The Gap Year Podcast

Ashton Applewhite on the Ugly Heart of Ageism and How the Pandemic Has Exposed Our Prejudices

Episode Summary

Debbie talks to activist and author Ashton Applewhite about ageism, why we need to combat it, and how the pandemic has exposed our prejudices.

Episode Notes

This podcast is about making the most of the collective gap year that we’re all living through right now. It's a topic that applies to anyone, of any age, but our focus is on those in midlife and older. 

So today, to kick off 2021, Debbie talks to the perfect guest, Ashton Applewhite. Ashton is an author, speaker and activist on the topic of ageism, which can be defined as discrimination on the basis of age (no matter how old or how young you are). She's  been called a pro-aging radical and the "Malcolm Gladwell of ageism." She and Debbie really get into it in this wide-ranging conversation with Ashton poking and prodding at some of Debbie's assumptions. 

The topic of ageism (or any -ism) brings up a lot of emotion. Fear is generally at the top of the list so they talk about the fear of getting old and what that means in America. They talk about the value of human lives and why older people are often seen as less valuable or even invisible. And they delve into how the pandemic has revealed the deep well of ageism, as well as racism and ableism, in our society. 

They also talk about the irony of being ageist yourself, of unconsciously accepting the notion that old is ugly. (Debbie is 69 and Ashton is 68.) Ashton reminds us that studies like the U-Curve of Happiness show older people are happier. They end the conversation with Ashton offering one thing you can do to combat ageism: become aware of when you’re using the word “old” as a negative vs. “young” as a positive. Think about that while you're listening to this provocative episode.


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- Debbie



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