opinion

Christine Anu writes: "We need to stop telling women they've reached their 'used by date'."

Nicole Kidman, Tina Arena and most recently Madonna have spoken publicly about their own personal encounters with ageism.

But age bias isn’t just rife in Hollywood and the entertainment industry.

It’s everywhere.

It’s in what we read, what we are watching on TV, what we see scrolling through on social media, it’s in our workplace and it’s in the poisonous internal dialogue that we continually say to ourselves.

Ageism is a topic that rears its ugly head time-after-time, but it’s also an issue that remains stagnant and unchanged.

 

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Me and my chicki-babe ❤️️⭕️❌⭕️❌ #daughter #heart #togetherwerise

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Only last week, Madonna said she felt she was being “punished for turning 60”. This distressing comment comes after the reigning Queen of Pop was attacked online by trolls after her Medellin performance at the Billboard Music Awards.

Keyboard warriors took to their social media to make vile comments on the ‘Vogue’ singer’s outfit, her choreography and the younger man, Colombian singer Maluma, she was dancing with – calling her out for not acting age appropriate.

Before that, Tina Arena spoke about how more needs to be done so women can enjoy a lengthy and successful career in the Australian music industry during her ARIA Hall of Fame acceptance speech.

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And legendary actress, Jane Fonda spoke candidly of Hollywood directors overlooking her and fellow Oscar-winner Diane Keaton for roles, instead opting to book younger actresses.

We pride ourselves on living in an era where we can make our own choices, live the life we want to live, as well as dream big and achieve big.

Yet we are still living in a time where women are told to hang up their boots or heels, cover up and stop doing what they truly love because they’ve reached what society deems is their “used by date”.

Some women even feel they must adhere to society’s unsolicited rules before they are called out and used as a public example of a woman behaving badly.

I have the opportunity to meet and work with many accomplished women, and each and every time, the conversation about what they can and can’t do always comes up.

It’s heartbreaking to hear women say: “I’m too old for that” or “I can’t wear that at my age” or “I can’t do that at my age”.

These comments are not only disheartening, they are affecting our younger generation. And this attitude will continue on through the generations if we don’t do something now.

I’m already seeing what this negative talk is doing to my own daughter.

Already the anxiety of achieving everything now before she reaches a certain age is churning through her mind.

At 16, she shouldn’t have to be thinking about what she needs to do now before society says “no more”.

 

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Channelling Wicked ????

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I don’t want her to ever feel she needs to drop everything that she is working on because age has precedence over skill, talent, commitment and most importantly, her drive for success.

I certainly don’t want her thinking she needs to fit into this one-sized box that the world says she needs to live by.

But there is still time for change.

Let us leave a legacy that allows our daughters and our daughters’ daughters to feel empowered and to know they can be creative, they can express their individuality and still make an impact at any age.

Let’s stop following what society says is the norm and be true to ourselves.

And let’s live the life we’ve set out to achieve.

I’ll be joining Madonna in the fight against ageism, but I can’t do it alone.

And the good news is, there are some changes already happening in this space.

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Just recently, the fierce Tyra Banks featured on the front cover of Sports Illustrated magazine at the age of 45 — 23 years after making history as the first-ever African American model to grace the cover of the magazine’s annual swimsuit edition.

Tyra’s fabulous cover proves there are no barriers when it comes to age, and that you can still do anything if you want it enough and others believe in you.

Every single one of us – men and women included – need to band together and make the commitment to stop this prejudice against age.

We need to stop questioning if a person’s ability is reflective of their age.

We need to stop criticising people for not acting a certain way that society approves as age appropriate.

And we need to be kinder to ourselves – knowing full well we can do anything if we put our mind to it.

I encourage you all to join me in making change for the better!

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