“Do You Mind If I Ask Your Age?”

October 20, 2023

“Do You Mind If I Ask Your Age?”

May 29, 2023

At the airport recently, I heard a little piece of what I would consider unintended ageism passed on from a mother to her six-year-old daughter.

The daughter had asked a fit older woman with a lot of bags, “How old are you?” And, you’d think that the young girl had asked, “How’s your sex life, Granny?” The mom scolded her daughter and said that’s an impolite question, as if age is a shameful topic. 

Granny handled the question well and told her she’d just turned 65 and was feeling fitter than ever (and it was apparent she was in good shape). She then moved on with her day. The young girl asked her mom, “Why can’t I ask anyone their age? I can do that at school.” Mom responded by saying, “As adults get older, they often want to hide their age, so it’s the last topic they want to talk about.”

Wow, how did we get to this point that age is a taboo topic like sex, religion, or political persuasion? 

When I asked ChatGPT about this, it said that the best thing to do before asking someone’s age is to compliment them on how young they look. In other words, butter them up with “You have so much energy. Do you mind me asking your age?” or “You look so damn hot! How old are you?” 

What do you think about this question? Are we ageist by believing it’s a taboo topic or just being polite?

- Chip

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