“One should never trust a woman who tells one her real age. A woman who would tell one that would tell one anything.”
The other day, a female friend said something to me that got me thinking (very dangerous of her to do that, I might add) about what aging really means: “You only start to feel old when the men stop looking.”
The conversation began innocently enough, with six fab women sitting around talking about work and such. One of my friends started commenting on the “young’ens” in her office and how they treat her. Keep in mind that these women, my friends, are in their late 30s to early 40s — not exactly ready to audition for the Golden Girls. Still, my friend feels she is already a victim of ageism at her office.
The definition of Ageism (via Wikipedia): Ageism, or age discrimination, is stereotyping and discriminating against individuals or groups because of their age. It is a set of beliefs, attitudes, norms, and values used to justify age-based prejudice, discrimination, and subordination.
My friend has also been feeling that she must work twice as hard as her younger colleagues, just so they won’t think that “the old lady can’t keep up.” Hers is already a high-pressure job. For any daily performance of hers that is not 100 percent top notch by comparison to that of her younger counterparts, the automatic assumption is that it’s because of age.
More than just angering me, this confuses me. I thought thirty was the new forty, fifty the new sixty, and so on. This is certainly what all the magazine covers, wrinkle creams and Botox ads tell us. Apparently, someone forgot to notify the work force. My friend also feels that she gets “dismissed” when she speaks out in a meeting or puts forth an idea. Her larger concern is that with the coming of age comes, dreaded, invisibility.
If you ask someone if they could have a superpower, what would their answer be? Chances are good that they’ll choose invisibility. But that’s all fun/pretend — the kind of power that lets you sneak into George Clooney’s bedroom. I definitely don’t want to be invisible in the real world.
Does this mean I have to take evasive action on aging? Do I need to stretch, pull, pucker and tighten things? How do we not become invisible? Is it just women? Do men in the work force get the same treatment or are they seen as wiser? Have you encountered ageism or the dreaded cloak of invisibility that is “getting old?”
Also ladies, do you agree with the Oscar Wilde quote at the top of the page? Emphatically, I do not. So, I guess I’m a blabbermouth who would tell anyone anything, because I am happy to share the fact that I am 41 going on Fabulous!
Dee Brun is the award-winning author of Libations of Life: A Girl’s Guide to Life One Cocktail at a Time, a cocktail chef and stylist, TV personality, home entertaining guru, writer, humorist, wife, mother of 4, TV Junkie, shoe-aholic, and borderline George Clooney stalker. Read her column, Isn’t it Deelightful, every Friday on Slice.ca.