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What's Age Got to Do With It?

This week a reader wrote in to tell me how much she “especially” enjoyed the column when I included my own personal experience. Well, then this one’s for you, my friend! Because today’s topic is ageism… and the number of personal, rant-worthy experiences I’ve had could fill volumes. Picking one to share is the challenge, but here goes:

So, I’m having cocktails with a male client who is bemoaning an upcoming milestone birthday. In an effort to be supportive, I tell him, “It’s not your grandfather’s 60 anymore…60 is the new 40…age is a state of mind,” yada yada yada. To which he responds, “Well see how you feel when you turn 60!”

Interesting, given that I had seen the back end of 60 several years earlier and I tell him so. Admittedly, his clearly shocked facial expression upon hearing this news was a real mood booster. Until his demeanor completely changed: he took my hand and looked at me as though I was an alien lifeform, and then spoke to me in the most patronizing tone like I was a small child. “Good for you, dear,” says he, “You go girl!”

“ARE YOU F*CKING KIDDING ME???” I just couldn’t keep it in, “I’m the same person I was two minutes ago when you assumed we were peers. SNAP OUT OF IT!” Although there was more ranting on my part, I will say he took it like a man and apologized…and yes, we do still work together.

"The thing women struggle with most at work isn’t sexism, it’s ageism," says a piece in Quartz Media… and my own experiences, as well as those of many friends and colleagues, backs it up.

Silver and foxy, our own Nancy Mendelson
Silver and foxy, our own Nancy Mendelson

When I made the decision to let my hair go grey/silver—or gunmetal, as my genius haircutter calls it, which makes me feel like a badass—I knew I was risking being perceived as older, and I wasn’t wrong. I could read the thought bubbles in a room full of strangers when I went to pitch business. So why is it when the likes of George Clooney, Idris Elba, Pierce Brosnan, or even Matt freakin’ Le Blanc transition into grey they are Silver Foxes????

Listen, I have never lied about my age, hidden it, had “work done” –not that I don’t think about it at least twice a week–and like so many women I know, have grown smarter, stronger, wiser, and more capable of running the show than most men–or if not running, then at least having a starring role.

My friend and colleague, Dr. Leslie Morrison Faerstein a licensed Psychotherapist, Influencer on women, aging, and body image, recently shared on social media a great short video, part of a campaign out of Australia to help stamp out ageism.

“No reason we can't do this all over the world!” she adds, and I second that!!! Who’s with me??


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