WDMA Prop C

Opinion: Ageism in America needs to be challenged

by | Feb 27, 2019 | Opinion

You might recall the films, The Invisible Man, starring Claude Rains, and The Invisible Woman, starring Virginia Bruce. These works of fiction entertained audiences in the 1940s. But, it’s the 21st Century and it turns out invisible people really exist.

“They live among us in the guise of senior citizens,” according to Dan Weber, president of AMAC, a powerful senior advocacy organization.

San Francisco-based psychologist and psychotherapist Tamara McClintock Greenberg put it this way in an article for Psychology Today: “Why people are increasingly treated as if they’re invisible as they age (more prevalent it seems, for women) is curious, though perhaps not surprising. We live in a youth-fixated culture where people are afraid to age and to be vulnerable to growing older; where ideals about attractiveness are oriented around those with young, healthy bodies.”

Groups such as AMAC, the Association of Mature American Citizens, exist and thrive, in part, because the fast growing population of senior citizens in the U.S. is determined to be seen and heard, says Weber. “We are alive and well and, particularly when it comes to ageism, we are not going to take it anymore.”

Weber is not alone in his quest to eradicate the scourge of ageism in America. Author Ashton Applewhite, for example, has devoted herself to what might be called a movement to exposing and eliminating discrimination based on age. Among other things, she created a Web site, Old School, to be an ageism research resource.

“The messages are everywhere that old is not as good as young.  We are ageist any time we make an assumption about a person or a group of people on the basis of how old they appear to be.  Ageism has not been challenged in the culture at large,” says Applewhite. And, according to her, that is as unacceptable as racism, sexism and any other form of discrimination.

You might say that Applewhite is on a crusade and her focus is on the youngest members of society because research shows that prejudices such as ageism are formed early in life. And, her Old School Web site is designed to provide teachers with anti-ageism tools and aids allow them to create a positive view of growing old.

Dr. John C. Cavanaugh, a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America, also believes that youngsters need to be provided with a more affirmative attitude toward the elderly early on in the classroom. “Young people have a skewed view or even a blank spot when it comes to this population. From pre-school to high school, a lot of students don’t get any exposure to issues of aging,”

AMAC’s Weber is in full agreement with Applewhite and Cavanaugh that we need to teach our kids to not only respect their elders but to also see them as productive members of society with something to contribute. But, he says that Hollywood has a lot to answer for when it comes to promoting a dismissive attitude toward older Americans.

And he cites a study conducted by Humana and the University of Southern California that concluded Hollywood ridicules seniors in the movies.

Films have an impact on how our children view life, in general, Weber points out. “Thus, the negative portrayal of ageing in the movies and on TV has the insidious effect of making discrimination based on age not so cruel, but rather ‘cool’ in the minds of youngsters.”

From the Association of Mature American Citizens

0 Comments

Related News

What my friend taught me

What my friend taught me

Chris Taylor was police officer in Wylie. He was a husband, father, and grandfather. He was distinguished as a friend to many. Too me, he was more than a friend. He was also my life partner. I wasn’t ready to say “Goodbye” to my friend. Years ago, I had taken Chris to...

read more
Thanks for checking

Thanks for checking

By John Moore People in the South check on each other. I’m not sure if this happens elsewhere, but it’s almost innate for a person raised around where I was to check on folks. In Ashdown, Arkansas, people left their keys in their cars, so they obviously didn’t lock...

read more
Don’t Stand Alone

Don’t Stand Alone

As Americans we love “do it yourself”. DIY has become a national phenomenon. There are whole TV networks dedicated to DIY. Nothing wrong with that of course. It’s fun to figure things out on your own and complete a project then sit back and admire your work. ...

read more
Pet Milk Memories

Pet Milk Memories

By John Moore Pet Milk was a kitchen staple in most Southern homes in mid-20th Century America. It had as many uses as a coffee can full of bacon drippings. Thankfully, the two weren’t used interchangeably. Opening our Frigidaire, you’d see that the top shelf of our...

read more
Get closer to God by slowing down

Get closer to God by slowing down

By Todd Baughman I don’t know about you, but I get distracted easily.  Just typing that last sentence I’m pretty sure I had about 18 new thoughts about what I could / should be doing right now. Do you often load up your calendar and your mind with actions and...

read more
Perseverance through pain

Perseverance through pain

By Kris Segrest When you reflect on the happenings on the cross, some 2,000 years ago, it’s hard to believe that there was any joy there. Where was the joy in watching a man, Jesus, who had been sleeping, deprived, tortured, beaten, mocked, framed by religious...

read more
Just a bit peaved

Just a bit peaved

By John Moore I used to pay little attention to the world’s little idiosyncrasies, but now they seem ever present. And it’s more than slightly annoying. I can’t be the only one. When I was getting change back from the fast-food drive-thru recently, it all became...

read more
Circumstances don’t control my attitude

Circumstances don’t control my attitude

By Jeff Denton Cancer. Not what I was expecting to hear from the doctor. But surprisingly comforting at some level. It sure explained the extreme sickness I was experiencing. It explained twenty pounds of weight loss in three weeks. It explained months of pain that...

read more
Loving the unlovable

Loving the unlovable

By Rick Wood There’s so much going on in our world today…just turn on the news and you can hear of the tragedies that are taking place throughout our nation. Here in Texas, the town of Uvalde is mourning the deaths of nineteen elementary students and two teachers less...

read more
Toying with time

Toying with time

By John Moore I don’t recognize toys anymore. Our grandkids are coming from out of state to visit and I can’t find anything to get them as a surprise. Why? I don’t know what anything is or does. Toys should teach you how to prepare for life and be fun. Bakugan –...

read more