Sunday, July 29, 2012

#Agism: @FabOverFifty's Geri Brin's Vision of Aging made me feel ill!

Is there a law against discriminating on the basis of age?  I can't remember. I am thinking this morning that there is no way to control what people think about aging but there needs to be some self-control when it come to writing about it. See I know that being old is not a handicap nor a disease that can be avoided by being clean or eating right. It is a reality that we will all face sooner or later...I for one am hoping to actually live to be old and wise.

So when I read When I'm 84!, a blog post on Fab Over Fifty, I wanted to say "Did the founder of FOF really write and post this?". 

FOF is a website created and is now edited by the 64+ year old Geri Brin. As part of her responsibility on the website, Brin writes Geri's Blog.  The blog is not unlike any of our blogs.  It is suppose to reveal what is going on inside the head of the writer.  She is a very successful business woman.  She says in her short bio....
....I also wrote for publications such as New York Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Town & Country, Parents Magazine,the New York Daily News Magazine and daily paper, and co-authored two books, Kid's Stuff and Figure It Out! I became an entrepreneur in 1998 and published magazines for Liz Claiborne and Charming Shoppes, and launched Bene, a magazine about Italian Life and Style that garnered a silver Folio Award. 
My blog is about what I'm doing and thinking, and gets pretty personal at times. It's about FOFs I meet all over the place. It's about my take on current events and people as well as on things that happened "back in the day." I never plot and plan what I'm going to write. I'm a pretty off-the-cuff FOF. 
Those of us that live in the real world are impressed by this sort of resume and admire such an accomplished women.  I have commented several times on her blog and followed her sporadically over the last couple of years.  I even bought a FOF membership once so I could try out new beauty products.  After applying for a "guru" status I was accepted but never really did anything with it.

These were the images she included in the blog post!
Then Geri wrote the blog post that stopped me in my tracks.  When I'm 84! painted the view she had of old people and how they behave. I cringed because I wondered if that is what people would think of me. I am 71+  She created a list of things she did not want to do when she was 84.  It included things like:
  • Have three hairs on my head and no desire to do anything about it,
  • Have a crotchety disposition,
  • Wear makeup that looks like a two-year old applied it,
  • Have a tummy that makes me look like I’m the oldest living pregnant woman in the history of the world,
  • Stand at a supermarket, drug store, or any other checkout counter and keep the whole line waiting while I figure out where my money is.
I am trying to understand how she came to a place where she did not understand that saying these things out loud could offend people. Being old is something that we cannot change. 

I think that those of us that might be lucky enough to live to the grand old age of 84, still shop all be it slowly, have any hair left and make the effort to apply makeup can safely say that Geri needs to get out more.  She needs to spend some time with active old people and understand that a lot of what happens to us is not a choice. 

No amount of Pilate's or vegetarian diet can change the fact that 84 or 90 is a different stage in our lives and not so much about our protruding tummies as it is about what goes on inside our heads. Some old people value their appearance and some do not!  

Now this is where the isolation of the elderly is leaving society with a skewed vision of what aging is all about. The boomer generation is under the misconception that they will somehow not get old.  I guess I am begging people like Geri or all of my Studio30 Plus friends to stop and think about what they are saying.  If you are person of influence, think for a minute and realize that what you write about can be very hurtful. That is called being respectful. Ridicule does not work.

Please add this to Twitter, Linkedin or any other social media you subscribe to.  The discussion need to be carried forward. And, if you have any suggestions for what Geri or anyone like her could do in the situations she listed that might help others,  please leave a comment.



  1. I find the tone in that post a bit off-putting, too. I don't think it was intentional, so this is an interesting conversation to have. There can be a fine line between honestly discussing our fears, even poking fun at our own aging process, and being insensitive. (I worry about crossing that line at times, myself).

    I think we face an interesting challenge. On the one hand, let's use everything that medical science is learning to keep ourselves as healthy as possible. Let's question whether things considered "normal" are, in fact, really inevitable. But let's not try to blame people for their own age-based decline, or imply that we can avoid it altogether. It's coming for all of us, in one form or another.

  2. I agree with you Anne...the article was intended to be fun but just missed the mark. I suppose it all is relevant to what age you are. "Normal" is a moving target so who knows about that. I know so many old people that cannot help being slow or even smelling a little foul. It is just sad. But implying that they are that way because they want to be and had a choice is a little cruel.

    Thank you for your comment. I like your take on the subject.



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