Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Aged by Others
I've been getting white hairs since I was 14 years old. I remember exactly where I was when my friend pointed it out to me. We were in a stairwell full of teenagers transitioning to their next class. We were on our way to French class.
The idea of my aging was pointed out to me fairly early on, you could say.
As my white hairs increased, women especially felt the need to point out that those hairs were "prematurely aging" me. (Though I never got anything but compliments from men...there's a sociology paper in that.)
I kept my white hair. It was gorgeous. It came in perfectly striped, as if done by a professional.
Notice that I said it "was" gorgeous.
I got tired of women telling me things about my age, first of all. Women who knew me and women who had never met me. I got tired of people deciding things about me because of my freaking hair color.
I color it now. At first, I colored because I was tired of being put in a box and now I do it because I like how it looks.
Hair coloring aside, I wonder how many ways every day we are aged by other people's perceptions of us or how they think we should be?
How many times do we hear that certain clothes, certain music, or certain activities aren't for our age?
I cringe at how many times I have thought or said, "She's dressing too young." What? She is dressing how she feels! Have you thought or said the same?
As I look around for dance workshops to go to, my frustration increases. There is so much ageism in the world of dance. Most serious workshops are targeted at people under 25, and if there is a segment of the workshop for those of us with a few more years, they assume you are a teacher.
The dance world says "no" to me based on my years rather than my abilities.
I am invisible to them. Not for long, of course, because I am stubborn and this dancing is the love of my life.
But how many women are stopped in their tracks by this Ageism? How much beauty and wisdom and talent are we missing out on because women over 35 are shoved into pre-labeled boxes?
What have your experiences been like?