So You’re Getting Old, What’s the Big Deal?

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As we go through life every day, we find ourselves grappling with a lot of worries. It’s almost like there’s a never-ending supply of things to worry about. On Monday, it could be how to wrap up a work project that lingered from the previous week. Tuesday, it is how to beat the traffic so your child gets to school on time. On Wednesday, the familiar stress of how to charge your laptop and phone – because, you know, NEPA – gives you a headache. It’s Thursday, and the fish in your freezer is beginning to go bad because, NEPA again. Friday, your aunt called, asking, “When are you getting married? You’re not getting any younger.” Saturday, the realisation that the laundry won’t take care of itself hits you. And you wish you could attend that owambe your friend invited you to, but you’re just too tayad. And when you think you’re in the clear on Sunday, you decide to take a break and press your phone. While at that, you find yourself in the middle of a conversation on Twitter, and gbam! someone calls you old. 

You tweet back, ‘I’m not old, I’m only 32!’ but then the troll zooms into one of your pictures, the one you took some time ago and you love for its natural look, and says, ‘Isn’t that a wrinkle on your face? Go sit your 30+ old ass down.’ Or you’re casually making a tweet and someone calls you an “old hoe”. Heaven forbid that you end your tweet with ‘these young people sef’, you will know that day that you and Methuselah are age mates. Or you decide to be a part of a conversation about why older men shouldn’t marry teenage girls and people say you’re starting because “you’re a bitter old woman and misery loves company”. Or you even post a photo on a random Sunday afternoon, and someone calls you a menopausal fool. See? Just like that! Now your entire week is ruined. 

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Of the many stereotypes that exist in the world – gender, racial/ethnic, socioeconomic or religious – age-based stereotype takes the cake. Because, think about it, every second, minute, hour or day that passes get us closer to that wrinkle and gray-haired-filled life. 

Ageing is an inevitable part of life; it’s like a rite of passage every person must go through. But according to society’s timeline, ageing is not a cool thing to aspire to. Everywhere you turn, there’s ageism and age-shaming. It’s in the workplace, on the runway, on the streets, in family gatherings, and most prevalently on the internet. Women happen to be on the receiving end of the brunt the most, with insults such as ‘hag’ or ‘menopausal’ hurled at them at every chance. 

Despite ageing being one of the most natural human experiences, one begins to wonder why it is discussed on social media with such repugnance, and trust me, there’s no logical reason to explain how we got here, especially seeing how we’re not on this earth to live forever.

Why do people engage in age-shaming? If I knew the answer to this question, I’d probably not be writing this.  Could it be due to societal pressures that prioritise and favour youthfulness, and associate ageing with negative limitations? We see it every day – men threatening women with marrying younger women with the hope that the older ones bite their fingers in anguish and regret; organisations weary of older candidates and assuming younger ones have better ability to do the job; the beauty industry coming up with all sorts of products to keep you looking young as you age. It is almost as if people feel sorry for themselves as they grow older, eventually doing all sort of things to catch up with impossible standards of appearance and beauty? Or could it be that age-shamers feel insecure, and threatened by older people? You never can tell.

All I can tell you, right now is that there’s beauty in ageing. There’s the beauty of time found in your 30s, 40s, 50s – whatever age you are. With each passing year, a new chapter unfolds, exposing us to life’s beauty and offering new insights to embrace life more fully. The experiences we encounter leave imprints on our appearance, and every part of our body tells our story of growth. This is a beautiful thing, and there’s no shame in that.  

If society is hell-bent on putting people down because of their age, you and I can choose to be different. If you are a young lady dunking on older women, I have great news for you: in a few years’ time, you’re going to be one of those women you called ‘menopausal baddie’ in a bid to insult them. Or those men you’ve been calling Methuselah on Twitter thinking it makes you a cool dude? You’re gonna be them in a few years. And time flies – swiftly too. 

If you are at the receiving end of age-shaming, particularly on social media, you should never let a stranger who derives joy in being a troll on the internet have a say about you because of a number. So you’re getting old, kini big deal? There are better years ahead of us all filled with all-around growth, much love and self-assurance and confidence, and financial stability (can somebody say amen?). There’s absolutely no shame in getting older, so bask in it and have fun as you grow. 



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