It’s no secret that we live in a culture that doesn’t exactly revere our elders. It’s generally assumed that “looking younger” is a universal and laudable goal. Now, that goal is even being packaged as an economic investment, especially for women (but men aren’t immune). To get a better job, or to keep the one you have, getting bleached, dyed, nipped, tucked, lipo’d, and/or botoxed is presented as a smart career move. Employers want people who are keeping up with the times in a fast-paced, constantly changing environment, we’re told, and looking like the grandmother of the hiring manager signals that we no longer have the energy or mental nimbleness to keep up. The generation that declared, “never trust anyone over 30″ is now reaping what we’ve sown.
The book is the latest makeover title to treat the aging of one’s exterior as a disease whose symptoms are to be fought to the death or, at least, mightily camouflaged. But the book offers a serious rationale for such vigilant attempts at age control, arguing that trying to pass for younger is not so much a matter of sexual allure as of job security.
“Looking hip is not just about vanity anymore, it’s critical to every woman’s personal and financial survival,” according to the book jacket.
The NYT writer, Natasha Singer goes on to say:
Many people would shun a book if it were titled “How Not to Look Jewish” or “How Not to Look Gay” because to cater to discrimination is to capitulate to it. But the success of “How Not to Look Old” indicates that popular culture is willing to buy into ageism as an acceptable form of prejudice, even against oneself.
“Ageism is one of the last frontiers of discrimination where people think that a way around it is not to be seen to age, but we would never say that women should try to look or act more male in order to avoid sexism,” said Molly Andrews, a psychologist who is a director of the Center for Narrative Research at the University of East London.
I’m of a mixed mind about this. In my line of work, we really don’t care about age so much as experience, and whether the individual seems to have kept up with technology and is willing to continue to learn. Some of the most forward-thinking people I deal with daily are well over 50 and don’t go to great pains to hide it. Still, if I were to find myself unemployed tomorrow, I’d probably be scrutinizing my appearance and wanting to present myself as energized and contemporary if not necessarily younger. At this point in my life, I’d probably draw the line at anything medical though.
What about you? Does age impact your career? How far would you go to improve your job prospects?
All original content property of http://www.unefemme.net
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 United States License.