Seventy Is the New Seventy. Own It.
By Erica and Karen
Before we retired, ageism was one form of discrimination we never really thought much about. We knew that people had unfair assumptions about what older folks looked like, and what they could and could not do, and the jokes and stereotypes made us uncomfortable. Especially as we had lots of retired friends who had to go too soon and we wished were still colleagues. Frankly, though, we didn’t think of all that as “ageism”--judgments and jokes based solely upon age. Now, of course, we know better. Ageism--the stereotypes, the assumptions, the jokes, the segregation--makes no sense.
We hear that age is just a number. Yes, but it is an important one. We don’t really buy into headlines that sixty is the new forty, and eighty is the new sixty. We understand what they are getting at--the old outdated assumptions and stereotypes about what those ages look and feel like are wrong. But aren’t these just the anti-aging trope in sheep’s clothing?
Wouldn’t it be better to say seventy is seventy and this is what it looks like? Shouldn’t we embrace our age and own it? Seventy today has many of the same health attributes as fifty did yesterday--like a life expectancy runway of 20 years or so. On the other hand, seventy is different in many critical ways. People who are seventy have had twenty more years of experiences, good and bad, many more opportunities to test their judgment, good and bad, and a perspective that is twenty years richer. And we’re still going strong.
We all know people who, intending to be kind, tell us we don’t look our age. We might respond: “Yes, we do. This is what seventy looks like.”