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Ageism: Challenging Prejudices Throughout History

Explore the impact of ageism in our contemporary society and discover how we can break stereotypes and promote a more inclusive and positive view of age. In this article, delve into the discussion on how age is perceived and how we can challenge prejudices that limit the potential of individuals in all stages of life.


Have you ever stopped to think that throughout our lives, we hear the phrase "YOU'RE TOO OLD TO..."? At the age of 7, we hear "you're too old to throw tantrums"; at 15, we're told "you're too old to play with dolls"; at 21, we hear that we're too old to be dancers; and when we pass the age of 50, we start hearing just "you're too old"! So, after all, what does it mean to be 'old,' and what does age have to do with it?

dancer ageism

Scientific and technological advances are pushing the boundaries of human existence. Every day, we realize that we have more possibilities to preserve our potential, and we have numerous examples of people in their 60s, 70s, and even 90s leading active lives. However, despite these advancements, our contemporary society still often confuses age with being elderly, and we need to adopt a broader perspective when addressing this issue. So, let's delve into the concept of 'age' to discuss a (pre)judice called 'ageism.'


The Evolutionary Nature of Age


What is age, and how has it been understood throughout human history? In ancient civilizations like Greece and Rome, age was intricately tied to status and power. Youth was not highly valued because young people were considered inexperienced, making them less capable of making important decisions. As the years passed, men (yes, women were often left out) were associated with wisdom and authority.


In the Middle Ages, with lower life expectancy, children were considered adults at an earlier age, and the young workforce was highly prized. Diseases, famine, and poor living conditions significantly reduced people's life expectancy. People generally had short lives, leading to an association with finiteness. Additionally, religion played a significant role in connecting age to the proximity of death, emphasizing the need for spiritual preparation for this transition.


The Industrial Revolution brought significant changes in the perception of age, creating a distinction between childhood, adulthood, and old age. With the need for a workforce, youth gained importance, while old age became increasingly associated with a period of 'rest.' This transformation not only redefined the roles of different age groups in society but also shaped expectations regarding the life cycle, promoting the valorization of productivity in youth and relegating old age to a period of rest and inactivity.


How Do We View Age in Our Contemporary World?


Now we've reached our contemporary world, where life expectancy continues to rise, and how should we approach age? The notion of age is fluid and shaped by social, cultural, and economic contexts. The passage of time and its biological consequences are an undeniable reality of human existence. However, as we continue to evolve, it's crucial to recognize, embrace, and challenge the stereotypes that have shaped the concept of age throughout our history. So, in modern days, how should we define these boundaries?


The Blurry Border of Being Elderly


We need to reflect on how and when a person is considered elderly. Aging is a gradual process, and the border between being young and being elderly is subjective and influenced by various factors. However, it's essential to acknowledge how a person sees themselves in relation to age and how this can play a fundamental role in their life experience and self-definition. This new perspective does not disrespect the respect for older people, who have valuable experiences to contribute to society over the years. Nevertheless, how can we define ourselves based on an imposed structure of 'the age when a person is considered elderly'?


Challenging Stereotypes and Prejudices, and Social Media


While it's crucial to value older people, it's also vital to challenge the stereotypes that can arise around the age written on birthday candles. This prejudice is known as ageism and, if we reflect on it, manifests at all stages of life. Therefore, questioning the relationship between age and life stages is not only possible but necessary since it influences how society perceives those with more experience, the 'vintage' individuals.


It's also essential to rethink how social media still glorify youth as the most desirable phase of life. As our cells, tissues, and bodies undergo profound changes every day, the glorification of youth becomes even more intriguing when we consider that aging is an inevitable process that we all face. So, it's incomprehensible that society continues to highlight one phase of life to the detriment of others when the reality is that all of us, without exception, will go through different stages on our journey.


Even when discussing the 'third age' on the internet, the emphasis is often placed on the challenges, diseases, and problems associated with this stage. However, the fact that aging is also a state of mind, a perspective that should be considered more comprehensively, is often neglected. It's important to recognize that with each passing day, we age by one day, but this should not be separated from the ability to live fully and enjoy all stages of life.


So, EMBARK ON THIS JOURNEY!


Here at "Vintage Teenager" we aim to promote a positive approach to age and encourage people to consider that age is just one aspect of the human journey, not necessarily linked to old age. Instead of exclusively focusing on chronological youth, we need to recognize that youth transcends temporal limitations.


Liked our article? 💬 Share your opinion in the comments and help us spread a positive perspective on age. 🔄 Don't forget to share with friends and family who can also be inspired by this journey!

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