Our appearance. It’s how others judge us. More to the point… oft summarily prejudge us. To say the least… exhibiting THAT type of behavior is NOT attractive. To say more… real life experiments have exposed this oft-ugly side of human nature.
In late 1959… author John Howard Griffin, managed to successfully pass himself off as a black man after first taking massive, oral doses of the anti-vitiligo drug, methoxsalen, and spending 15 hours per day under an ultraviolet lamp.
Then, for six weeks, he proceeded to travel throughout America’s, racially segregated Deep South by Greyhound Bus and by hitchhiking. To summarize the story, which he related in his book Black Like Me, he had faced down the typical, brutal bigotry, which the region of that era had been known for.
More recently… actress Roxanne Pallett had successfully passed herself off as a ninety-year-old woman, courtesy of a four-hour process where she was fitted with Hollywood type prosthetics and had applications of special makeup.
She then faced the public… and long story short… had experienced the ill-mannered indifference and ill-tempered impatience of those younger than she.
Folks, I’ve seen this ageism, first hand, too, in the grocery store checkout lane. I watched a woman, ahead of me in line, slowly writing out a check… her noticeably arthritic fingers having a tough time holding onto her pen. Then, after she had left, as the younger cashier rang up my purchase, she rolled her eyes, shook her head and said, with unforgiving, under her breath scorn, “Some people…” She never finished her sentence… not that I had ever really wanted her to do so.
I, too, have undergone my own transformation. True, mine merely involves my normal, day-to-day physiology / aging process doing its thing. But… I can certainly attest to much of what Pallett had related re her own experiences.
Shopping while gray ~ I’ve oft experienced store clerks’ “special treatment” / their “looking right through me” stares. I’ve practically heard their internal voices, bouncing about within their cranial abyss, saying…”Eh… who needs him?” OR “He’s just an old geezer who’s gonna kick off any day now!” OR “He probably doesn’t have a lot of money, anyway, so who needs him?” OR “Ignore it and maybe it’ll go away!”
It was only after I grew my hair to shoulder length that, all the sudden, I started finding the store clerks rushing up to me to cautiously, nervously “offer” me their “help.” Truth is, they’re wrongfully suspecting that I’m going to rip them off (read more here).
Imagine how demoralizing and frustrating it is to be perceived to be someone you know you are not. Perhaps, you don’t need to imagine?
Racism and ageism wrongfully punish us for our physical appearance… for traits that (unless one is part of some sociological experiment), one has no control over. Melanin content is in our DNA. So is how soon and how fast the wrinkles and other signs of aging manifest themselves.
Superficial characteristics have absolutely nothing to do with who we actually are… who we oft are wrongfully being judged to be.
Those who think small have yet to realize that we all begin aging on the day we are born… that, someday, they, too, will feel the heartbreak of being unjustly perceived as “not-valid” human beings.