A lot of people remarked on Helen Mirren’s plunging gown at the Golden Globes last week; a lot of people said she looked really great. She must have been hearing that all night — and she knew what people meant: “for your age.”
So when she stood in front of the microphone with actor Gerard Butler, 49, and he said, “You look absolutely lovely tonight, Helen” (looking her up and down), Mirren responded, “Thank you. So do you — for your age.”
It was an elegant correction of incipient and unintended ageism — more elegant even than Mirren’s gown. And it made us think: What are some pointed but polite corrections for other phrases that people use when they think they’re being nice — when they don’t realize that by implying, say, that older people usually don’t look lovely, they’re being ageist?
We came up with a few (and borrowed a couple). But we need your help in coming up with more.
Here are ours:
“Hi there, Pops!”
“Hi there, Sonny!”
“Your foot’s hurting? Well, you are 72…”
“My other foot must be younger!”
“You look so much younger” (than your age)
“This is what someone my age looks like.” (Thanks to our Twitter follower Jacqueline Gikow for this one.)
“You’re so young at heart!”
“You mean my heart hasn’t kept up with my body?”
“You’re still so youthful!”
“So are you!”
“You’re so cool!”
“You’re pretty cool for your age, too.”
Your turn: How would you respond to the following?
“I’d never guess you were 65!”
“You’re so cute!”
“Oh, you’re not old!”
“You’re not a bit like my grandmother!
“Can I help you, young lady?”
How often have you heard — or offered — compliments like these. How do they make you feel? And how would you respond?