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October 30, 2019

Let’s talk about ageism, baby

“Let’s talk about ageism, baby
Let’s talk about you and me
Let’s talk about all the good things
And the bad things that may be”

You might recognise these words from that ear-catching song by Salt ‘N’ Pepa in 1990. We have used the word ageism in our version because ‘Let’s Talk about Ageism’ is the first message of our Age Proud Leeds campaign.

Ageism is prejudice or discrimination based on a person’s age. It is mostly used to describe the disadvantages faced by older people. It was first used by Robert Butler in 1969. This is his definition:

“[a] process of systematic stereotyping or discrimination against people because they are old, just as racism and sexism accomplish with skin colour and gender. Ageism allows the younger generations to see older people as different than themselves; thus they subtly cease to identify with their elders as human beings.” (1)

Ageism is widespread and can be expressed by people of any age (2). Many people take on these negative beliefs without even realising it. This has been shown to be harmful, particularly for older people (3). The Age Proud Leeds campaign is challenging ageism because we want to celebrate older people as ‘assets’ rather than ‘burdens’.

Initially encouraging people to find out more about ageism the campaign will also explore the impacts of ageism on people of all ages and have a focus on diversity and equality. Throughout the campaign we will share positive perspectives about ageing and celebrate the contributions made by older people.

Until March 2021 the Age Proud Leeds campaign will be offering opportunities for the people of Leeds to learn more about ageism and to take part in the campaign, with suggested actions. So keep in touch by looking at the Age Proud Leeds pages.

Let us know if you talk about ageism. We’re keen to know what people think.


Jude Woods
Time to Shine Communities Officer
0113 244 1697

(1) (as cited in Butler, 1975) [48]…( Robert N. Butler. Why survive? Being old in America. New York: Harper & Row. (1975)

(2) (accessed 1.10.19)

(3) Developing a national barometer of prejudice and discrimination in Britain, Dominic Abrams, Hannah Swift and Diane Houston, University of Kent, Centre for the Study of Group Processes, Birkbeck, University of London. Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2018