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Here's why now is the time to fight back against age discrimination

BarrieToday columnist Wendy King has had just about enough of the invisibility epidemic threatening older women
invisible woman stock

Every once in a while in this age of super heroes, someone poses this question.

If you could have any super power what would it be? X-ray vision, ability to fly, time travel?

I already have one and it came to be quite naturally with the passage of time.


It is true. Most every day and in a variety of situations, I am not seen.

You may be experiencing this too if you are a person of a certain vintage.

It happens gradually. You are a vibrant, contributing member of society until one day you are not.

“Ageism is stereotyping and discriminating against individuals or groups on the basis of their age. This may be casual or systematic" — Websters

 In the workplace it starts out with jokes usually.

“When you were young didn’t you use a chisel and stone to e-mail?”

“Do you need the heat turned up? Old people are always cold.”

You laugh at first and then you don’t.

Then you may notice you are not invited to brain storming meetings because what possible input could you have? You will be sidelined. Funny thing is it will be done usually by someone who is the same age as you making it not only hurtful but hypocritical.

Watch closely because sooner than later the veterans of your workplace — those who have built it up and kept it running smoothly — will slowly be weeded out. It may be because they make the most money or are now using the benefits offered by the company in terms of medications or glasses or some other illogical reason but it happens. You can likely tell your own version of the same story. I’m not suggesting young people don’t deserve every opportunity but to me a vital workforce would be one with diversity including different ages and life experience.

Wait until you have to apply for jobs in this new time. While technically, interviewers can’t ask your age — you know they are sizing you up to see if you still have all your brain cells. They may also assume you plan to retire soon. Another assumption that works against anyone over 50.

You think it's not harder to get a job when you’re older? Let me refer you to Julia Roberts who just protested the spotlight on the age of an actress in Hollywood. She was angry that every publication made a big deal of her turning 50? She wondered if they approached Brad Pitt or George Clooney before their milestone birthdays? It is like only women get older.

Socially, expect to walk into restaurants, theatres, bars and not be noticed. I can’t say if that happens to older men but it does happen to older women. You are referred to as a cougar. It feels horrible. It's like you no longer matter. You are no longer worthy of appreciation or affection. If you do get flirted with, some will suggest it is not genuine. Your ship has sailed, lady!

Getting older doesn’t make you dumber. It actually makes you smarter. It makes you not stress as much and not worry as much. It gives you the freedom to say what you really think. 

So, here’s what I think. 

I think we should hire people based on merit and talent. I think we should ask everyone for their opinions and ideas. I think we should respect and learn from those older than ourselves. I think we should call out ageism when we see it or experience it. I think we should sue companies that do it until they stop.

Let’s stop making everything about a number.

Ladies and gentlemen, we must own our beauty and our intelligence. We have so much to offer. Don’t let anybody age you out of your destiny! 

I don’t intend to. Stand up and be seen!