This Chair Rocks

People are happiest at the beginnings and the ends of their lives. Only 2.5% of Americans over 65 live in nursing homes. Older people enjoy better mental health than the young or middle-aged. Dementia rates are falling, fast. So how come so many of us unthinkingly assume that depression, diapers, and dementia lie ahead? That the 20th century’s astonishing leap in life expectancy is a disaster-in-the making? Underlying all the hand-wringing is ageism: discrimination that sidelines and silences older people. So I’ve written a book. I blog about it. I led the team that developed Old School, a clearinghouse of anti-ageism resources. I am the voice of Yo, Is This Ageist? (Go ahead, ask me.) I’ve written a consciousness-raising booklet. And I speak widely. All tools to help catalyze a movement to make discrimination on the basis of age as unacceptable as any other kind.

About the Book

Buy the book

From childhood on, we’re barraged by messages that it’s sad to be old. That wrinkles are embarrassing, and old people useless. Author and activist Ashton Applewhite believed them too—until she realized where this prejudice comes from and the damage it does. Lively, funny, and deeply researched, This Chair Rocks traces Applewhite’s journey from apprehensive boomer to pro-aging radical, and in the process debunks myth after myth about late life. The book explains the roots of ageism—in history and in our own age denial—and how it divides and debases, examines how ageist myths and stereotypes cripple the way our brains and bodies function, looks at ageism in the workplace and the bedroom, exposes the cost of the all-American myth of independence, critiques the portrayal of olders as burdens to society, describes what an all-age-friendly world would look like, and concludes with a rousing call to action. Whether you’re older or hoping to get there, this book will shake you by the shoulders, cheer you up, make you mad, and change the way you see the rest of your life. Age pride!

Wow. This book totally rocks. It arrived on a day when I was in deep confusion and sadness about my age—62. Everything about it, from my invisibility to my neck. Within four or five wise, passionate pages, I had found insight, illumination and inspiration. I never use the word empower, but this book has empowered me.

ANNE LAMOTT, New York Times best-selling author

Along comes Ashton Applewhite with a book we have been waiting for. Anti-ageism now boasts a popular champion, activist, and epigrammatist in the lineage of Martial and Dorothy Parker. Until This Chair Rocks we haven’t had a single compact book that blows up myths seven to a page like fireworks.

LOS ANGELES REVIEW OF BOOKS

 

“Ashton Applewhite is the Malcolm Gladwell of ageism.”
-JAMES BECKFORD SAUNDERS, CEO, Australian Association of Gerontology

Vibrant, energetic, fact-filled and funny, This Chair Rocks is a call to arms not just for older people but for our whole society.

KATHA POLLITT, poet, essayist, and Nation columnist

Sometimes a writer does us all a great favor and switches on a light. Snap! The darkness vanishes and, in its place we find an electric vision of new ways of living. I want to live in a world where ageism is just a memory, and This Chair Rocks illuminates the path.

DR. BILL THOMAS, founder of Changing Aging

This Chair Rocks is radical, exuberant, and full of all sorts of facts that erase many of the myths and beliefs about late life. As Applewhite defines and describes ageism, new ways of seeing and being in the world emerge, empowering everyone to see things as they really are.

LAURIE ANDERSON, artist

A knowledgeable, straight-talking, and witty book that briskly explains to anyone how-wrong-we-are-about-aging. There’s radical news here to enlighten the most “done” starlet, and
tart turns of phrase to captivate the most expert age critic: ‘All aging is “successful”—not just the sporty version—otherwise you’re dead.’ This pithy primer ought ideally to be given to every American adolescent—to inoculate them against the lies and stereotypes that can spoil the long life course they will all want.

Margaret Morganroth Gullette, author of Aged by Culture and the prize-winning Agewise and Declining to Decline

Ashton Applewhite is a visionary whose time has come, tackling one of the most persistent biases of our day with originality, verve, and humor. Her magic formula of naming and shaming may just shake all of us out of complacency and it into action. Whether you relate through being older now or recognize that aging is in your future, this is one of the most important books you’ll ever read.

Marc Freedman, CEO of Encore.org and author of The Big Shift: Navigating the New Life Stage Before Midlife

A smart and stirring call to add ageism to the list of ‘isms’ that divide us, and to mobilize against it. Applewhite shows how ageism distorts our view of old age, and urges us to challenge age- based prejudices in ourselves and in society. An important wake-up call for any baby boomer who’s apprehensive about growing old.

Pepper Schwartz, Professor of Sociology, University of Washington and AARP’s Official Love & Relationship Ambassador

This Chair Rocks is a 2016 Foreword INDIES Winnerin Adult Nonfiction!

Smart, sassy and oh so wise.

AARP

Finally, a take-down of the last acceptable prejudice. Applewhite eloquently and expertly exposes the structural discrimination that makes growing older so much harder than it should be—not just for the white, affluent, healthy, and able-bodied, but for women, people of color, people with disabilities, and poor people. Full of treasures, This Chair Rocks should be required reading for everyone in aging services, to help us confront ageism in our personal and professional lives and join forces against it. As Applewhite writes, ‘It’s time for Age Pride.’

Donna Corrado, Commissioner, NYC Department for the Aging

An eloquent and well-researched exposé of the prejudice that feeds age bias, and a passionate argument to mobilize against it. This must-read book is also a fun-read for every age.

Stephanie Coontz, author, The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap

To live agefully – what a wonderful word! With warmth, wit and clarity, Ashton Applewhite explains what it means, while never falling into age-denial or age-shame. This is a book packed with provocative and liberating ideas, to make you leap into the air with pleasure – even if your knees, like mine, are a little dodgy.

Anne Karpf, author of How to Age


Blog

Readers are encouraged to distribute, remix, and tweak this material! Please credit This Chair Rocks/
Ashton Applewhite

An expert's take on the standard definition of "ageism"

This guest post is by Toni Calasanti, a professor of sociology at Virginia Tech. She has long been passionate about fighting ageism, advocating for "our right to grow old in diverse ways without facing mockery, stigma, or exclusion, however grey-haired or wrinkly we become; and whatever care or support we need at any time.” Professor Calasanti generously served as an expert reader of Old School's forthcoming consciousness-raising guide to the intersection of ageism and sexism, Ageist? Sexist? Who, Me? In it, we relied on the dictionary definition of ageism as stereotyping, prejudice and/or discrimination based on age. Here's why she thinks we can do better:

"Personally, I would not include these all together; and I find it useful to take them apart. Stereotypes are just that, group-based generalizations that are applied to individuals; they can be positive, negative, neutral. And in and of themselves they are not problematic, i.e., stereotypes often are rooted in "reality" at least in terms of the majority. As a group, old people ARE weaker than are younger people, or are more wrinkled, or whatever. At issue is how we EVALUATE these stereotypes, which is how I think of prejudice--a negative assessment of those stereotypes. But this is also different from discrimination--i.e., exclusionary behavior. This latter is how I choose to define ageism, drawing on [Dr. Robert] Butler's work and even more, the comparison between ageism and other forms of oppression, such as sexism. So yes, old people are more marginalized; this is not because of stereotypes per se (or even prejudice; policies or laws can protect disadvantaged groups such that they can evade discrimination).

"These distinctions are important to me for the reasons implicit above; but also they do not allow us to get at the deepest level of ageism, i.e., what if a stereotype is true, or is true of an individual? What if they are frail, or wrinkled, etc.? Does this mean that they should be excluded/marginalized? If we are going to fight ageism, in my opinion we need to be able to validate those stereotypes in the sense of being able to say that a person is valuable regardless of the extent to which it fits them.”

announcing The Biddies

The next Old School Anti-Ageism Clearinghouse newsletter is out. It's an especially good-looking issue if you ask me, thanks to the portrait of Sir Richard Steele, but here's the bit I'm excited about:

Announcing The Biddies—women bringing ageism into the conversation around aging—and our new consciousness-raising guide

Hundreds of groups now celebrate women’s voice and visibility as we move into midlife and beyond. Many have emerged in recent years to bring menopause out of the closet and support going gray. Others have been around for decades. Many are ageism-aware, while others aspire to be “still young” and “still sexy." 

Growing older is different for women because we face the double whammy of ageism and sexism. Old School's new consciousness-raising guide, Ageist? Sexist? Who, Me? addresses how to recognize this toxic intersection and come together to undo it, starting between our ears. Consciousness-raising is the tool that catalyzed the women’s movement. 

Please join us at noon ET on Thursday 9 September for the launch of Ageist? Sexist? Who, Me?  and the inaugural meeting of The Biddies. During this two-hour workshop, we’ll collaborate on personal and collective action plans to raise consciousness of ageism in women’s groups. Register here.

Join us!

Let’s Climb Out of the Generation Trap

This piece first appeared on NextAvenue. It's about why I'd like people to use "generation" less. A lot less.

When The Who howled “talkin’ ‘bout my generation” in 1968, they were referencing a group of people born and alive at about the same time. That’s what the word means to most of us: generations in a family and, more generally, age contemporaries at different stages of life.  But we use it to mean lots of other things too, and that’s a habit we need to break.

The word sure comes in handy. Belonging to a generation contributes to a sense of personal and collective identity. It’s attractive to social scientists, who look for demographic patterns, and useful to the media because it lends itself to storytelling. We use “generation” to describe not only who lived through what and with whom, but also the meaning and values we attach to those experiences — individually and collectively. That’s a hell of a mandate! But precisely because “generation” refers to so many different things, we use it too much and too carelessly. That’s the problem.

We may think we know what generation”means, but the concept has no scientific basis. Generational durations and beginning and end dates vary. It’s mathematically almost impossible to distinguish between age, period and cohort effects. This leads to unfair representations, like tarring Millennials as disloyal job-hoppers. But that’s an age effect, not a generational effect; it’s how people may behave when they enter the job market, no matter when they were born.

Because it’s vague, convenient and ubiquitous, “generation” is easy to use — and misuse.

In an ageist world, this has far-reaching implications. Generational framing sanctions and supports age segregation, which makes us more likely to accept age divides and inequities as “just the way things are” instead of questioning the grip of age-group groupthink on our policies and prospects. It also fosters age stereotypes — how could any generalization about millions of similar-age people possibly be accurate? — which delude and divide us. Most damagingly, “generation” is used to exaggerate what age cohorts have in common and how they differ, in order to encourage conflict and legitimize inequity: the myth of intergenerational conflict.

Generational framing pits old against young.

Invented by right-wing strategists in the 1970s, the myth of intergenerational conflict holds that the interests of old and young are inherently opposed, there’s not enough to go around and olders and youngers will soon be at each other’s throats. The media promotes this notion because conflict sells. It’s easier to point fingers than build bridges, and when times are tough, we look for scapegoats. This works in both directions, with olders bashing youngers for being lazy or disloyal and youngers blaming their elders for wrecking the planet, vacuuming up government benefits and sticking around in jobs. The song that started the #OKBoomer meme described boomers as racist, fascist Trump supporters with bad hair. It’s tempting to rise to that hateful bait, or to go on the defensive. But then everyone loses, and the planet smolders.

Generational finger-pointing obscures the struggles that confront every human being as we move through life, carrying a unique set of advantages and disadvantages into old age. It makes equity across the lifespan harder to envision and execute, by undermining the solidarity and collective action necessary to implement any social good, from affordable child care to a decent retirement. What we need now, especially in the pandemic’s wake, is support for young people around education, job training, health care, housing and family services and support for Social Security and Medicare for their parents and grandparents. The reality is that nothing matters more to most olders than the welfare of the younger people they love; there is no evidence that young people want to throw Granny to the wolves and it is grotesque to propose that the interests of old and young are inherently opposed.

Generational framing obscures the far larger role that class, along with race and gender, plays in shaping our lives.

Age plays much less of a role in shaping our paths through life than we think it does — far less than social factors like socioeconomic status, geography, ethnicity and gender. Falling into the “generation trap” distracts us from deeper questions of power and privilege. Yes, Congress is filled with people in their 60s, 70s and 80s, for example, but railing about age obscures the roots of the real problem: a political system that enables the wealthy to purchase political office and corporate interests to maintain it.

Applying a generational lens obscures the multitude of inequities that exist within age cohorts and also cut across them. Both the 1% and the 99% are made up of all ages. Net worth increases with age because people tend to acquire assets over time but maps far more closely to education level (a proxy for class). This reflects the legacy  of systemic racism as well as the gender wage gap, which cuts across all age groups and demographics and widens significantly for women of color. Claims of shared status on the basis of age ignore or erase these important distinctions.

Everyone ages. Age is easy to establish. It’s easier to delineate than the more fraught and messy variables of class, race and ethnicity. It’s less uncomfortable to address, because ageism is less examined; we’re only now beginning to call it out. But if we want a more equitable world, we have to wrestle with these commingled aspects of identity and opportunity and give age no more than its due.

Generational framing fosters stereotypes.

Another problem with making claims about an entire age cohort —whether about how much one “generation” has in common with another or how little —is that it invariably results in crude generalizations which undergird all prejudice. Plenty of olders are in better health than millions of youngers. Saints and sinners come in all ages. And so on. The only characteristic older people share, along with diminishing physical capacity, is ever-increasing heterogeneity: the longer we live, the more different from each other we become and the less our age reveals about us. As they say, if you’ve seen one 80-year-old, you’ve seen one 80-year-old.

As with national-culture models, there’s more variation within a given group than between groups, whether the group in question is adolescents or Albanians. We tend to think of Boomers as white and middle class, but most of their age peers are neither. Individuals and communities like people of color, queer people, disabled people and immigrants hold multiple identities that have a much greater effect on their trajectories than the decade in which they were born. Historical events that mark boundaries between life stages may not be shared by everyone in the same age group. Roles and rituals that signify life transitions are far from universal across class and cultures.

Age differences are real. It’s about not weaponizing them.

We can’t wish age differences away, nor should we want to. Likewise, every generation points fingers at those who came before them and finds fault with “kids these days.” I was born in 1952, into a period of unprecedented peace and prosperity for white, middle-class Americans, and youngers have many reasons to envy my extreme demographic good fortune. But  we “greedy geezers” are enacting the greatest wealth transfer in history. Families and communities are interdependent. As economics professor and longevity expert Andrew J. Scott puts it, “It’s only zero-sum if we all die young.”

The old are not the enemy. Age is not the issue. The issue is equity across the lifespan, and the stakes have never been higher. The emergence of four — even five— living generations in the 21st century is a tectonic shift. It’s happening at a time of profound uncertainty, in a world riven by deep divisions of class, race and gender. We cannot afford to add age to the mix. The alternative is solidarity across the years: coming together at all ages to tackle these wicked problems and create a more equitable and inclusive future.

Let’s break the “generations” habit unless we’re using the term  specifically —to describe immigration trends, for example, or family trees or genetic patterns.

Try “age group” instead, or “age cohort” if you want to sound like a demographer.

Try “mixed age” or “age-diverse” to describe events that involve an age range, instead of letting “intergenerational” do all the lifting.

Try describing what people are doing or saying or listening to instead of using their age or age cohort as a key identifier.

Instead of referring to yourself as a boomer, Gen Xer or Millennial, try Perennial — writer Gina Pell’s witty suggestion for what those of us who don’t want to be constrained by generational moats start calling ourselves.

Generational framing serves serve marketers, reactionaries and vested interests, but not Perennials—or the public good.

There’s more

Other Writing by
Ashton Applewhite

Let’s Climb Out of The Generation Trap

Let’s Climb Out of The Generation Trap

June 29, 2021

Link here.

Reflections on the Plague Year From an Anti-Ageism Activist

Reflections on the Plague Year From an Anti-Ageism Activist

March 15, 2021

Link here.

Defeating the Pandemic Means Confronting Ageism and Ableism

Defeating the Pandemic Means Confronting Ageism and Ableism

March 26, 2020

Link here.

Beating age discrimination

Beating age discrimination

May 1, 2019

Article in The Big Issue

An Essay by Ashton Applewhite

An Essay by Ashton Applewhite

March 14, 2019

Article on Books Inc.

There’s more

Yo, Is This Ageist?

(Go ahead, ask me.)

There’s more

Appearances

My We Are All Aging talk explains the roots of ageism – in society and in our own age denial – how it divides and diminishes us, and ends with a rousing call to mobilize against it. This Chair Rocks: How Ageism Warps Our View of Long Life charts my journey from apprehensive boomer to pro-aging radical and proposes an alternative to all the hand-wringing: wake up, cheer up, and push back. Aging While Female, Reimagined describes how the double whammy of ageism and sexism makes aging different for women, and what we can do about it. I also speak about the medicalization of old age, ageism and elder abuse, and how to reframe the new longevity in order to make the most of longer lives. To book me for your event, please contact the Lavin Agency.

What People Are Saying:

I was encouraged by the statistics you quoted, forced to acknowledge my own ageist thoughts, and ultimately fired up to fight them in myself and others. You are on to something big!

Sarah Meredith, painter

Why can’t we stop ageism? Good question. For some answers, start looking in the mirror and look around you. For a good dialogue on the subject, visit Ashton Applewhite’s website, This Chair Rocks.

Harry R. Moody, Director of Academic Affairs, AARP

Consciousness-raising at its sharpest and most useful.

David Watts Barton, journalist and playwright

This Chair Rocks confirms our knowledge that emotional well being is abundant in later life, challenges us to face our own internalized ageism, and inspires us to envision a future in which our society is released from age-related prejudice and discrimination. And it’s fun, too!

Geriatric Mental Health Alliance of New York

Holistic, deep, urgent, and also fun.

Lenelle Moise, playwright and performer

All practitioners working with older adults need to be informed about the pernicious influences of ageism. Nobody does this better than Ashton Applewhite. Her thinking is deep, her passion infectious, and her cogent message is spot on: we urgently need to have a national conversation about ageism to raise awareness about it and to stop it.

Risa Breckman, LCSW, Executive Director, NYC Elder Abuse Center

You have found a fantastic mission: raising consciousness that older is far better than the stereotype that enslaves us all.

Jennifer Siebens, producer, CBS News

Ashton Applewhite’s plenary address at the 2013 New York State Adult Abuse Training Institute was compelling and original, and really resonated with our 400 participants. She is an articulate and committed voice for an important cause: challenging the demoralizing shadow that ageism casts across society.

Jean Callahan, Director, Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging

Octogenarians are the fastest-growing segment of our population, yet most Americans are scared stiff at the prospect of growing old. [Applewhite’s work] is a welcome and important tonic.

Dr. Robert Butler, founding director of the National Institute on Aging, coiner of the term “ageism”

We need an anti-ageist movement, for sure. Ashton is already in it.

Margaret Morganroth Gullette, author of Agewise and Aged by Culture

A beautifully delivered, provocative description of how ageism clouds our vision of what life holds in store.

Sabrina Hamilton, director, Ko Festival for the Arts

Ashton Applewhite is on a crusade. A journalist and author, her mission is to raise awareness of ageism in America and get people young and old to join her in speaking out against it.

Senior Planet

Thank you again for your terrific keynote yesterday. I heard from so many attendees that it affected them deeply. You are wise, funny, and provocative – a great combination!

Teresa Bonner, Program Director, Aroha Philanthropies

Upcoming Appearances

Ageism from the Inside Out and the Outside In

Where: virtual

When: September 21, 2021 12:00 pm

More info:

A conversation between Connie Zweig, author of  The Inner Work of Age, and Ashton Applewhite, author of This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism, facilitated by author, ethicist, and gerontologist H. R. (Rick) Moody. Co-hosted by Encore and PSS. Free and open to the public. Register here.

talk, Duxbury, MA Senior Center

Where: virtual

When: September 28, 2021 07:00 pm

More info: Details here.

speaker, Fragomen DE&I event

Where: virtual

When: September 29, 2021 12:00 pm

More info: Guest speaker at Fragomen's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion event. Details pending.

webinar, Older Women's Network NSW

Where: virtual

When: October 1, 2021 08:00 pm

More info: Join Ashton Applewhite in conversation with Australian journalist Caroline Baum on the International Day of Older Persons. Webinar hosted by the Older Women's Network NSW. Free and open to the public. Details here.

keynote speaker, Hot Topics in Aging

Where: virtual

When: November 2, 2021 09:00 am

More info: University of Texas Health Science in Houston Hot Topics in Aging conference. Details pending.

presentation, MAGIC (Minnesota medical directors) conference

Where: virtual

When: November 5, 2021 08:15 am

More info: Minnesota Association of Geriatrics Inspired Clinicians (MAGIC) Annual Conference. Details and registration here.

interview, Upside of Aging event

Where: virtual

When: November 10, 2021 05:00 pm

More info: Featured guest at Palos Verdes Peninsula Village. Details pending.

speaker, Future of Ageing 2021: Reimagining Ageing in a Changing World

Where: Wellcome Collection, London

When: December 2, 2021 09:00 am

More info: Speaker at the International Longevity Centre's annual Future of Ageing conference.Tickets available here.

keynote, Financial Planning Association retreat

Where: Hyatt Regency Lost Pines, 575 Hyatt Lost Pines Rd., Lost Pines, TX 78612

When: April 27, 2022 12:00 am

More info: Details pending here.

 

Past Appearances

Media

Scoot Over podcast, Ageism; It’s About Time

Scoot Over podcast, Ageism; It’s About Time

September 12, 2021

Link here.

Power Purpose Play podcast, On Ageism

Power Purpose Play podcast, On Ageism

August 30, 2021

Link here.

The EndGame podcast

The EndGame podcast

August 28, 2021

Link here.

The Dareful Project podcast

The Dareful Project podcast

August 20, 2021

Link here.

Ashton Applewhite featured on KUCI 88.9fm with host Janeane Bernstein

Ashton Applewhite featured on KUCI 88.9fm with host Janeane Bernstein

August 12, 2021

Link here.

There’s more

Resources



You’ll find many more resources on Old School, a clearinghouse of free and carefully vetted blogs, books, articles, videos, speakers, and other tools (workshops, handouts, curricula etc.) to educate people about ageism and help dismantle it.

Video

On YouTube

Keynote address at the United Nations
6 October 2016

Talk at Future Trends Forum in Madrid
1 December 2017

Talk at the Library of Congress
25 October 2016

What Is Ageism?

Ageism is stereotyping and discrimination on the basis of a person’s age. We experience it any time someone assumes that we’re “too old” for something—a task, a haircut, a relationship—instead of finding out who we are and what we’re capable of. Or “too young;” ageism cuts both ways, although in a youth-obsessed society olders bear the brunt of it.

Like racism and sexism, ageism serves a social and economic purpose: to legitimize and sustain inequalities between groups. It’s not about how we look. It’s about how people in power assign meaning to how we look.

Stereotyping—the assumption that all members of a group are the same—underlies ageism (as it does all “isms”). Stereotyping is always a mistake, but especially when it comes to age, because the older we get, the more different from one another we become.

Attitudes about age—as well as race and gender—start to form in early childhood. Over a lifetime they harden into a set of truths: “just the way it is.” Unless we challenge ageist stereotypes—Old people are incompetent. Wrinkles are ugly. It’s sad to be old—we feel shame and embarrassment instead of taking pride in the accomplishment of aging. That’s internalized ageism.

By blinding us to the benefits of aging and heightening our fears, ageism makes growing older far harder than it has to be. It damages our sense of self, segregates us, diminishes our prospects, and actually shortens lives.

What are the antidotes?

  •    Awareness: the critical starting point is to acknowledge our own prejudices about age and aging. (Download a copy of Who me, Ageist? How to Start a Consciousness Raising Group.) Then we can start to see that “personal problems”—such as not being able to get a job or being belittled or feeling patronized—are actually widely shared social problems that require collective action.
  •    Integration: connect with people of all ages. An equitable society for all ages requires intergenerational collaboration.
  •    Activism: watch for ageist behaviors and attitudes in and around us, challenge them, and create language and models that support every stage of life.

Bio

I didn’t set out to become a writer. I went into publishing because I loved to read and didn’t have any better ideas. I had a weakness for the kind of jokes that make you cringe and guffaw at the same time, my boss kept telling me to write them down, and the collection turned into the best-selling paperback of 1982. I was a clue on “Jeopardy” (“Who is the author of Truly Tasteless Jokes?” Answer: “Blanche Knott.”), and as Blanche made publishing history by occupying four of the fifteen spots on the New York Times bestseller list.

My first serious book, Cutting Loose: Why Women Who End Their Marriages Do So Well, was published by HarperCollins in 1997. Ms. magazine called it “rocket fuel for launching new lives,” and it landed me on Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum enemies list. It also got me invited to join the board of the nascent Council on Contemporary Families, a group of distinguished family scholars. I belonged to the Artist’s Network of Refuse & Resist group that originated the anti-Iraq-invasion slogan and performance pieces titled “Our Grief is Not a Cry for War.” As a contributing editor of IEEE Spectrum magazine, I went to Laos to cover a village getting internet access via a bicycle-powered computer. I was on staff at the American Museum of Natural History for 17 years, where I wrote about everything under the Sun, quitting in 2017 to become a full-time activist.

The catalyst for Cutting Loose was puzzlement: why was our notion of women’s lives after divorce (visualize depressed dame on barstool) so different from the happy and energized reality? A similar question gave rise to This Chair Rocks: why is our view of late life so unrelievedly grim when the lived reality is so different? I began blogging about aging and ageism in 2007 and started speaking on the subject in July, 2012, which is also when I started the Yo, Is This Ageist? blog. During that time I’ve been recognized by the New York Times, National Public Radio, the New Yorker, and the American Society on Aging as an expert on ageism and named as a Fellow by the Knight Foundation, the New York Times, Yale Law School, and the Royal Society for the Arts; I’ve written for Harper’s, the Guardian, and the New York Times, and I speak widely, at venues that have ranged from universities and community centers to the Library of Congress and the United Nations. In 2017 I received a standing ovation for my talk at TED 2017, their mainstage event in Vancouver.

I am a founder of the Old School Anti-Ageism Clearinghouse.

My book, This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism, was published in March, 2019 by Celadon Books, a new division of Macmillan, Inc.

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