Session 30 – Ashton Applewhite


  • Ageism is discriminating and stereotyping on the basis of age.
  • Ageism ironically is discrimination against our own future selves.
  • All prejudice is based on “othering”, i.e. there’s us and them. It dehumanizes people and makes it easier to discriminate.
  • Ageism affects younger people also even though we live in a culture that idolizes youth. This occurs when people assume that a young person is inexperienced which can affect their ability to get a job.
  • Ageism affects women earlier than men because they are judged more by their looks.
  • Aging is an achievement.
  • She became interested in the subject when her mother –in-law (80+ and still working) suggested that she write about older people working. She did a lot of research which changed her assumptions about aging which sparked her interest.
  • Her activism began when she was invited to speak at an arts festival where the theme was aging. The feedback was enormous and positive. She became aware that it’s a subject that everyone is interested in. She gradually became a speaker as a result and eventually wrote a book.
  • Unless we challenge the message that aging devalues us it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. It becomes our identity.
  • Think how effective an anti-aging public health initiative would be because it would not only increase lifespan but health span (i.e. years where you enjoy good health).
  • Denial of our own aging is the cornerstone of ageism. It’s ironic that our culture celebrates personal growth and development up to some time in middle age and then we’re expected to stop the clock. Aging well is doing everything possible to look and act like your younger self which is not possible.
  • It’s important to make friends of all ages which is difficult to do in an age segregated society. If we shuffle off stage then we become invisible.
  • Ashton has expressed her anti-ageism activism thought here blogs, book and T.E.D. talk. (See references below for links)
  • Once you understand your own biases, you see how prevalent it is all around us.
  • You can express your activism just by showing up.
  • Ashton describes how terrifying it was for her to give her T.E.D. talk.
  • Her talk is only 11 minutes long. It is fantastic! Share it freely (see below for a link)
  • We are making progress in this fight. Allure Magazine has banned the word “anti-aging”. The World Health Organization has a global initiative
  • The American lifespan has increased by 30 years so it will take time for institutions to catch up (structural lag) and for society to see older people as a resource and opportunity.
  • We contain all the ages that we have ever been.
  • We should aspire not to be ageless but age-full