silver hair

Don’t Call Me “Young Lady”!

I’m letting my hair go gray – or as my beauty editor friend calls it, “silver”. I like my new, honest look very much. Yet ever since I stopped touching up my roots, I’ve been addressed by some people as “young lady”. I know they probably mean well, and I have yet to respond with the snarky comments I’d like to use. Rest assured, though, I find being called “young lady” disrespectful.

Why? I’m fortunate enough to be healthy at this stage of my life, and although I’m not as spry as I was way back when I was a professional ballerina, I do have all my faculties. Not only that, but I believe in the adage that goes “older and wiser”. When you call me “young lady”, you are ignoring all the experiences that have made me mentally and emotionally richer over the decades. Think about the Native Americans who revere their elders. That’s an attitude I wholeheartedly applaud! I can’t imagine a scenario in which a youngish Native American addresses a Native American elder as “young lady”!

I know that the readers of thirdAGE probably range in age from 40-something to well beyond the official retirement age. If you are on the younger end of this spectrum, please think before you address an older woman as “young lady”. Like me, she probably won’t correct or reprimand you. I know, though, that she is almost certainly offended rather than flattered.

What should you say rather than “young lady”? How about “woman” or better yet “person”? Examples: “The woman seated in the far left corner of the audience asked an important question.” Or, “The person seated in the far left corner of the audience asked an important question.”

OK, I’m getting off my soapbox now! Carry on!

Sondra Forsyth is a Co-Editor-in-Chief of

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