Susan Boyle has spawned a flurry of commentary focused on how we stereotype people. How all of us fall victim to the prejudices of ageism or look-ism, and how we should learn, once and for all, not to judge a book by it's cover.
Many social scientists who study the science of stereotyping say there are reasons we quickly size people up based on how they look. Snap judgments about people are crucial to the way we function, they say — even when those judgments are very wrong. SusanFiske, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Princeton says, attractive people are “credited with being socially skilled,and maybe they are, because “if you’re beautiful or handsome, people laugh at your jokes and interact with you in such a way that it’s easy to be socially skilled.”
Age plays a role in forging stereotypes, too, with older people traditionally seen as “harmless and useless,” Professor Fiske said. In fact, she said, research has shown that racial and ethnic stereotypes are easier to change over time than gender and age stereotypes, which are “particularly sticky.
In my humble opinion, the only way to change the aging paradigm is to conquer our fear of aging. The reason we are so critical of people who are fat, unattractive or aging badly, is the fear of becoming one of them. Whether you admit it or not, the fear of aging is present in all of us.
So, the question becomes how to rise above your fear, how to rise above your ego and be happy with the skin you're in. That's what I have researched for my new book, "Don't Ever Call Me Ma'am..The Real Cougar Guide To Life After Forty". The pages are filled with practical how-to's that are designed to tame the fear of aging and replace it with the anticipation and joy of what's coming next.