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Ageism on Social Media is Rampant—Even Martha Stewart and Helen Mirren Are Targets

Ugh. Can people please stay off Instagram and Facebook if they are just going to tell us what we can and can’t do?!?

Welcome to the world of “two steps forward, one step back.” While more and more examples of Aging Boldly permeate the culture, there are always some stinkers who spoil the fun. What exactly do we mean? Ageism on social media, in this case.

Let us share Exhibit A: This fall, the fabulous Dame Helen Mirren, age 73, posted a photo on Instagram, taken while she was in Lithuania. She was sporting a sleek black Tumi backpack strapped over her shoulders.

Here are some of the negative responses she had to endure: “She looks silly with it” and “No, no, no, Helen! You are so beautiful gorgeous perfection … Why messing with that. It’s a no-no after 19,” to which someone else replied, “‘Who says it’s a no-no! Why not defy these silly rules and make it a yes-yes.”


Yes, she was age-shamed for using a backpack. Ridiculous! Just because many younger people and children use them, does that mean a woman of a certain age can’t? Are we not allowed to eat ice cream or wear sneakers, either?

Martha Stewart, Too

For Exhibit B, let us offer up another recent example: Martha Stewart, age 77, shared a photo—one that now has 13,000-plus likes—on Instagram last month of herself and her new Interceptor Platinum Editor e-bike (meaning it has an electric motor). Rather than earning kudos for trying out new technology, she got this: “Sorry but you are too old to bike safely … set an example admit it make it easier for the rest of us to give up thinking we can still do it all,” said one commenter.

Martha’s reply? “I feel sorry for you if you think I am too old to bicycle. I keep in excellent shape by doing many outdoor and indoor exercises and activities!” Exactly!

Martha’s retort: ‘I feel sorry for you if you think I am too old to bicycle.’

While it’s sad that there are still trolls out there with antiquated notions of age and aging, it’s at least heartening that social media lets us give these folks the what-for. Freedom of speech runs in all directions, and here’s to the wise words drowning out the nasty ones.

By Janet Siroto


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