Get Real: A look at ageism

This is not a DST story.  It is a turn back time story though. Sort of.

A story came to my attention last week that I just couldn’t ignore.  Along the lines of the breastfed six-year old post I did a few years ago, or the posts I’ve done more recently on fake news — what to believe — it seemed well-suited to And So It Goes.

A 69-year-old Dutchman, Emile Ratelband, felt his age was working against him on an online dating site. So, he went to court there in The Netherlands to have his age lowered by 20 years, legally.

Imagine that!  I didn’t know about his case while it was going on last year, nor did I know how the court ruled until I was writing this post and looked it up (patience; we’ll get there).

I first heard of it through Ronni Bennet’s long time blog, Time Goes By (What it’s really like to get old).  Ronni had linked to an article on by Joona Räsänen, a bioethicist at the University of Oslo in Norway, entitled Why older people should be allowed to change their legal age. The title pretty much sums up his feelings.

I won’t repeat his argument here. I’ve linked to it if you are interested. He presents a ______ (fill in your own adjective) argument.  Suggestions include compelling, absurd, legitimate, provocative, ridiculous. Or, you can suggest your own.

Ageism is, of course, a serious issue. It’s not only unfair, it’s often unconscious as this Dilbert comic shows us.

Thanks to The Vesume Group for the comic image

Now, please don’t misunderstand me. There are many people around the world as well as right here in the USA, who turn to the courts for protection from societal unfairness. They want to live authentically, openly, freely. I heartily support them.

This case from the now 70-year-old Dutchman is not that. His is a case of someone who wants to lie legally. He was born 70 years ago; he wants to claim to be 50. Beyond the dramatic moment when his date finds out the truth, I got thinking about what I might change about myself, legally, if I could.

I mean we all like to profess an acceptance of ourselves as we “truly” are — our authentic self. And most of us are fortunate enough to be born into a community that accepts us as we are. But, if given the opportunity to change some part of the hand your were dealt, would you take it?

I’d like to be taller. Taller people are taken more seriously, you know; they have more stature.

I enjoyed that, too.

Three inches would be enough, thank you.  I’d like to be able to reach the pie plates I store in the cabinet over the microwave without having to ask Woody to get them down for me. Or having to go into the other room and get the step stool when he’s not home. Yes, if I were three inches taller, my life would be easier, as would Woody’s. At least it would once or twice a year when I actually bake a pie.

One of the many great aspects of my living in Kazakhstan was that, for a time, my 64″ made me a tall person, which I enjoyed. I’ll be 64″ no matter what country I stand in, and poor Emile Ratelband will be 70 years old, no matter what dating site he frequents (this year, anyway). Here’s the BBC  coverage of the court’s finding.

How about you? What would you change (legally) if you could? Has ageism been an issue for you at any point? Are you living your authentic self? 



16 Responses

  1. Tim Fearnside
    | Reply

    Hmm… I think I’d like to legally change my “looks” to better reflect my inner Brad Pitt. (As a lawyer, I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of this sooner)!

  2. Darlene Foster
    | Reply

    That was a funny story and I am not surprised the court overruled it. I would also like to be taller. As someone who barely grazes 5 feet, a few more inches would be great. I have never suffered from ageism except maybe in my own mind.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Barely five feet! Wow, I must hang out with you more often. 🙂 The world is built for people 5’5″ and over I think. Though not too far over.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Get Real: A look at ageismMy Profile

  3. Clive Pilcher
    | Reply

    I read about that story when it was first reported. The word that came to mind was one we use here but I don’t think it’s in usage elsewhere: ‘plonker.’ Either that or ‘numpty’ 😉

    Like you, I’d like to be taller but as I grow older I appear to be getting shorter. How unfair life can be!
    Clive Pilcher recently posted…Time: A ReflectionMy Profile

  4. Marian Beaman
    | Reply

    Humorous story! I have a friend on a dating site, who stated the age of men she was looking for. Lo, and behold, they were mostly on walkers or just getting out of rehab. She’s decided to lower her target age now. (Not holding my breath for good results!)

    I’ll go with Mr. Rogers: “I like you just the way you are!”
    Marian Beaman recently posted…Playing Word Games with Marian and JillMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      While I am often taken for someone ten years or so younger than I am, I can’t imagine even thinking of changing my age. Instead, I’d love to work to convince others not to stereotype us oldies. Now, there’s a project. Sigh.

      I’ve actually got a few success stories among my friends of various online dating sites. But I do think the secret is being honest and upfront; that way you get the right match.

      Thanks for weighing in.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Get Real: A look at ageismMy Profile

  5. Ally Bean
    | Reply

    I live my authentic self but I do so with reserve. If I could change one thing about myself it wouldn’t be my age or looks or name, it’d be my reluctance to ever promote myself. In that respect my idea of how to live is out of step with the times in which I live. “If you got it, flaunt it” is the zeitgeist of this age.
    Ally Bean recently posted…The One About My New Computer & A Snarky Thought For The DayMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      I know what you mean, Ally. But I think that’s one reason I am so smitten with your blog. You write in an authentic — and funny — voice; hard to find these days. The best advertising is word of mouth, I think. Please keep doing what you are doing. It’s a great combination.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Get Real: A look at ageismMy Profile

  6. Terri Lyon
    | Reply

    People are interesting creatures, and I especially love the quirky ones.
    Terri Lyon recently posted…How To Create A Vision Of A Joyful LifeMy Profile

  7. Laurie Buchanan
    | Reply

    Janet — A man went to court to legally change his age to be twenty years younger? Well, I’ll be darned!

    I’m good with being 5 feet 8 inches tall.
    I’m good with being 61 years old (but check back with me in 20 years).

    If I could legally change anything? I’d like the speeding laws to NOT apply to ME.
    Laurie Buchanan recently posted…HangryMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Here here! I’ll join you. Did you know I once had “speeding tickets” as a line item in my budget? But I was taller then; as I get shorter, I seem to be getting slower too.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Get Real: A look at ageismMy Profile

  8. Lea
    | Reply

    I laughed when you said you would change to taller. Just this morning I was trying to reach something in the closet and I was saying that everything is made for taller people, and I wished I was a bit taller.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Thanks so much; always good to meet a fellow struggler. On the upside, we get our stretching exercises in frequently.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Get Real: A look at ageismMy Profile

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a blog you'd like to share? I use CommentLuv Click here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.