Iris Picken, 15, shares her views on ageism. She argues that young or old alike, asking how many birthdays you have had should be stopped. She goes on to argue that our focus on age above wisdom or experience is the source of so many injustices affecting people of all ages.

Let me start off by saying, (in my opinion) ageism isn't the most current or the most discriminatory or even the most important ‘ism’ that exists in the world today. However it is the only ‘ism’ to affect us all, every member of society — you and me included. 

As a society, we are told to, ‘be nice and gentle to your grandpa, he's been through a lot,’ or, ‘speak up she can't hear you.' Now in some cases this is true and with any one who has lived on the earth as long as many grandparents and older people have, they are bound to have been through a lot, and many people loose a part of their hearing when they grow old. However, should we really allow these things to define ‘the older’ generation?' Older people can still be working at the age of 100, you know! And they can be models and doctors, teachers and hairdressers even athletes (if they wanted to). I’d just like to specify that when I say they can, it doesn't mean they do. Many older people want to work and can work, but are pushed away due to their age. In our society we shove them into a box labelled ‘retired' and ‘I’m fine, I have a pension,’ but this is not necessarily the case. 47.2% of people aged 50 and over, are unemployed and have been out of work for a year or longer. If you contrast this with the number of people aged below 50, the unemployment rate is 34.3% (thats a difference of 12.9%) this again shows that many workplaces are afraid or sceptical about hiring someone aged 50 or above. Between 2012 and 2022, an estimated 14.5 million new jobs will be available (this includes people leaving the work force as well as new jobs being created) however only 7 million of theses jobs will be taken by younger people joining the work force, so why can't we start hiring older people in the work place? To me, it seems like a pretty good solution.

"Why does the number we are define us?"

Iris Picken

But what about the younger generation? As I mentioned before, ageism affects us all and as a younger member of society myself, there is nothing more annoying (well there is but for effect, I'm not going to say), then when you are standing in a queue ( which happens to be a lot in the UK) and an adult politely says, 'excuse me', and proceeds to push in front of you in the line — no reason apart from the fact that I'm younger and they think I won't say anything. Most of the time they are right. Another annoying thing that reoccurs quite frequently, is being handed the wrong change or being charged more for a product just because I'm young and again they don't think I will say anything. If I'm alone I won't as I feel outnumbered but if I am with friends I will as I know they will stand up for me. At 15, I am meant to know what I want to do with my life and I have already chosen my GCSE’s. By 16, if I wanted to, I can get married, get a job, pay taxes but I can't vote. I will not be considered an adult even though I can do most things they can. The only thing stopping me from voting and being considered an adult (in general terms I am not considered an adult unless it suits companies as they can raise their prices) is my age, two birthdays that stop me from having any say in who runs our country and what happens in it. How is this fair? If, in the eyes of the law I can pay taxes and if it suits companies for me to be an adult why can't 16 be the new adult? Why does there have to be a set age where you are ‘finally taken seriously’? Why can't we be adults when we feel like we are? Why does the number we are have to define us? So the next time anyone asks how old you are, no matter how old or young you are, say it is none of your business. Treat me as me.

"Older people can still be working at the age of 100, you know!"

Iris Picken

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