Taking on the Blogging Bullies—Ageism, Fear & Misbehaving "Old" Women
Writers have a LOT of power. A LOT. Art often not only defines and reflects a society as it currently exists, but it can be a compass for the direction that culture is heading. This said, there was a blogger who sent me into the STRATOSPHERE on Saturday and had me sharpening kitchen knives. As a writer, I strongly believe in giving credit for the writing, but this is a sticky situation.
I won’t mention her name or her blog for a number of reasons.
First, she doesn’t deserve the traffic I might send her. Being a jerk shouldn’t be rewarded and bad attention is still attention. Secondly, I couldn’t trust myself not to be a troll, so I won’t subject her to comments she deserves because, since I’m older?
I’m classier than that 🙂
Since she’s simple enough to locate on Twitter, FB and the blogosphere, I’m not going to set her up as the easy target she’s already made herself.
Women—REAL women—watch out for one another (even the twerps).
Yet, the overall tone of the blog bothered me DEEPLY and though this “writing” was meant to simply be a fashion blog, it said way more about our culture than simply what not to wear.
How It Happened
In between writing or cooking or cleaning I click on posts. It’s part of my job as an author. I’m a woman and admit to my own level of vanity, so when I saw a post about X number of things NO WOMAN over 30 should EVER wear, I was curious (being almost 41).
I thought my head would EXPLODE, not because of the list, which I can always disagree with. Rather, it was the shi#!$ commentary, the ageism and the immeasurable level of disrespect that followed the “tips.” Here are a few of my “favorites.”
Graphic Tees—You are what we call a “grown-up.” Now, dress like it, please.
Reply: You are what we call a snot. Stop speaking before you get hurt.
Non-Matching Socks—By Age 30, you should be able to keep better track of your socks.
Reply: Talk to me after you’ve had some kids.
Hoop Earrings—Only girls in high school can pull off hoop earrings.
Reply: Did you ask the Latinas about this? You might have a bounty on your head. Might watch your six.
Old Sneakers—Grown women should not be seen in rundown tennis shoes. If you can’t afford a new pair, then it’s time to reevaluate life as a 30 year old.
Reply: Old sneakers are great for throwing.
Glittery Eyeshadow—Save the glitter for things that should actually sparkle.
Reply: We are NEVER too old to sparkle 😛 . Try a good attitude, a smile and being positive. Glitter simply enhances these attributes you clearly do not yet possess.
Abercrombie & Fitch—Do thirty-year-olds even FIT in A&F clothes?
Reply: I will CUT you O_o …
Anyway, as y’all can imagine, this generated QUITE the heated discussion on my Facebook page. This blogger should have titled the post “How to Piss Off Women Globally 24 Ways.” Yet, among the comments a few of my friends were well-meaning.
They’d say, “Pthththt, ignore it.” “A blogger shouldn’t dictate how you feel about yourself.” “Just move on. She’s a b%$#@.”
And there are plenty of times I ignore asshattery and DO move on. If I ranted against everything that rubbed me the wrong way, I’d be in a coma by lunch. Yet, this blog DID land in my crosshairs because it is the definition of evil. It’s misogyny, ageism, narcissism, and BULLYING wrapped in one ad-crammed package.
By the time I finished reading the tips, I was curious if the blogger would find THIS as an acceptable gift for female 30th birthdays….
A Little Respect, Please?
When one looks deeper into this “innocent” blog, it becomes clear it is FAR from innocent. Here is a girl not just giving tips to her elders, but also passing judgement in a highly disrespectful manner.
I am about to be 41, a mother and wife, a C.E.O., have a degree and was living in a Palestinian refugee camp in Syria when she was fighting acne in high school. I’ve been a writer longer than she has had a driver’s license. I feel I’ve earned a measure of respect.
She obviously mistook me for her peer. This is the narcissism I’m referring to.
And we are seeing A LOT of this these days. Well-meaning parents wanting their kids to be their “friends” forgot to add that yes, we are friends, but we are NOT equals.
Unfortunately, this causes a lot of problems. First, those younger than us can endure needless suffering because they refuse to believe older people might actually have some sound advice.
In the workplace, many younger people are doing poorly because they simply won’t follow simple instructions without a detailed explanation of WHY from a highly vexed superior.
Because I am the boss. Just DO it.
This can actually be very dangerous. I’m part of the military, medical, and law enforcement culture. There are far too many young nurses, recruits and cadets who are simply not teachable.
They ask WHY, WHY, WHY with no thought of who is standing there. This insubordinate attitude undermines the authority of the person in charge and, frankly, in these jobs? Failure to listen and take instructions is a good way to die (or have someone else die).
In Corporate America? They just fire said snit and said snit ends up working as a barista clueless why he/she can’t get ahead despite that expensive degree.
This failure to respectfully communicate also harms us older folks. Instead of being able to harness what youth DOES bring to the table—boundless energy, creativity, a fresh perspective—we are too busy thinking if their lifeless body will fit in the office’s recycle bin.
She asked WHY one too many times and I SNAPPED!
Yes, something as small as a “fashion blog” can perpetuate eventual ruination. How? Because posts like these are “small” people say. “Oh just ignore it.” But these images are everywhere, like army ants. Small destructive buggers. Alone? No big deal. But millions of them left ignored?
Our society is in a crisis. We don’t value older people and older workers the way we should. I once worked for a company who had never once had a person make it to retirement. Employees hit a certain age and were badgered, bullied and written up until they quit or could be “legally” fired—then replaced with two college graduates who ask WHY all the time.
There was so little appreciation for the wealth of knowledge, instinct, and maturity that older worker brought to the table. Yet, how much of our entertainment culture is fueling this attitude?
If I don’t want to buy Cosmo, and maybe read a magazine with women my age in it? The pictures are all of food and housecleaning devices.
The Double-Bind Age & Invisibility
Women over a certain age seem to vanish off the screen, or are recast as a mom or grandmother. Sean Connery can be a love interest in his late 60s, but a woman? EW!
There are 20 year-olds advertising wrinkle creams and teenagers modeling underwear for women. The fashion industry has been far too silent for the largest consumer demographic with the most disposable income.
This particular “fashion blog” did a great job of
pissing me off but what are the affordable alternatives? She took great pains to knife me over and over, but where is something helpful I can use?
Okay, no eyeshadow or glitter. Why? And, HELLOO? What’s better than eyeshadow and glitter?
NOTHING. The answer is NOTHING. Unless Predator Drones and trebuchets are options and then I will have to think on that.
Sure, if I could afford Chanel, Gucci or even Ann Taylor, I might be able to “age gracefully” (so let’s add in classism to our list). But in a regular store? Women over 30 have four choices—Tragic Pole Dancer, Government Employee, People of Walmart, Church Choir Director.
Thus, many women find we can’t win for losing. If we are over 30, 40, 50 or older and wear glitter and sparkles and makeup, we are being gross and acting like a tween. Yet, if we bow to the “be plain and blend into the wall” then we get, “Well, older women just aren’t considered attractive because they are lazy and don’t try.”
This blogger’s comment about worn out sneakers?
Grown women should not be seen in rundown tennis shoes. If you can’t afford a new pair, then it’s time to reevaluate life as a 30 year old.
When I was 30 all my clothes came from Goodwill and my sneakers were DEFINITELY rundown. Why? First, I decided to chuck the well-paying sales job I loathed to become a writer. Secondly, I was taking care of an ill mother, and watching my nephews (Age 5 and 1) so my brother and sister-in-law could finish college.
I sacrificed something as superficial as “fashion” and now mom is healthy and both brother and SIL have degrees and own their own companies.
And frankly, if a person is going to judge me and not be my friend because of my shoes? Probably not a person I would want to hang out with anyway. If a woman is going to ignore helping others because then she can’t wear the latest trends? DEFINITELY a person I don’t want to hang out with.
Oh, and this adorable commentary….
NO Abercrombie & Fitch
“Do thirty-year-olds even FIT in A&F clothes?”
So Over 30=OBESE. Really? I refuse to wear A&F because I am old/mature enough to recognize an assclown company and refuse to wear overpriced crappy clothes to advertise for a company I loathe with the power of a thousand suns.
And yes, I have been plus-size, too. So PTHTHTHTHTHTH.
Call Bullying What It IS
I think the largest reason this fashion post lit my fire is that I’ve been a target of bullies my entire life. When I was a kid, it was because my clothes came from Kmart or I had the wrong shoes or my thighs were big (was in karate and ballet). I didn’t have the right hair, car, backpack or whatever and we think we will reach an age where this petty crap is behind us.
Women? We have to stick together. We live longer, are now in positions of power and we are an economic force. We have the ability to make fashion and society to hear our voice. WE ARE NOT ALONE and WE ARE NOT DEAD.
This blog was sheer meanness and bullying wrapped in a title of “Fashion Advice.” We shouldn’t “ignore” it or move on. We confront.
We cannot change what we will not challenge.
We need the guys to help out, too. We are all facing this nonsense. Men, I know you guys have your own challenges and I could write a WHOLE other blog about that. Apparently, men over 50 only want to go sailing alone or ride a motorcycle with other dudes after taking Viagra?
Since I believe that darkness can only be countered with light, I started a Pinterest board “Old” Women Dressing and Behaving “Badly” and invited some of my FB gals to join, follow, and IDEALLY, add your pics.
Though you can see most of them (I pilfered a few from friends for this post) and add more of your own images to the board, I figured I’d showcase some of our “older” beauties here breaking and reinventing ALL the rules….
We DEFINE Beauty
Never let anyone tell you not to sparkle. All of you are precious, beautiful and fabulous in your way. There has been and only EVER WILL be ONE of you in all of human history. Claim your page. And I think there are countless men on our side who are just as ticked as we are, who enjoy a more mature woman or a lady with some sass, curves and wit (and they are wondering who keeps HIDING us).
As writers and artists we hold the power to change the world and life is a LOT more fun if we are there to love and encourage and fill the world with smart@SS t-shirts.
What are your thoughts? I hope this is leaving you feeling a bit more inspired. Okay, a LOT more inspired. We are living much longer lives, so are you ready to claim the rest of it? Seems sad that some think we only have a good 15 years out of 80 that we are worthwhile 😛 . Do you refuse to give up your sparkles, Converse tennis shoes and graphic tees?
Do you think we ignore too much? We pass over these “small” things and they just grow BIGGER? Do you think a lot of this fashion or health/fitness advice is borderline (or even outright) bullying? What is your favorite feature? Your favorite “verboten” fashion? I collect insane t-shirts 😀 .
And MEN! We love you and need you on our team! What are some of the BS things you deal with as you age? What commercials make you want to buy a reloading machine? Are you tired of all the weird E.D. ads, too?
****Let me know if you want to join our board in the comments. It helps if you have a Pinterest account.
I love hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of FEBRUARY, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
***Will announce January’s winners next post.
For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook.