Carol Vorderman has said she wants to see ageism “flushed down the same toilet” as sexism as she talked about her fight against the “final taboo”.
The broadcaster, 58, said there is still too much negative focus on people who are older, and it can be compared to the MeToo movement against sexual discrimination.
She also revealed she is happy to date younger men and does not understand why it should be considered such a big deal.
The former Countdown star wrote in the Daily Mail’s Femail magazine that negative phrases such as “‘grumpy’ and ‘bitter’ are rife while ‘over the hill’ and ‘past it’ seem to weaponise everyday language and turn it against people whose only crime is to turn 50 and still be alive”.
She said: “I’m 58, and the only hill I’m over is the one I hiked last weekend. Past it? Past what?
“I make no secret of the fact that I date men who are younger than me. Big deal.
“But I also have ‘special friends’ who are around my age, too. The one thing all my friends have in common, ‘special’ or otherwise, is that we like people for their spirit and attitudes and laughter, not what it says on their birth certificates.”
The TV star said that in 20 years, “that kind of language to denigrate older people will, I’m certain, have been banished from society altogether”.
“But I want us all to speed up that process so ageism gets flushed down the same toilet that’s disposing of sexism.”
She pointed out that, while she is largely able to ignore such comments, research from insurance company SunLife – for whom she is an ambassador – found that “two-thirds of people over 50 find it harder to laugh them off; indeed, they say how they find them deeply hurtful”.
Vorderman used the example of when she wore a short dress to the TV Baftas nearly 20 years ago when she was 39, and the “furore” it caused that somebody of her age would wear something exposing their knees.
She said: “Fast forward to this year’s Baftas and can you imagine a similar brouhaha over a pair of 39-year-old kneecaps being on display? In this post-MeToo era, someone making the kind of ageist comments I had to put up with would be laughed out of the room, or laughed at.”
Vorderman said that her 50s have been “the best decade of my life so far” and that she still parties hard, works less hard, and is “old enough to know who I am and what I love, and I fully indulge”.