WATCH: Ashton Applewhite at TED17

They’d already listened to more than 80 talks over four days—talks that in various ways offered big, inspiring ideas in response to the theme “The Future You.”

But at the end of yet another day at the 2017 TED conference in Vancouver last April, the crowd rose and roared as activist and author Ashton Applewhite wrapped up her talk “Let’s End Ageism” with a call for an anti-ageism movement to address what she defines as a global human rights issue.

“I’m in. And I hope you’ll join me!”

The audience was in. After all, as Applewhite pointed out, everyone will be old one day.

TED has now released the video of  “Let’s End Ageism.” Watch, then share it widely. Applewhite has made a compelling case for collective advocacy, and all you have to do is hit a button to spread her message.

What impact does Applewhite hope for from her TED talk now that it’s online? “I hope that if you’re struck by something in the talk, you’ll take that new way of thinking or behaving out into the world,” she told us. “I hope you’ll urge everyone you know to watch the talk so more people bring new ways of thinking and behaving into the world.”

In a Nutshell

In “The End of Ageism,” Applewhite delivers 11 sharp, funny and keenly insightful minutes about our culture’s deepening predicament—our fear of growing old and the aberrations associated with that fear, including everything from self-loathing to discrimination in the workplace, an entire demographic robbed of purpose, and poverty.

And she offers a challenge. With the longevity revolution underway and the balance of older to younger shifting across the world, Applewhite told the crowd, we can’t afford to not tackle ageism head on through collective advocacy. That means starting with our own biases and then challenging those of others.

Here are some of Applewhite’s most shareable quotes:

“It’s embarrassing to be called out as older until we quit being embarrassed about it.”

“Senior Moment quips? I stopped making them when it dawned on me that when I lost the car keys in high school, I didn’t call it a “junior moment.”

“We tend to think of everyone in a retirement home as the same age—old—when they can span four decades. Can you imagine thinking that way about a group of people between the ages of 20 and 60?”

“It is not having a vagina that makes life hard for women—it’s sexism… And it’s not the passage of time that makes getting older so much harder than it has to be. It is ageism.”

“Have you ever grumbled about ‘entitled Millennials’ or rejected an outfit because it’s not age-appropriate? These behaviors are ageist. We all do them, and we can’t challenge bias unless we’re aware of it.”

“I stopped blaming my sore knee on being 64. My other knee doesn’t hurt and it’s just as old.”

“All prejudice relies on ‘othering.’ The strange thing about ageism is, that ‘other’ is us.”

And for those who think we can’t make a difference:

“Look at gender: We used to think of it as a binary, male or female, and now we understand it’s a spectrum. It is high time to ditch the old-young binary, too.”

Let’s ditch—collectively!

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3 comments
  • Geraldine
    REPLY

    Very good article, yes everyone will get old, I mean everyone.
    I found that my attention span is better than the younger.
    I have less complaints, I am not easily distracted.
    It’s only age,
    wisdom if you lived right.
    Keep the mind active etc. I am in much better condition mentally land emotionally than I was when young.
    I have no use of numbing through hoops to fit in.
    I am am asset anywhere I go, unless you’re one of those people or places that accepts land use ageism.
    Also I am fit not to stay young but to stay fit which starts in the mind.

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