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Wednesday 4 August 2021

Is "Grandmother" an Insult?

 Over 60 style blogger Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton in Chinese blue floral skirt worn with white top and infinity scarf from Kettlewell Colours

Deae friends. There's been a lot in the UK papers this week about a woman who took exception to colleagues mentioning her grandmother status.  She said she loved being a grandmother. What she was protesting about was the implied ageism in the term.  

She was overruled by an internal grievance hearing and then by an appeal, but the judge at an industrial tribunal has ruled that the description of her amounted to “detrimental” and “less favourable” treatment because it drew attention to her age.

A couple of columnists in The Tines weighed in and said that Anne Dopson, now 62, was wrong to bring the case. They said we should just own our age, it's nothing to be ashamed of.  All very laudable.


I have to share Dopson's view.  When you're still in the workplace, in an office, as she was, it's hard to avoid prejudice and unconscious bias when all your colleagues are scarcely parents themselves, let alone grandparents. 

Older staff rarely get promoted and are generally the first to be chosen when companies decide to "streamline."   

The UK tabloid newspapers, and social media in general, routinely uses granny  / grandmother as a deliberate way of putting older women down. 

In tabloid stories,  any high-achieving or "have a go" woman over 40 will be described as a  grandmother, if she is one, no matter what her achievements. She could be a rocket scientist,  famous actor or sportsperson. It doesn't matter. The paper wants you to think of a little old lady.

Dame Vivienne Westward is routinely described as "the grandmother of punk."  A male fashion designer is never referred to as a grandfather. Sir Paul Smith, 57, is a married step grandparent (like me) but I've never seen it mentioned in any articles or posts. 

Style for the woman over 60. Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton adds white accessories and a Chinese Blue scarf to a floral Chinese Blue midi skirt

Older Women are a Formidable Force - not Old Ladies

My problem with the term grandmother / grandma / nanny is that to most people it implies a woman who is washed up;  probably rotund, grey haired and twinkly eyed in a baggy cardigan.

It belies the facts.  Women over 50 are FORMIDABLE. 

  • We are happier, and that happiness spreads positivity n the workplace. Research by US data scientist Catherine Hicks, in partnership with  McClennan Masson and Tetra Insights, showed that older adults surveyed (in their 60s, 70s and 80s) were more likely to report feeling calm, optimistic, cheerful and full of life, and less likely to report hopelessness, restlessness, nervousness or sadness, than those in their 20s, 30s and 40s;
  • A study in Finland revealed that older people are physically and mentally fitter than 30 years ago;
  • Research by  AARP showed that older employees have better attendance records and are more  loyal, reliable, and dependable;
  • According to data from a Towers Perrin study, workers age 55 and older are the most motivated
With people needing to work longer for their pensions, we'll see older people less likely to "stand aside" for younger colleagues.  Avoiding stereotypes around ageing and terms like grandmother would be a positive step, and firms should be educating their workforces around this. Currently most are only focused on issues around racism and the LGBTQI community.  Failing to include gender-based ageism is discrimination in itself. 

We are all more than just grandmothers. We deserve the same respect as men, who are rarely described as grandfathers. 

For more on the topic of gender-based age discrimination read my post here.

Today's Outfit

I bought this floral skirt on a whim during the sale a couple of years ago and struggled to find colours that worked with it, except for white.  Then I realised the background is actually Chinese Blue, one of my winter "wow colours." So the skirt has had a new lease of life with my Kettlewell infinity scarf and short tie wrap (not shown) in Chinese Blue.  

Look good over 50. Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton in floral skirt with white top, 40s style sandals and Chinese Blue infinity scarf

Now it's time for #WowOnWednesday, the link-up where readers find new blogs to read and bloggers find new readers.

Last week saw a bumper edition of the link-up. Thanks to all the bloggers who have contributed to the success of #WowOnWednesday.

Last Week's Favourites (Most Clicked)

Catherine from Not Dressed as Lamb with her post "Tulle, Black Lace and Boots + a New ‘Instagram Husband’". How fabulous is this picture, taken by an old friend of hers who is re-establishing himself as a professional photographer.  This is the type of picture I dream of!  Not to mention the skirt! I love tulle skirts with tough black boots.

Nancy from Nancy's Fashion Style struck a chord with her post "The weather - Throwback Tuesday." We had a week of glorious sunshine the week before last  (when Mr Mutton and I were lucky enough to be on holiday) but for the last few days, it's been grey and/or windy with just the occasional sunny interval.  And it was the same in the Netherlands, as Nancy ruefully tells us.  She still had the motivation to put on a great dress and smile.

My favourite post was by Lucy from LucyBertoldi.com - Confessions of a Montreal Styling Diva. Lucy was celebrating her 60th birthday and as always she was marvellously positive about hitting a milestone that some of us dread. Going back to today's blog topic, who could look at lovely Lucy and dismiss her as just a grandmother?  She is a grandmother, and no doubt very proud of the fact. But this is a woman reaching the peak of her powers, indomitable, confident, strong. 

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1 comment

  1. It's a discussion that is so very interesting. Because it's such a grey area for me. I'm not a mother, let alone a grandmother, I'm not working, so it all passes me. But I'm sure that it would annoy me tremendously if I would hear or see it. It makes my day to see I'm featured here. Thanks Gail!


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