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Australian Television Presenter Melissa Doyle Is Fighting Back Against Ageism

"Let’s redirect our rage away from the mirror and towards ageism.”

We start ageing from the minute we are born. The more time we have, the more we learn, celebrate, love and experience. That’s what makes ageing so glorious. So why do we fear it so much?

Ageism has such an insidious impact on the lives of older women. Just look at the multibillion-dollar anti-ageing industry that sells us the idea that ageing is something to hide or rectify, and the fact that women over 55 are the fastest growing cohort of homeless people in Australia.

Thankfully, the chorus of those who are pro-ageing is getting louder. We are seeing more and more women, from model Paulina Porizkova to actor Naomi Watts, using their platforms to decry the anti-ageing narrative.

As a society, it’s important that we identify, protect and create more opportunities for women to age into the role of elders in our communities, families, workplaces and government institutions, so that we ensure women aren’t unfairly aged out of these spaces. To do this, we need to shift our rage towards the right things.

Mel Doyle
Author and TV presenter, Melissa Doyle. (Credit: Getty.)

If the external changes that ageing brings are something you want to do something about, go right ahead. Let her among us who has never looked in the mirror and thought “Wait a second” cast the first stone. But let’s not get bogged down in the “war” on wrinkles and grey hair. That’s where the people and institutions that profit off anti-ageing want us to focus and spend our time and resources.

Instead, let’s redirect our rage away from the mirror and towards the wage gap, towards ageism in the workplace and towards the persistent blind spots in medical research when it comes to women’s health. Nobody is coming to save us ladies, we have to do it ourselves.

Whether or not a woman has a safe, stable and supported older life is directly related to whether she was safe, stable and supported in her younger life. There are actions we can take when we’re younger to change this trajectory: from learning financial literacy to knowing your rights in the workplace.

If you’re a late bloomer to all this ageism nonsense … you’re not too old and it’s not too late for you to impact the quality of your ageing experience. The first step is to take a deep breath and initiate the hard, uncomfortable conversations – from retirement to mortality, relationships to intimacy, finances to housing security – that must be had if we’re going to make lasting positive changes, not just for ourselves but for generations to come.

How to Age Against the Machine  by Melissa Doyle and Naima Brown (Hardie Grant, $45) is out now.

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