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Introducing the Asterisk


first_imgby, Kyrié Carpenter, Managing EditorTweet1Share206Share53Email260 Shares An Introduction from Ashton Applewhite.The performer steps on stage. From the front row I am captivated. Her charisma is infectious; I am hanging on every word. I feel like I am at a TED Talk — I am not. I am at BOOM! The first conference of Boomers Leading Change in Health in Denver, Colorado. This conference is geared towards baby boomers who see the upside of aging and delivers the call to action of, “It’s time to change the world again!” I am listening to Ashton Applewhite, anti-ageism author (This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism) and activist. I am listening to her talk about growing old and I am inspired.How refreshing it is, to be surrounded by people being curious about aging and allowing for the possibility of an upside.We are all, each and every day of our lives aging. While it may be a profitable industry, to be “anti-aging” is a physical impossibility while alive. Listening to Ashton constellated something in me.Age is a criterion for diversity just like gender, sexual orientation or race. As with these other factors, there is rampant discrimination based on age. Much of this discrimination is internalized. In her talk Ashton Applewhite wondered why when older people lose keys we call it a senior moment, but when it happened in high school we didn’t call it a junior moment. The answer? Ageism.This internalized ageism is reinforced by our culture at large as well. Age is a diversity factor which will render all humans in the minority culture, many of us twice at the two ends of our lives. We all have ideas of what we are expected to do at a given age and what we expect from others at their ages. These generalizations can add order and efficiency to our lives but they also lead to pigeonholing and discrimination when we do not follow the set patterns or when our appearance does not match our calendar age. The best way to decrease stigma and discrimination is through awareness.Ageism is insidious because it is largely unconscious, it is time for that to change!I give you the asterisk.An asterisk denotes that there is more to something. In writing it is used to send the reader to a footnote for further explanation. Let’s add an asterisk to age. Our years on this planet are important, age is not something to be hidden or lied about, but it is something to add an asterisk to: there is more to the story than the assumptions that come with a number. Put the asterisk by your name in an email signature, next to your age anytime you are asked to give it, on business cards, in store windows on bumper stickers and when possible have a paragraph explaining it so others can follow suit (see an example below). Let the asterisk become a symbol that age is a number of years spent on the planet AND that there is more to be said, our number of years does not define our life, our value, who we are or how we deserve to be treated.The asterisk says to be curious about this human who has an age but isn’t their age.*This asterisk symbolizes my belief and commitment that humans are more than their age and that stereotypes and discriminations based on age need to be challenged within our own psyches and the world!Related PostsA New, Powerful Tool to Defeat AgeismAshton Applewhite, activist and author of This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism, recently delivered an 11-minute barn-burning TED Talk called “Let’s End Ageism” that is the clearest and most concise, entertaining, and impactful introduction to the scourge of ageism I’ve ever heard.From Ageism to Age PrideAshton Applewhite stands before a room of dozens of people expecting to hear the same ‘ol spiel. Instead, she poses a question: “What is every person in this room going to become?” When no one offers an answer she continues. “Older. The prospect has an awful lot of us scared…Declaring Independence From AgeismThis Fourth of July lets declare independence from ageism! It won’t be an easy revolution. Like the colonial British Empire, ageism won’t roll over without a fight.Tweet1Share206Share53Email260 Shareslast_img read more