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This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism

Review

This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism

If you watch TV, even a little, try counting the number of commercials that focus in some way on being younger, stronger, abler, more beautiful, more toned and richer.

This crème will take years off your skin, this color will give your hair the gleam of a teenager’s, that car will bring out your inner 20-something, that home-exercise gadget will reclaim your 1980s body.

As Ashton Applewhite reiterates throughout THIS CHAIR ROCKS, there is nothing wrong --- in fact, everything right --- about taking care of the only physical bodies and brains we’ll ever get in this universe.

What is so fundamentally wrong in our impatient and consumerist society, however, is that we’re relentlessly pressured into equating self-care with the denial of our years and of the changes (not losses!) they bring to the myriad ways in which we move, think, create and emote.

"THIS CHAIR ROCKS demands multiple readings and real live group conversations in order to absorb and apply the positive ideas it covers..."

People who superficially look and act “younger” than their age are celebrated as being super-seniors, while those of any age who appear elderly, and have visible disabilities or mobility restrictions, are marginalized as far outside mainstream society as possible.

The idea that like-belongs-with-like has resulted in an insidious North American caste system that ranks one’s worth according to Three A’s --- Ageism, Ableism and Appearanceism.

In THIS CHAIR ROCKS (first published independently in 2016), Applewhite confronts numerous socially sanctioned conventions through which these pernicious “isms” negatively affect not just the Olders of society (her term), but everyone else as well.

Through nine densely packed and brilliantly argued chapters, she unpacks the origins of ageism and how we are conned into self-identifying through numbers alone, debunks myths around cognitive decline, separates the misaligned concepts of youth and health, busts the idea that mandatory retirement is somehow good for the economy, and campaigns for a more intergenerational and interactive culture as a long-overdue normal.

A widely acknowledged expert-activist on ageism and its antidotes, Applewhite brings her combined gifts as author, storyteller, social historian, advocate, influencer and determined disturber to the so-called “problem” of being old in the 21st century.

She easily could have pulled off a Lone Ranger approach to the subject and delivered a highly credible book. But in mindfully citing a wide diversity of international voices, she has gone far beyond the merely competent to deliver something with potentially huge impact on how we understand every stage of life in healthy communities.

THIS CHAIR ROCKS demands multiple readings and real live group conversations in order to absorb and apply the positive ideas it covers, in addition to getting our collective heads around the many destructive notions (some of them alarmingly common and “harmless”) that Applewhite soundly demolishes.

Bottom line: We are much more than our date of birth. How much? Just read this book.

Reviewed by Pauline Finch on April 19, 2019

This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism
by Ashton Applewhite

  • Publication Date: March 5, 2019
  • Genres: Nonfiction, Sociology
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Celadon Books
  • ISBN-10: 1250311489
  • ISBN-13: 9781250311481