Ashton Applewhite: anti-ageism author • speaker • activist
I’m on a crusade to overturn this culture’s dumb and destructive obsession with youth. Like most Americans, I used to be ambivalent about the prospect of growing old—until I learned more about it. It turns out that people are happiest at the beginnings and the ends of their lives. That the vast majority of Americans over 65 live independently. That older people are less depressed than the young or middle-aged. That the older people get, the less afraid they are of dying.
Why don’t more people know this stuff? Because of ageism: discrimination and stereotyping on the basis of age. Ageism drowns out all but the downside about life after 65—or 50 (enter the trophy wife); or 40, when job discrimination kicks in (the 40-year-old suddenly-single mom in the TV series “Younger” a lands a job by passing herself off as 26); or 30, when birthdays cards begin ushering us over the hill. The consequences are disastrous—especially for women—thanks to the ageist and sexist notion that men are enhanced by growing older while women are victimized. We reinforce this prejudice when we lie about our age, seek to distance ourselves from older women, panic about hitting some hypothetical “sell-by” date, and spend fortunes on “anti-aging” quackery to hold that date at bay.
There’s a healthier and happier alternative. Step off the treadmill of age denial. Start noticing how ageism segregates us and diminishes our prospects. Claim our powerful older selves. And begin to challenge the stereotypes and prejudices that attempt to shape our lives.
It’s not having a vagina that makes life harder for woman, it’s sexism. But until feminism taught them new scripts, women blamed themselves for their second-class status. Likewise, it’s not the passage of time that makes aging in America so much harder than it should be, it’s ageism—and it’s time for another new script. It’s time to stop blaming ourselves for becoming less limber or less visible, and to mobilize against the discrimination that renders transitions shameful and barriers acceptable. It’s time for a radical aging movement. It’ll be led by women like you and me.
Last, but certainly not least, I've just self-published my newest book, This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism.
You can watch a recent video conversation about my book on WHAT NOW WHAT. We explored our fears about growing older, blowing upsociety’s myths & stereotypes about aging. I hope you’ll join the revolution against ageism too!
Here's how to be part of this emerging movement:
- Invite me to come speak to your organization (list of appearances here)
- Sign up for my (very occasional) email at ThisChairRocks
- Download my guide, Who Me, Ageist? How to Start a Consciousness-Raising Group and start a group
- Send questions in to Yo, Is This Ageist?
- And follow me on social media (see all links in the sidebar)