We’ve all seen the headlines—“5 Foods for Fighting Wrinkles,” or, “10 Tips for Keeping Grey Hair at Bay.” And, chances are, most of us have clicked on them too; lured in by the promise of some new anti-aging secret.
In our youth-obsessed society, where being old is viewed as an inevitable curse that will eventually strike all of us at some point, ageism is rampant. Perhaps this is the driving force behind our never-ending search for a miracle “cure” that will stave off the effects of getting older.
But is slopping cream that costs $100 an ounce on our hands, and injecting chemicals into our laugh lines really the best way to approach the aging process? Wouldn’t we all be better off learning to accept and appreciate the gifts brought on by the advancing years instead of obsessing about the issues of aging?
Where do prejudices against old age come from?
Princeton University researchers, Susan Fiske and Michael North recently published a scientific paper aimed at answering that very question.
In their article, they outline three main issues that underpin prejudice against aging adults: consumption, succession and identity.
Consumption is the notion that elderly adults should not be consuming vast quantities of scarce resources, such as health care.
Succession describes the philosophy that elders need to step aside from desirable jobs and social positions, in order to allow younger individuals to step into those roles.
Identity says that older people should avoid acting younger than they truly are.
People engage in acts of ageism by praising elders who adhere to these society-prescribed rules, and by punishing those who violate them.
The benefits of going against the ageist grain
When asked what the secret to successful aging is, the spryest seniors often reply with some variation of the idea that a person is really only as young as they feel.
This advice puts elders in somewhat of a bind. After all, how is an aging adult supposed to feel young when society doesn’t want them to act young?
It seems as though the most energetic elders respond to this conundrum by simply thumbing their noses at the notion that one must always act one’s true age. These rebellious men and women have decided that they will act as young as they want to—regardless of what the cultural norms dictate.
Here are 4 fabulous examples of elders who are determined to stay young-at-heart:
Jimmy Kimmel wants to know: “What’s the wildest thing you’ve ever done?” (See video above)
Next page: see three more hilarious examples of elders defying ageism.