Ashton Applewhite on Ageism

Are you living in fear of getting old? Or, are you ashamed of your wrinkles? Ashton Applewhite, the author of This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism, gave a TED Talk that makes many eye-opening points about ageism. Thank you to Resa of Graffiti Lux and Murals for bringing it to my attention recently. The entire talk is embedded at the end of this post so that you can watch it in full. At just over 11 minutes, it’s well worth the time, in my opinion.

Advocating against ageism

Let’s age with pride. Pixabay image, CC0 Creative Commons.

Fears of Aging

Ashton Applewhite starts out by talking about how she used to fear getting older. She worried about drooling in the hallway of a senior’s home, for example. Then she began to research the issue about actually found that dementia rates are dropping, not increasing as many people believe it to be and that the real issue remains, which is anxiety over losing your memory.

If you worry about depression in older age, you’re not alone in this thought. But, did you know that it is actually a “U” curve of happiness that occurs? Applewhite explains that the majority of us are happiest at the beginning and ending of life.

On Ageism Being Socially Constructed

So, Ashton Applewhite says that she began to fear aging less as she looked into the realities… But ageism is reality too. It is a socially constructed entity. And, yes, applies to the young in addition to the old (both sides of the spectrum). Ageism is another of “ism” along with racism and several other prejudices.

Then Applewhite, in this TED Talk, put up a slide that says ageism is the “prejudice against our own future selves.”

Her talk touches briefly on anti-aging products. She says we are being critical of our changing bodies, trying to hold onto our youth, but “why on earth would you stop celebrating the ability to adapt and grow as we move through life?” Why does aging well mean looking like a younger version of yourself?

She calls for us to stop being embarrassed about getting older.

Obviously, this would involve changing the images we see in the media, including those in Hollywood, who are predominantly under 60 years old. Often those who are older than this, as Ashton Applewhite points out, are portrayed as a parody.

And as for the anti-aging skin care industry, it’s huge, and it depends on us wanting to keep seeking youthful beauty. If we reach that appearance, Applewhite suggests then that the huge industry would find itself out of work.

Educating and Being Open to Listening

But most people who are ageist don’t even know they are this way. It’s internalized by society from an early age. So why would someone challenge something they don’t even know they’re doing?

Well, thank goodness for those who educate us, such as Applewhite, and those who are open to listening to these speakers. While we have every right to fear getting old and outliving our retirement fund or loneliness, you can enjoy your older age more when you celebrate this changing version of yourself.

Let’s age with pride and confidence, rather than being ashamed the next time we go into a room and forget why we went there in the first place. To quote the inspirational Ashton Applewhite, “Aging is living.”

Here is the TED Talk in full:

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22 thoughts on “Ashton Applewhite on Ageism

    • Thank you, Aqui! It’s a Sunday for reflection… I’m so glad you came by to check it out and, yes, Resa is an inspiring woman in our life!! Hooray! Hugs to you too, dear star 🙂

  1. Oh Christy, I am a bit teary eyed that you posted this! Ashton makes many amazing points! I have been lurking in the shadows of aging for awhile now, and I see from this TED Talk, that I should be standing in the sunshine of living. I hope lots watch this impressive TED Talk.
    To add sincerity and levity to the idea, GiGi & I came up with the “Gray Pride Parade”!
    Hope your Sunday is being wonderful! 😀 xxoo

  2. Pingback: Ashton Applewhite on Ageism — When Women Inspire | The Silver Parachute

  3. Pingback: Ashton Applewhite on Ageism — When Women Inspire | The Silver Parachute

  4. Luckily for us most of our cherished relationships are with our
    elders, baby boomers & above. Age is nothing but a number.
    Unfortunately in our instant gratification & vanity obsessed
    culture there is not much interest in looking beyond the surface
    of things. Working in a retirement community during college we
    fostered such deep & wonderful relationships with the residents
    from all walks of life. The time we got to spend and chat with
    these amazing people was life changing. You do not have to be
    blood relatives with someone to show them compassion, interest,
    & just be there to enjoy each others company. There is so much
    wisdom to be gained if we allow ourselves to slow down & listen.

  5. Thanks for sharing this, Chrissy. The talk is on my listening list. Unfortunately I couldn’t get it to load when I was walking the other day. Aging is definitely living and, so far as I know, better than the alternative.

  6. This is an important topic for people of all ages. We need to focus on how we live instead of how we look. If we did that there’d be a lot of companies put out of business – and we’d all be a lot happier! Thanks, Christy!

  7. Thank you, Christy, for sharing this article. It is sad that we as a society has put so much emphasis on youth and not gaining insight and wisdom as we age. One of my best memories are my elderly aunts talking about their adventures during WWII when they decided to train as pilots while the men went to war. They provided me with so much inspiration. laughter, and wisdom telling about their special moments, their faces wrinkled and eyes glinting as they spoke.

  8. I have always tried to regard age as a state of mind. I aspire to be one of those mature ladies who retains their kindness, love of life, and positive attitude, despite wrinkles and white hair.

  9. I refuse to pay $25-$60 for a miracle cream to prevent me from aging. I don’t need to look like I’m 30 years old again when I am 51 now. I don’t feel (in my mind) that I’m 51. In fact, I feel like I am 30 if it weren’t for all the aches & pains of aging knees & back problems.
    My only concern is getting older, and being alone. I’m not married, no children, and barely any family. I have a lot of friends, but I know down the road as I continue to age…they won’t be there beside me when I am fading away.
    I enjoyed the video and the reading this
    Thank you,
    Beckie.

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