Ageism Exposed: How Women Over 50 Can Fight Back

Show Notes:


Valerie discusses the topic of ageism and its impact on women over 50. Ageism is a type of discrimination based on age, which includes assumptions that older women are frail, useless, or behind the times. Valerie highlights five areas where ageism is often observed: society, the workplace, media and entertainment, churches, and healthcare. She shares personal stories and examples to illustrate the challenges faced by older women in these areas. Valerie also provides strategies to combat ageism, such as self-reflection, speaking up, staying updated, finding a supportive community, and celebrating wisdom.


00:00 Introduction to the podcast and the topic of ageism

01:07 Definition and examples of ageism

03:10 Places where ageism is often seen: society, social relationships, workplace, media and entertainment, churches, and healthcare

11:05 Strategies to combat ageism: self-reflection, speaking up, staying updated, finding a supportive community, and celebrating wisdom

13:37 Encouragement to challenge stereotypes, thrive, and share experiences of rising above ageism

Key Takeaways:

  • Ageism is a type of discrimination based on age, which includes assumptions that older women are frail, useless, or behind the times.
  • Ageism can be observed in society, the workplace, media and entertainment, churches, and healthcare.
  • Older women may face challenges such as being excluded from social activities, denied job opportunities, portrayed stereotypically in media, neglected in decision-making in churches, and dismissed or ignored in healthcare settings.
  • Strategies to combat ageism include self-reflection, speaking up with grace, staying updated with current trends, finding a supportive community, and celebrating wisdom.

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Valerie Hatcher: You. Hello, beautiful ladies. Welcome back to another episode of Five to Thrive. I'm your host, Valerie Hatcher. Our mission is to provide empowering tips for women over 50 to help us navigate this vibrant stage of life with grace, style, and a whole lot of fun. Each week, I bring you five practical and engaging tips on a specific topic. I hope you find them relevant and relatable, and we'll come back for more. Ready for today's episode? Then let's go, you. Hey there, ladies. Welcome back to another episode of Five to Thrive. Today we're pulling back the curtain on a topic that hits close to home for many over 50 ageism. Ever been told you look good for your age? Or maybe that's a young person's game. Yep, that's ageism peeking through from subtle comments to outright discrimination. It's time that we address this. So let's dive in. Let's kick things off by defining ageism. Picture this a vibrant woman celebrating her 60th birthday. She gets a card that reads, you're not old. You're vintage. Funny? Maybe. But it's these little things that reinforce age's notions. Ageism isn't just about thinking someone is too old for something. It's a whole range of prejudices based on age. Let's unpack this a little more. At its core, ageism is a type of discrimination based on age. It includes assumptions that as older women, we are frail, we're useless, or behind the times. These beliefs then translate into behaviors like insensitive remarks, ignoring input, or denying opportunities. Whether it's being told you're too old for a new career move or too young to understand, ageism can affect anyone. But today we're focusing on the challenges faced by women over 50. Think about the times you've heard phrases like, she's passed her prime, or Isn't she too old for that? These are not just words, but reflections of deeper societal beliefs. Today we're spotlighting the challenges that we as women over 50 face. Okay, so where do we often spot ageism? Let's address my top five places. Society. Remember the last time you browsed beauty products and saw labels screaming antiaging? It's like society's giving us a nudge, suggesting that we need fixing or that we need to look young to feel relevant. It's hard, isn't it? Especially when the world around us seems to be celebrating youth and sidelining maturity. And haven't we all at some point gazed longingly at old photos wishing to turn back time? Older women may also face ageism in their social relationships. They may be excluded from social activities or treated differently by younger people. They may also feel like they don't belong or fit in. This can lead to isolation and loneliness. Let's talk about the workplace. Now, let me share a story. So I have a friend, Lisa, who's a dynamo at 55. She was once passed over for a project in favor of a younger colleague. Not because of competence, but because of age. They thought that the younger person had more years ahead of them, and that helped them to develop her and for her to climb the ladder. Or another situation where someone around my age was discussing a project, and midway through her presentation, a younger team member interrupted, suggesting that they might need a more modern approach. The room went silent. It wasn't about the idea, but it was the underlying implication. Just because we've been around a bit longer doesn't mean our ideas are outdated. We have a wealth of experience, and with that comes a depth of understanding that's invaluable some employers can have ageist biases against older women, believing that they are less productive, less adaptive, or less capable. And honestly, these can be true if we allow ourselves to get in those ruts. This can make it very difficult for older women to find jobs and to advance in their careers. I've heard examples of women feeling pressured to retire after they have a milestone birthday. They're asked, how much longer do you plan on working? Or do you have plans to retire soon? Some would say the questions are to help with succession planning, but it's not appropriate to ask. For that matter, younger childbearing-age women could also leave the company, so it would also be wrong to ask them, do you plan on coming back after the baby's born? As older women, we still have energy, and we have ideas to contribute. The underlying message can appear to be fresh faces and fresh ideas. But isn't wisdom just as valuable? Ageism in the workplace isn't always glaring, but its effects can be profound. Media and Entertainment I was flipping through channels one evening and landed on a popular show. The Lead. A woman supposedly in her early 50s looked nothing like the vibrant, dynamic 50-year-olds I know. Instead, she fits the stereotype of a grandmother perpetually worried, waiting for a call from her children. Where are the stories of women over 50 who are traveling, starting businesses, or even just enjoying their lives? Ever watched a movie where the dashing hero is a 60-year-old and his love interest is half his age? Or an ad showing us that only smooth skin is beautiful? Yep, that's media shaping ageist narratives. Here's a fun exercise next time you're watching a movie or a show, notice the age of the powerful characters versus those who are seeking advice or in need. Ageism isn't always loud. Sometimes it's the silent narrative. Let's talk about churches. Yes, I said churches. Surprising, right? But ageism can seep in even here. Think about the last community event at your church. Was it tailored more towards the younger crowd? I recall once hearing someone say, we need more young energy in these roles. I can see that there could be some validity in this. Many churches are focused on attracting and retaining younger members or families. And this makes perfectly good sense, as the church needs to be able to grow and thrive after older members are no longer there. They need to be modern and progressive in order to attract a younger crowd. However, this can lead to the neglect and exclusion of older women. Men too. But again, our focus is on women. Right now, the church is a place of acceptance. Right? But how often are mature voices involved in decision-making compared to the younger ones? Ageism can be subtle, even in the most unexpected places. But to help combat this, churches and leaders can promote an age-inclusive culture. There has to be balance. We bring experience and knowledge with age, but we also have to do our part to remain relevant. Meaning it's on us to be progressive in our thoughts. I'm not saying that we pretend to be something that we aren't. But we must continue to educate ourselves about the world around us and the ever-changing landscape. We can help debunk these perceptions and stereotypes. Churches can have a thriving senior ministry. Lastly, let's talk about health care. Have you ever been to the doctor and heard, well, these things happen at your age? As if age is a diagnosis in itself? Well, I have, and I didn't like it. And I continued to push back on that logic. And then I changed doctors. A friend recently shared a similar ordeal. She had been feeling under the weather and visited her doctor. The diagnosis. Such things happen with age. No tests. No further questions. So she sought a second opinion, and she found out that she had a thyroid condition. It's a reminder that our concerns are valid and they deserve attention regardless of our age. As you can see, ageism can also manifest itself in healthcare. Older women may be dismissed or ignored when they share their concerns with healthcare providers. They may also be denied access to certain medical treatments or procedures simply because of their age. Symptoms can be written off as just a normal part of aging. We have to insist on being taken seriously. Yes, even in healthcare settings. So what can we do to combat ageism? Here are five strategies to not just face, but embrace and rise above ageism. Number one self reflect and challenge your own biases. Before pointing fingers, let's introspect. Yes, we all have biases. Maybe we think that millennials are this or Gen Z's are that. Breaking ageism starts within. Number two speak up, but stay cool. When ageist comments come your way, reply with grace, not anger. A simple "I believe age doesn't define capability, don't you?" or, "Well, with age comes wisdom." This approach can work wonders, and it can shift perspective. Number three stay updated. Dive into new hobbies, tech trends, or even pop culture. Know what's going on around you, and not just with those in your age group. Honestly, having a 27-year-old helps me stay connected as well. As does social media. Yes, social media isn't all bad. It's not about proving a point, but it's about staying connected. Number four find and build your tribe. Surround yourself with folks who see beyond age. Having a supportive community can be a shield against ageist blows, be it online communities, book clubs, or workshops. Surround yourself with diverse age groups. Celebrate age inclusivity, and then five, celebrate your wisdom. Girl, wear your age like a badge of honor. I certainly do. Share stories, impart wisdom, and let the world know that every year adds to your awesomeness. Every chat, blog post, or social media update counts. I'm very active on social media, and I try hard to make sure that these are reflected in what I share. In wrapping up, it's essential to remember that while ageism is real, so is our resilience, our experience, and our zest for life. We hold the power. Our age is a testament to battles won, lessons learned, and love shared. Every laugh line is a testament of our joy. Every gray hair is a mark of wisdom. Now, I don't have very many gray hairs, but I'm still wise. Ha. And every time we challenge a stereotype, every time we step out of that designated lane, we pave the way for others. Ageism isn't just our fight. It's a fight for every woman who comes after us. So let's continue to challenge, to defy, and to thrive. I urge you to share your encounters with ageism and the unique ways that you've chosen to rise above. If you have tips to share, I'd love to hear your stories. Let's learn and grow together. Until next time, keep shining, keep thriving, and let's continue to defy those stereotypes. Thank you so much for joining me for Five to Thrive Tuesday. If you haven't already done so, please subscribe so that you don't miss an episode. If you enjoyed the segment, please rate, review, and share it with a friend. Let's stay connected on Instagram, Facebook, and or threads at IAM Valerie Hatcher or email me at Until next time, let's continue to age with grace, style, and a touch of sass.

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