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Older = Smarter, and Wiser Too

Do You Lie About Your Age?

category_bug_ageism.gif Chronological age is an issue from earliest childhood. When we are very young, we are eager to be older and when grownups asked our age then, we held up the number of fingers that matched our years and proudly added “and a half” as soon as we could.

But by the time I reached my teens, in the mid-1950s, I had learned that “a lady never tells her age” and that to ask adults how old they are is rude. These were the first indications that getting older is not what it was cracked up to be when I was five.

Through the ensuing decades, that message was reinforced at every turn in life until it became a given that growing old is the worst offense anyone can commit against the culture.

Many people lie about their age. I remember being surprised, when I was researching Nancy Reagan for an interview when she was First Lady, to discover that her “official” published age had been shorted by four or five years of her real age. Why would it matter how old the wife of a president is? And given our culture's extreme prejudice in favor of youth, how can five years matter after age forty anyway? You're still "too old" according to the youth and beauty police.

And so, when I started Time Goes By, I resolved to state my real age every time it is appropriate. Someone has to take a stand that age is a natural development of living and it is time to get it out of the closet.

Now comes the current AARP Bulletin, that organization which purports to advocate for the largest number of people older than 50, with a story about hiding our age. Pamela Redmond Satran defends lying about her age because:

“…it becomes a yardstick by which other people measure you. People immediately use it to gauge how good you look, how much you’ve achieved, how healthy you are, and what more the world can expect from you before you join that age-free cohort in the sky.

“I don’t want to tell my age because I don’t want my life to be judged by anybody else’s timetable.”

And that’s the problem, isn’t it? Ms. Satran goes along with the ageism of the culture, allowing others to judge her by such an arbitrary number, and she urges the rest of us to lie too. That AARP, whose raison d’etre is to defend the rights of older people, would publish this piece is disheartening and perpetuates the culture’s aversion to age.

Nothing will change - age discrimination in the workplace will continue unchallenged, old people will remain invisible, bad jokes about incontinence will go on being the staple of lazy comedians, and fear of getting older will afflict everyone – until we, older people, refuse to be judged on the number of our years alone.

One way to thwart that judgment is to stand up to our real ages. Let younger people become accustomed to us as we really are. I’m getting smarter, more experienced and I’m learning new things every day – just like when I was younger. There is no way this could happen without getting older.

So I sing it loud and I sing it clear: I am 64 (and a half). Anybody got a problem with that?


Comments

62.7 here

Hear, Hear! It's so sad to find people who feel they have to be coy about their age. Remember that Beatles song, 'When I'm Sixty Four'? The lyrics may not be great, but the perky tune makes a lovely theme song for those of us in our sixties - http://www.links2love.com/music/whenim64.mid


Once again....Bravo, Ronni! I love how you tell it like it is! Jumping on your bandwagon and loudly proclaiming 58 here (the half comes next month)And like I've always said,I strongly feel getting older certainly beats the alternative!

Bravo for you - and shame on the AARP and Ms. Satran. What a weak stand to take.

The one time I remember being most self-conscious about my age, I had not been working terribly long and a client of our company had taken me for 19, about four years younger than I then was, as I was doing a task on which you would want someone experienced. I found out after-the-fact because he decided that I was not after a problem cropped up and I solved it well.

These days I am pretty sure I could not be mistaken for nineteen, and I am grateful. I can only claim to be 30, though, and I don't look older than that as far as I can tell, so I haven't hit the discrimination yet. Who knows if I will show the courage and strength you have if I see it start to adversely affect my work life.... (I doubt it would affect the rest of my life and I would happily drop 'friends' who couldn't see past age. The kind of discrimination you have faced in work/job-searching, however, is very scary to me.)

I am sixty and three quarters and spend my time saying so.
The rough time was turning sixty! And I second Terri, getting older does beat the alternative ;)

I have always sung it loudly and clearly too, Ronni. I will be 65 in 2 and 1/2 months. I'm proud of my age and what I have experienced and learned through the years. I would like my body not to show my age, but that's not gonna' happen, so I try to live with it gracefully.

Of course I lie about my age. If I didn't, I'd never have a date.

Very good article and thoughts. It is kind of amazing how our culture so reveres youth. I am almost 62 and am told a lot I look younger. Ironically I have never cared nor felt particularly flattered by that. I just want people to think I look good and vibrant and on good days-- happy.

I never lie about my age even though I could probably get away with it, and do see how when you cross the magic demarcation point of 60 (supposedly genuine old age), it might be tempting, but it would seem self defeating given what happens if I form a deeper relationship with someone I lied to? Seems it'd damage it for a big nothing. I also feel that when we do surprise someone who is 25 by our real age, it gives them a new perspective on what 60 or 70 really is, maybe even hope for their own 'golden' years. Gloria Steinem said it well when she turned 50 (paraphrasing)-- this is what 50 looks like. Get used to it.

I'd started going gray at 16, which was way cool, and colored my hair through the drama (oh, the drama) of my twenties, because gray was uncool. Boy, turning 30 was the smartest thing I ever did...

At five feet tall with a baby face, I stopped coloring my hair then to be taken more seriously (and because coloring it was a pain). I was lucky and it grew in fabulously, in a white stripe at each temple against my dark hair, like Mr. Fantastic. :-)

Now I'm 41, loving life - every year it gets better. And though I wistfully look at the latest reds, blondes, and brunettes on the haircolor shelf, I always decide to keep my gray. My husband calls it my "brand." People stop me to ask if it's real (well, fewer do so now...I guess it's becoming age-appropriate :-) )

I envy those women with fully gray hair, whether they wear it long and soft or cropped and perky. My aunts all have gorgeous little puffs of pure white. All I know is it makes me happy to be starting mine.

So I'll tell my age to anyone who asks, and some who don't! Here's to at least 41 more years. Can't wait to see what's next.

PS Ronni has very cool hair.

Okay, I will shout it out...69! Now that felt good and I am one who has never lied about my age. My mother never told her age and always seemed so uncomfortable when age was mentioned so I swore I wouldn't let that happen to me.
Thank you for a wonderful post and you are so right about ageism.

My husband and I get AARP The Magazine, although we've never subscribed to it. I'm amazed that it's a 50-plus version of a teen mag., all about "hot new" fashions, dieting, dating, and age-defying strategies to keep body "sexy" and mind "sharp" (i.e."BONUS: How Poker Keeps You Sharp"). Only celebrities are shown on the covers: Richard Gere, Paul Newman, Candice Bergin, and "Hollywood's Hottest": Rita Moreno, Marcia Gay Harden, Joanne Woodward, Cloris Leachman, etc. The July/August 2005 issue advertises a "Landmark Study: Sex 2005," but it's still unread on my bedside table because elsewhere on the same cover it advertises "The 50 Sexiest People Over 50." So I can sort of anticipate the slant of the Sex 2005 Study.
It's very discouraging that the foremost advocate for elders thinks we're just aging teens or hotties, that our minds are still on dieting, dating, glamour, and looking sexy. Thank god I know that old age contains more. If I went by AARP, I wouldn't want it.

Okay, 58 1/2 years...and counting! I have NEVER felt the need to hide it...especially since some days I feel like 80! But, my Mom use to lie about her age...cripes, she had me having my children in my teens by her account. Somewhere down the line she gave up on trying to remember what she told everyone, and it always caught me "off guard" trying to have conversations with her lady friends...I was never sure what age she was with them...God forbid you should "slip" and give her away. I could feel her eyes penetrating the back of my head...ouch. It's all funny to me...age is so relative. A couple of my kids love to kid me about it all the time because they know they can. Ronni, I know you believe as I do...It's all about how you choose to accept growing older that makes the world of difference. -Joy

Okay....Am I the oldest one in the room ??? Seems so. I used to be the youngest since I started kindergarten at 4 and graduated high school at 16. I was the youngest by 8 years in my family so I really was the baby. I should have been required to wait until the following year to start to school with a December birthday. I was intellectualy on par with the others in my class but in many ways I was socially behind them.

My grandchildren keep me young and active. Today, and all this week, I am keeping my 6 year old grandson while his Mom, my daughter in law, goes back to her third grade teaching job. On Friday I will have 3 of the grands here. they range in age from 8 to 6.
I have recently recorded 4 "Scooby-Doo" movies for them, one "Alice in Wonderland" and "Eloise" (at the Plaza)..We play cards,we go outside and blow bubbles, We play charades. We color and paint. The other day we made pyramids from sugar cubes :) We make popcorn. I sometimes take them to the townhouse pool a few yards down from us.

So perhaps I am the youngest one in the room after all...:)

I will be 76 in December........

Chancy

Ronni, I've enjoyed catching up on all of your entries since Fran of Sacred Ordinaries mentioned your blogs, and I wouldn't miss a one.
I'll hit 70 in two months, and think that's quite an accomplishment.
Good luck with the sale of your apartment and finding just the right home for you in Maine. I'd love to be there too.

Forgot to say that I cancelled our AARP membership years ago.

Good for you! I've never felt the need to lie about my age. I'm 62 (and a half) and proud of it too!

Yeah!
I am 56.2 ... and have never wanted to lie about it.

Hey I've worked hard to get here! And I love every minute of it ... or *almost* every minute of it!

Greater age equaled greater credibility in my profession, so I was never tempted to minimize my age. To my remembrance, the only lie I've ever told about my age was to get a job when I was 14.

ml--AARP has changed over the last 15 or so years. The magazine used to be chock full of information that was either useful or interesting--not fashions or cooking. Sad to say, it seemed to change when the top management changed from female to male. (One of the things that really put me off was that they had demographic editions. I always wondered which demographic "they" thought I fit into by the fluff that was in the magazines that I got.) Fortunately, the magazine has started to improve from its nadir. I remain a member to get the discounts on motel bills.

I turned 54 two months ago so I can't add "an a half" for another four months. And I have no problem with you being 64...really. ;)

Bravo, Ronni. I'm going to append a link to this to my moment of existential wavering here.

Claude, I thought it was much harder to turn 50 than 60.

I'm 50, with a light saber.


Ronni, in the spirit of BlogHer, I'd like to ask three times if I can be on your blogroll, in the Older Bloggers section, of course.

Ronni, can I be on your blogroll?
Ronni, can I be on your blogroll?
Ronni, can I be on your blogroll?

(I feel like a chorus of Mr. Rogers' "Won't you be my neighbor?" should follow the above chanting.)

I am 75 and 9 months. I wonder where the years went. I have been married 54 years, had three kids. It all went by too fast. I have no problem telling my age. My silver hair looks nice, I am told I do not look my age. My mother-in-law refused to tell her age.. always told the children she was 100. we found out her age after she died.. she was 76. Age has its benefits.. Usually younger folks let me go ahead in lines, open doors for me.. the first time that happened I was totally surprised. Now I just say thank you. A large number of volunteers are older people. Without them I think a lot of organizations would be unable to make profits. I work at the humane society. I know more than three fourths of the volunteers are older women. we work hard.

I am 52 and will be 53 this coming Sunday! Peculiarly, when I draw close to my birthday each year, I start blurting out my soon-to-be age. Not sure why; I just do.

I do not lie about my age, and don't plan to. I am proud of what I've accomplished at my age, in terms of returning to a normal weight and becoming an "adult-onset athlete." I define myself by how I feel and what I can do, not by how old I am. I do tell people (when it's appropriate) that I feel about half my age, most of the time.

I had a very good role model in my Dad . . . he started bicycling in his 50s, and continued until his 70s, when he was forced to stop due to illness. He also was a weightlifter from very early in his adult life, up until his 70s.

Not surprisingly, my two favorite fitness pursuits are (a) biking, and (b) weightlifting.

I have to say that all of you have extremely great outlooks. I am 53 and after a relationship gone bad and age discrimination in a job I had held for fifteen years, I decided to go back to school to get my degree. I will be 57 before I am able to work in the field of my dreams. All in all though I do find the age discrimination makes me cringe at telling my fellow students how old I am. The first thing I plan to do when I start making money is get a face lift. Not so much because of my vanity, (which I admit I have a lot of) but because I have to work until I die. It therefore behooves me to look younger so I can stay employed. My 53 years of experience make me an excellent college student. I love school and am learning so much more than I did at 17. I have 2 beautiful granddaughters and a grandson which are my screen savers. People always ask me if they are mine, but with an incredulous look on their face, meaning of course that it couldn't possibly be so. But I do agree with what they say being 53 is much, much better than the alternative. I love life at 53, I have no regrets. This just happens to be another chapter in a life full of great experiences. I wouldn't give up all I have done to have finished school earlier. I just have to work on beating ageism...and I will!!!

Hello,
Well I have always told my age and still do. I am... 42 and proud of it! However, I get all sorts of strange reactions. The current guy I am dating insisted he doesn't date people over 35. We're still dating. Not to mention he lies about his age. I have purused his driver's license and know his real age, as I was warned by others that he was older than he had told me. I still think he's very sweet. What's in an age anyways!

Gosh, I'm 25 and already people "politely" estimate me a year younger. Where have we come?

Hey, I am 73, have waist length gray hair, use bio-identical hormones, no makeup and feel great. I am also good looking. What's an old hippie to do. I lie in the sun nude, love a sauna,and wouldn't mind a grand love affair. I don't usually go to doctors, meditate and just finished a memoir. I believe in "elder power" as well as "Elder Beauty."We are not invisible

I'm 29 and just because most guys who are interested in me are younger than me, so I tell them that I'm 26.

Nothing wrong with that.
Younger guys are great to date because they have young hearts (True Love) and they are less judgemental.

I didnt read the whole article and yes, I hate getting older. Since society thinks old=bad, used, bitter, worn out, just "OLD"...not new, not active, so yesterday.

I'm 24 almost 25 and damn proud to have made it this long!!! Hope I make it to 55 like my parents!

Is it possible to save a relationship with a girl after you revealed your real age to her? Especially if you told her in the early stages of a relationship before she had to much vested?

Marcus

well i just lied on my job application to the job i wanted. I want to manage a fashion retail store but the previous store manager was younger than 30. I'm 46 and on my application i put 36. Its unfortunate that i have to do it but theres no way they would of ever considered me if i put my real age. Thankfully i look 36 so hopefully i wont get found out!!!

My husband is 33 so he keeps me young. Has anyone here every lied on their job application, and if so did you get found out?

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