, ,

TBI Blogs: From Sports to Fashion – How India’s Elderly Are Fighting Ageism & Challenging Stereotypes

Ageism is prejudice or discrimination on the grounds of a person’s age, a pervasive problem in Indian society. These role models are fighting this prejudice through truly inspirational feats and achievements.

Ageism is widespread in every walk of life, be it the entertainment industry, fashion industry, travel and tourism, healthcare and insurance, or sports. It often becomes impossible for older actors and models to follow their passion in acting or modeling and avail it as a fruitful career choice. Retired senior citizens, especially those with a lower retirement benefits package, often face difficulty securing loans and insurance policies that address their specific needs.

A large segment of the travel and hospitality sector too seems biased towards targeting younger generations in their advertising and marketing initiatives, with most travel ads in India implying that only young people travel.

It’s a common notion that expects most middle-class elders to go only on a pilgrimage, not on a vacation to Europe. However, KR Vijayan and his wife Mohana have proven all such stereotypes wrong. Vijayan and Mohana, who’ve been with each other for more than 40 years and own a tea stall in Kerala, have visited 17 countries so far. When their story came to light, social media went abuzz, and strangers offered them accommodation and other travel assistance for their dream trip to the US. Watch their incredible story here:

Along with the travel industry, the hospitality industry too has quite a few stereotypes to overcome. Not many restaurants are in the habit of using promotional material aimed at attracting senior citizens as well. Why? Because they usually have limited resources after retirement, and don’t spend as lavishly as younger professionals with disposable income. Of course, that’s not entirely true either. Sure, quite a few retirees withdraw from an active social life post-retirement, but sweeping generalizations in that regard would be highly unfair.

Senior citizens appreciate a good bargain on a dinner with their friends and family like everyone else, and offering customized discounts and special offers for them could open up a whole new segment for the hospitality industry altogether.

In this regard, initiatives like HelpAge India’s AdvantAge benefit card for senior citizens offers special benefits and discounts for senior citizens at various retail establishments across the country.

Fauja Singh, 106 years old and celebrated Indian marathoner.

In the sports arena too, it wasn’t until Fauja Singh amassed eight world records in a single day that some people realized that it can actually be done by someone at the age of 100. Adidas signed him up for its ‘Nothing Is Impossible’ advertising campaign soon after. Nestle signed him too for the #100andRunning campaign. It’s not only Fauja Singh who continues to amass laurels in sports and keeps breaking stereotypes. Mann Kaur, the 101-year-old winner of the World Master’s Games in London this year is yet another story of grit over age that clearly shows that ageism is something that the world does not need.

Mann Kaur, 101, Winner of 2017 World Master’s Games in London.

The fashion and entertainment industries have witnessed a few instances where insiders have openly flayed the rampant practice of ageism, and some professionals, if not many, have taken the first steps towards removing this wall of discrimination. During the Amazon India Fashion Week, 2017 held in New Delhi, designer Madhu Jain showcased her new collection with indigenous designs of handwoven textiles. But her show wasn’t just about the clothes this time. Walking the ramp was a diverse group of models from different age groups, some of them retired and well over the age of 50.

The models sashayed down the ramp in handwoven saris, suits, and long skirts in eclectic shades, triumphantly telling the world that they have a lot of glamour and style left in them.

Role models in the fashion industry: Models lend their charm and elegance to handwoven fabrics collection at AIFW-2017.

However, even though the seeds of change have been sown, the road to change is long and arduous in the face of ingrained conventionalism that prevents people from shedding the stereotypes associated with old age. The older generation has every right to follow their heart, and no one has the right to mock them for it.

To mark World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, 2017, HelpAge India will be organizing a Twitter chat between 2-4 PM. Join us with the hashtag #StopAgeism and become a part of the change where ageism has no place in society, and the elderly can live a deservingly dignified life.

Like this story? Or have something to share? Write to us: contact@thebetterindia.com, or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.
NEW: Click here to get positive news on WhatsApp!

Written by HelpAge India

identicon

HelpAge IndiaFighting isolation, poverty, neglect in lives of India’s elderly.