Ageism in the Age of Ambition (turn down for what?)

Once upon a time, the manager of a prominent company I worked for, pulled me into her office and decided that it was her birthright to tell me I was acting like a twelve-year-old girl and not a thirty-seven year old women. Huh? Yes, I admit, I am a bit bouncy, playful and “daydreamy”, but I’m also accomplished, astute and affable. How dare she try to drag me into her cage of misery by suggesting that her way of projecting womanhood and ambition were to be revered ? As she sat there looking all of mid-twenties yet dressed like Susan B. Anthony, she tried her best to portray her “grown woman”. With a callous face and eyes like razor-sharp acrylic nails, it was obvious that rage was working itself into an artful design of crows feet around her beady eyes. And she was only a few years older than me.

How do you tell someone that being “catty”, divisive, and cut-throat is not the mark of a grown woman (so please ignore the Susan B. Anthony remark), that they are a dying breed, that age has been given the boot by women who understand that vivacious, joyous, and energetic living is the very hallmark of a women who is unapologetically strutting in her creativity; unwilling to settle into the shadows of a dark, dank, dungeon until her last breath. I wanted to tell her that she could cut your hair as short as Demi Moore in G.I Jane, throw fancy words around like a quarter back, and still come out looking like a minor league water girl. It’s bad enough that we live in a culture that insinuates to women, “Well, you’re twenty-five now, time for the grave.” But to demean one another with ageism is super-sister sack relig. If it were up to her, I’d be washed up on the shore like a two-hundred-year old crab.

My mentors are women like Jane Fonda who released her latest fitness DVD at the age of 77, Diana Nyad who swam the English channel at 64, Oprah Winfrey who at the tender, juicy age of 61 is still shimmying all the way to the bank with her ever expanding, massive, empire and the list goes on. Truth be told, at one time I started to buy into the lie about being twenty-five and almost washed up, but now I look back and see how young I truly was back then. I know now that setting limitations on myself based on age is a little, well, silly. Trying to assert my adulthood with meticulous make-up, shiny pashminas and conservative business suits is the mark of someone who is desperately in need of peer approval.

Everyday, I remind myself that I’ve shown up on this planet looking and feeling the way I do as just one of many examples that exist on the planet. Authentic womanhood comes from accepting yourself fully and completely in the present moment while knowing that there is still yet more glorious growing to be done. So who am I to stifle my youthful shine and chipper way of being? Just a twelve-year-old girl learning to be a woman.

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