THIS CHAIR ROCKS

pushing back against ageism—which affects everyone

HOME  |  BLOG  |  WHAT IS AGEISM?  |  ABOUT ASHTON APPLEWHITE  |  APPEARANCES

Yo, Is This Ageist?

Anonymous asked: I once heard a university professor describe a class on the sociology of aging in which one of the assignments he assigned his students was to spend "a day in the life of" -- this involved smearing vaseline on eyeglasses to simulate vision problems, putting cotton in ears to simulate vision loss, wrapping hands in tensors to simulate arthritis, etc. What do you think of this?

Activities like these develop empathy, always a good thing, and make for more intelligent and compassionate dealings with the old old, whether patients, customers, parents, or just the really slow-moving person between you and the cash register. I hope the class also discusses the fact  that olders adapt in countless ways to these gradual physical changes, and continue to enjoy active lives.

Anonymous asked: In this week's New York magazine, a spokesman for Air B&B says, "'Most people want this. The only people who don't are older,' he adds. 'People who have less experience with technology and innovation and just like things the way they are.' In the tech industry, it's still not somehow considered breathtakingly rude to call someone old to their face, or to brush off their very real world concerns as out of touch, or to otherwise deem their lives irrelevant."

I wish ageism were confined to the tech industry, but salute the writer for calling out the AirB&B guy’s false and obnoxious statement. It’s simply not true that the internet is a young person’s medium, nor that olders “just like things the way they are.” For example, gray heads were abundant among the 400,000 people clamoring for change at this week’s historic climate march.

Actually titled “Younger,” this sitcom follows a 40-year old newly single mom who revitalizes her career by passing herself off as a 20-something. Sequels in development: “Actually Not Younger,” “Demoralized,” “Desperate,” and “Liza Discovers Feminism.” Just kidding about the sequels.

Actually titled “Younger,” this sitcom follows a 40-year old newly single mom who revitalizes her career by passing herself off as a 20-something. Sequels in development: “Actually Not Younger,” “Demoralized,” “Desperate,” and “Liza Discovers Feminism.” Just kidding about the sequels.

Anonymous asked: From a Q&A column in the real estate section: "Q. Our bathroom is outfitted with grab bars, anti-slip mats and other safety features. Should we remove them before trying to sell?" An agent advises removing them “because they’re easily removed, and it just eliminates a distraction and a conversation you don’t want to have.”

Ageist, ableist, and stupid. Why show the house to older people, after all?  Or to anyone whose households might include older members or people with disabilities? Or to anyone athletic who might someday injure themselves? And for heavens sake keep the person who needs those grab bars out of sight during the open house!

Anonymous asked: This PSA for the Common Core curriculum?

Ouch! In this staggeringly insulting video, “Pop-pop” plays an ignorant, rude, biased, blowhard. The only thing that comes off worse is Six One Seven Studios, the group that cooked up this campaign.

From Hana: I had two thoughts looking at this poster in the window of a tanning salon:
1. Actually, aging isn’t optional, unless you’re not alive.
2. Doesn’t tanning increase wrinkles, which are one of society’s most visibly associated symbols of aging?
Right on both counts—and not the first time I’ve seen tanning joints tout their “anti-aging” properties.

From Hana: I had two thoughts looking at this poster in the window of a tanning salon:

1. Actually, aging isn’t optional, unless you’re not alive.

2. Doesn’t tanning increase wrinkles, which are one of society’s most visibly associated symbols of aging?

Right on both counts—and not the first time I’ve seen tanning joints tout their “anti-aging” properties.

Fake Bus Stops Designed to Fool Old People

From Josh: A Senior Center in Germany has planted a fake bus stop out front in order to fool Alzheimer’s patients into sitting down and waiting for a bus instead of wandering off into the City, a strategy which has begun to spread. Presumably this saves police resources and minimizes stress among their caregivers, but it does so by taking advantage of the diminished mental capacities of these oldsters. Is this a brilliant social services strategy or a cruel ageist trick?

This has less to do with how society treats older people than with how it treats people who are cognitively impaired. Fake bus stops do involve deceit, which is ethically problematic. They aren’t cruel, though, because no one is being hurt, and it’s hard to take issue with furniture that keeps people safe, helps caregivers, and saves money. 

Esurance online ads are ageist. Don’t buy it!

from Cynthia: Esurance continually produces ads that are ageist, divisive and insulting to all.  Perhaps Esurance thinks older individuals don’t use the Internet, therefore their “humor” will not affect their bottom line.  It’s time for all of us, young and old, to stop patronizing Esurance and let them know what they are doing is wrong!  If the folks they are making fun of were people of color v. elders, the ads would be pulled immediately.  Take action.  Don’t buy Esurance and call them out on their ageist ads online! 

I completely agree.

These Grandmas Rock Harder Than Your Grandma

Well, the t-shirts are spankin’ brand new, which makes me think that this is not so much “these women enjoy the music they enjoyed when they were younger” (which I would dig) as “lol isn’t it funny/cute to see grannies wearing heavy metal t-shirts” (which irks me).  The former would challenge assumptions and misconceptions, while the latter reinforces them, seems to me.  Yo, is this ageist?

The photos are clearly contrived—”Heavy metal grandmas,” how daring! ACDC ‘n teacups, how cute!—and there’s no suggestion that these women rock anything but the shirts, so I agree that the basic message is condescending. What’s grandmotherhood got to do with it?  Why the ageist assumption that “your grandma” has no Megadeath accessories?  

On the other hand, I think the photographer intended to challenge ageist assumptions about who listens to what, which is all to the good. Fans of all ages, represent!

Anonymous asked: Last weekend I went to an outdoor dance party with a bunch of friends celebrating a 40-somethingth birthday. A few of us were in our 60s, well above the median age, but the crowd was really friendly — except for the guy who called my friend "Grandma." She didn't tell me about it till later and was too startled to respond. What should she have said to this jerk?

The snappy answer — Didn’t your mommy teach you any manners? Are you cranky because you missed your nap? — is tempting, but it doesn’t make for much of a teachable moment. Better to ask, “Why did you call me that?” and follow up with “How do you think it made me feel?” At a minimum, the guy would have had to stop and think about it. And perhaps she could have gone on to point out that it’s no more acceptable to call an older person “grandma” than to call a heavy person “fatso,” or a developmentally delayed person “retard,” or, or, or…