Ageism means stereotyping and discriminating against individuals or groups on the basis of their age. In many countries people are protected by law against discrimination by age, gender, ethnic background, sexual orientation, disabilities etc. but in practice there are sneaky ways to go around the law. Discrimination at workplace and during hiring process can be difficult to prove.
Global studies show that especially women are facing persistent age discrimination at the workplace as they get older. This Financial Times article from December 2018 quotes Professor Lynda Gratton, co-author of The 100 Year Life: Living and Work in an Age of Longevity, “ageism at work began at 40 for women and 45 for men”.
A wonderful line of spectacular women who I am proud to call my friends, clients and business partners are now +40. For me it feels impossible to imagine that these amazing, witty, multi-talented, highly educated and very experienced women are approaching, or actually already past, a point in their life where they are no longer considered valuable, desirable or worth investing in.
I am sad to acknowledge that ageism is a real problem for women, and men too, in the workplace. Empowering women over (and below!) a certain age, mothers, ethnic minorities is an absolute must in order to prep your business for the approaching new decade. Women have never been more capable than they are today and reducing them to a product with an expiry date is just an utter waste of fabulous resources.
In this article I am giving you some valuable tips on how to take ownership of your own image, no matter what age you are, and helping you to turn your age into an advantage rather than a liability. I want to help you to be the best version of yourself at all ages.
Working on your personal brand
My clients often ask for a fresher, younger and more dynamic look. They have come to the right address because I love to create strong signature looks that work for them: their body shape, their colours, their lifestyle, their style preferences, their values and their budget. It’s kind of an anti-thesis to the current mass consumer hysteria that forces people in a mold where they don’t necessarily feel comfortable in.
I am myself unapologetic about my age, I am turning 43 later this year, and I want to inject that confidence in my clients instead of Botox. You can read more about my age-positive and female-friendly working approach in my blog article FAQ at I on Image.
I always advice to be open and honest about your age, just as you would be honest about your skills. Think about you the courses you have taken, seminars and conferences you have attended, things that interest you so much that you find yourself wanting to read more and more about the topic.
After all, many conclusions about your age can and will be made from your graduation date. One way to go around it is to get a Master’s Degree at a mature age and fool them all to believe that you are a millenial!
These are all great assets to have and you may have not have had them when you were 20. Certainly you didn’t know then all that you know today. Every year you are more wiser and more experienced if just keep yourself up to date on what’s going on in the world and in your industry.
You need to stay curious and keep that spark going on. Strive to educate yourself regularly by taking courses and attending workshops. Try to meet new people outside of your immediate circles by attending networking events and meetups. As a result of your continuously increasing experience and life-long learning you are an improved version of yourself today. This is the image you want to show to the outer world regardless of your age.
Working on your digital presence
Your digital presence consists of all your social media profiles, your website, all photos of you that have ever been posted online and everything you have ever written or that has been written about you on online.
Managing it all in a cool way can feel like a daunting task but luckily we have been blessed with a myriad of easy-to-use tools that put us right on the edge of the latest technology without actually being incredibly tech savvy. Use them in your advantage and take the best of all features that your relevant social media platforms offer, many of them for free or low cost
Have a professional business head shot taken and add a couple of items in your wardrobe that are a logical part of your narrative. Read more ideas on how to improve your digital presence in this blog article.
Working on your personal style
Regarding your personal style, allow yourself to live a little of your dreams. If you love a certain style or item, go for it. Life is too short to think if you can pull it off. If it makes you heart skip a beat, it’s probably the right item for you.
I give advice regarding the most common body shapes and very often I notice that women already know what suits them. They just unsure on how to incorporate it in their every day life.
Many also ask if they can wear certain items past a certain age.
We wear what we love to wear. Increased confidence is one of the best things about aging and it’s the key to your natural charisma. This is what people will initially find the most fascinating about you. Your age is really just a number, and the world is about to see what you are made of!
Educating others about ageism
I would also like to encourage you to educate the people around you to wake up and see what is going on. Help your friends and peers to learn about their rights. The more people know about their rights, the better. Stand up for those who are being discriminated. Be a catalyst for change in your organization.
Educate also people above you to learn the value of a diverse workplace. Everyone will profit of this in a long run, including yourself. Reward companies that are actively driving change by recruiting people of all ages. Give positive feedback and share their success stories in social media. One easy way to start is to share this article and see what kind of discussion it will spark.
Read some other really great ideas on keeping your personal brand up to date and challenging the status quo in this Forbes article: “Age Discrimination And Women In The Workplace: How To Avoid Getting Pushed Out”
And finally repeat after me: Age is just a number. What you make out of it counts.
This article was originally published on 20th March 2016 here on I on Image’s blog and updated on 6th February 2019.
Your image consultant with an eye for detail