Do You Look Good For Your Age? 4 Tips to Fight Ageism
—Grace & Truth Linkup

4 Tips to Fight Ageism

Is This a Compliment?

“You’re how old?”

I tell my friend my number. He says he can’t believe it. He says I look great for my age.

Is this a compliment? Or not?

I’m conflicted.

I assume nobody wants to look older than their age in our culture.

But do we need to look younger?

What Counts As Old?

If you’ve tried buying a birthday card for anyone over age 29, you’ve seen all the “old age” cards, the “over the hill” slams, the “old geezer” jokes.

But who is considered old?

It depends.

By life expectancy standards, you’re “old” when you’re within 15 years of dying.

Both my parents died when they were in their early 70s, so if I follow their pattern, at 60 I’m already technically “old.”

But if were a woman in Japan, where a 60-year-old woman is expected to live to be 88 (it’s 85 in the U.S.), I wouldn’t be considered “old” until I am 73. (See this chart for how many years, on average, you have left, depending on your current age.)

We don’t want to die young, yet we don’t want to get old.

More conflicts.

Fear of Aging Is Cultural

In This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism, Ashton Applewhite writes,

“Fear of dying is human. Fear of aging is cultural.”

Maybe it’s not old age itself that we fear.

So what do we fear?

  • Getting sick. 
  • Feeling more pain.
  • Having limitations.
  • Becoming dependent.
  • Losing our memories.

But these things are not the same thing as aging. Getting older is, well, just getting older.

Granted, the difficult things we fear do occur more often with age. But not always and not necessarily. And hopefully we’ll not be alone to deal with them if/when they do occur.

4 Tips Against Ageism

To avoid being ageist (discriminating against people because of their age, whether younger or older), here are a few tips.

1. Give compliments about the trait, not the age.
When you compliment someone, don’t connect it to their age. Instead of saying, “You’re so young at heart,” say “You’re fun to be around.”

2. Avoid addressing people with cutesy names.
Not every older person (or person of any age) appreciates being called “Sweetie” or “Young lady.” Unless you know someone prefers it, don’t do it. It might feel degrading to them, even if your intention is good.

3. Accept age as you do other traits.
Age itself should be neutral, just as skin tone, height, or eye color should be neutral. We don’t need to be blind to it, but we can stop discriminating against it.

4. Associate with people of all ages.
Don’t assume you only have things in common with people of your own generation. Mix it up.

By becoming more aware of the ageist things we think and say, we can eliminate some of the bias against olders (and youngers). After all, our goal is to keep living, thus joining the crowd of olders (if we’re not already there), and we don’t want to discriminate against ourselves.

Every Age Has Purpose

I just had a milestone birthday last week. I’m still struggling to adopt an improved mindset against ageism. I hear the negative voices in my own head about getting older.

But I’m at least becoming more aware of the ageist stereotypes I’ve been duped into believing. That’s the first step out of them.

Because as long as I’m still here, whatever my age and however I look, I want to live my best life, even with boundaries that may develop over time.

God designed each of us to live with purpose—to love others and be loved by others. We can do this at any age.

Yes, we may (or may not) have to shift the way we travel or shop or care for ourselves as we age, but that doesn’t mean we can’t live fully, with meaning and joy.

If it happens again that someone tells me I look good for my age, I’ll still say thank you.

But I might reply back, You look good for your age too, whatever age that is!

How do you feel about your age? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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21 thoughts on “Do You Look Good For Your Age? 4 Tips to Fight Ageism
—Grace & Truth Linkup

  1. Jennifer Smith

    I have to confess after my milestone birthday earlier this year, I have struggled with my age. Believing the stereotypes (and lies), I suppose. So glad for the truth…we can live with purpose and with joy whatever our age. Thanks for the reminder!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I know what you mean. Some numbers seem heavier than others. 🙂 I haven’t fully come to terms yet with 60, but hopefully I will. I feel so ageless on the inside. But the outside tells me differently. lol.

  2. Linda Stoll

    Wow! If someone tells me I look great for my age, I’d take and run with it. I think I’ve only heard that a couple of times in recent years. But people keep on thinking that my husband is my girls’ brother. He loves every minute of it.

    But for sure I do hate being called ‘young lady.’

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m sure your husband does love hearing that! lol. It is odd how the compliments change (and fade away) as we gain years. It brings a different perspective as I become more aware of it…

  3. Debbie Wilson

    Linda, I enjoyed your post. I never heard about the “15 year before dying” thing. I had a landmark birthday this year too, and my good friend announced it to the world. Thank you so much! Suddenly, some of the gals in my Bible study, many are 20 years younger, started viewing me differently and using the phrases you brought out. I have to say their comments gave me pause. Good to know I’m not considered old yet!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Isn’t it funny how people can respond to us differently when they hear a number? Sigh. Unfortunately, I probably responded to “older women” differently when I was much younger too. If I could turn back the clock (and thankfully I can’t! lol), I hope I’d let go of the ageist discrimination that I held.

  4. Barbara Harper

    Besides the things you mentioned, one of my fears–or at least dislikes–about getting older is being considered “out of touch” or disregarded just because of my age. I’ve never minded saying my age until the last few because I don’t want people to mentally put me out to pasture.

    In the first church we were in after we married, Sunday School classes and ladies’ groups were a joy mixed of ages. I learned so much from ladies of every age. But in subsequent churches, classes were separated by age and younger women didn’t want to come to the ladies’ meetings because the ones who attended were mostly “older.” That really hurt! Thankfully a few did start coming eventually.

    I so agree that age is one of those things we need to get past, and we need to look at everyone as an individual of worth.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes. I don’t like being judged as out of touch just because of my age either. It’s strange being the “older one” in some settings now, and discovering how often the youngers avoid talking with the olders. I’m sure I was the same when I was their age, though, unfortunately.

      I also agree it’s not helpful when we always have to separate by age. We have so much to gain from relationships with people of all ages, not just our own, and sometimes we need a little extra nudge to help us talk with each other.

  5. Lynn

    “Age itself is neutral.” I love that, Lisa. I’d like to live as if age truly does not matter except to distinguish me for my Canadian citizenship and income taxes. Oh, why do we have measure people as “old” or “young” instead of just a person? But with that said, I do take advantage of seniors discounts. 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Such a great question, Lynn: “Why do we have measure people as “old” or “young” instead of just a person?” I don’t know either. But yes, when possible I also take advantage of senior discounts, just like when I was young and given child discounts. 🙂

  6. Donna B Reidland

    At 73, I appreciate your post, Lisa. You have addressed some very real issues. Personally, I don’t worry too much about getting older although I have come to realize that I do have certain limitations physically and can’t do everything I used to do. And I have noticed in certain situations, that people can dismiss you, especially in a culture that doesn’t value age. But I don’t want to focus on that. I think it only leads to self-pity.

    I especially liked this paragraph:
    “Yes, we may (or may not) have to shift the way we travel or shop or care for ourselves as we age, but that doesn’t mean we can’t live fully, with meaning and joy.”

    I, also, agree with you that it’s so valuable and more biblical I believe for our social groups to be integrated by age, as well as, life situations like marriage and singleness. We can all learn so much from each other.

    And I don’t think it’s necessarily the younger people who are at fault. I was in a large church for many years where there was a very popular class primarily made up of the older generation. One of our retired pastors expressed much frustration with many of them because they were too comfortable just socializing together and having a “retirement” attitude about ministry. Yet, the Bible tells us that the older women (and men) are to be teaching and mentoring the younger women. It’s all too easy to think we have done our part and just sit back and marinate.

    Thanks for talking about a subject that we all need to better understand, Lisa. Blessings to you!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thank you for sharing this wisdom here, Donna! I appreciate hearing your insights, and also your gentle admonition that we “olders” don’t need to voluntarily put ourselves out to pasture when we still have so much to give. I hope there will be ongoing conversations among all the generations as we recalibrate how we think about aging.

  7. Trudy

    Such great points, Lisa. And this is such an important truth to follow – “God designed each of us to live with purpose—to love others and be loved by others. We can do this at any age.” Love and blessings to you!

  8. Lynn Severance

    Lisa, based on your recommendation, I purchased a copy of “This Chair Rocks’ and appreciate your reviewing its key points here. As you know, I now live in a wonderful faith-focused senior community. The average age is 83. I am not ‘there yet’ but getting close as I walk through my 80th year. We have folks here in their 90s and some 100 and a few over that by a year or two. The differences I see is there are those who want to stay involved (and there are many ways here to do that) and they radiate vibrancy. Some are in wheelchairs but ‘wheeling’ to an activity where they can participate. I am living with new limitations but ‘inside’ I am still ‘thinking young’ and there are opportunities here in the community I have embraced but I also am CEO of ‘couch ministries’ as I type away at my computer engaging also in online communities.

    We don’t think of aging when we are in our 30’s or 40’s (even with the age related birthday cards) and I think that is great. When we are those ages, we need to ‘live to the maximum’ what we can during those years. And moving along to these older years (for some of us), we need to keep engaged as best we can with what these years bring.

    I am a strong believer that women of different ages need opportunities to sit down and share with one another from their life perspectives (as one of your other readers mentioned, too). How else can we honor one another if we don’t know the ways life has been and continues to be for each of us. Our churches, too, need to focus on the mandate that we ‘are’ the Body of Christ’ and each one makes up the whole and needs to feel respected and honored and known – not put off into a segregated group of like-aged people!

    The gift of years is a true gift to be celebrated!

  9. Tea With Jennifer

    I’m delighted to be seen as an ol’ gal Lisa!

    I’m officially classified as a ‘Senior’ in my country. We even get given a special Senior’s Card to prove it (a discount concession card)!

    I have worked extremely hard & been through a great deal to ‘earn’ every wrinkle & a head full of white hair, lol! And I wouldn’t change a thing!

    Asian culture highly respects the elders of their society. I experienced this when I visited there some years back. It was very refreshing!

    Where sadly the West has lost this respect & gone the other way with Ageism against our elders.

    I agree everyone deserves respect, no matter what age they may appear to be.
    Blessings, Jennifer

  10. Gail

    Loved this post. I campaign against gender based ageism, which is endemic in the workplace. It’s one of the reasons a lot of people have stopped working over 50, starving companies of their expertise.

  11. Paula Short

    Lisa, this is a fantastic message. You share such insightful thoughts here. One of my favorite things is listening to elderly people’s stories. And I mean I love to listen no matter how many times they’ve told me the same story.
    visiting today from G&T

  12. Barbara Lea Campbell

    As of September 2022 I am 60. My mother never made a big deal about aging. She always told me (and lived it out) that our bodies get older.. we can’t stop that, but our attitudes don’t have to be old. She didn’t strive to be young, she just continued to be active and live the life God had for her. I am so thankful for her example. I was thrilled to be 60.. love the life I have… consider myself blessed . No matter what you age, I think we need to embrace and be present in whatever season God has us. Don’t pine away what has passed or spend all your time wishing for (or dreading) what is to come. Also.. want to recommend a a great book.. Aging with Grace by Sharon Betters and Susan Hunt.

  13. Anita Ojeda

    Oh, I needed to read this, and I didn’t even realize I needed to! I always joke about finding the fountain of youth because I work with teens. This is a good reminder to keep up friendships with people of all ages.

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