Believe it or not, I experience Ageism; notice the verbiage, is present tense smh because it happens and has happened a good amount of times, meh. Look, I can't help the fact that I look relatively young or have a "young" face, it's a blessing from God :-) thank you genes lol
As a mental health counselor in the field, I can remember a time when I was working at a private mental health agency, I was meeting with a new client and received and reviewed the paperwork prior to finally meeting the client, who was a minor, so I would have to meet with the client's parent first and foremost prior to counseling the client. I remember after finishing up the initial assessment and setting up the next appointment, I received word from the receptionist at the time that the client's mother requested that he see a much older therapist, her exact words were, "she may be too young and attractive to counsel my son." At first I was upset about it, but then I was like, "well it's her decision to do so and she has that right." Imagine how that made me feel in that moment though?! At the time I didn't view it as Ageism either, oddly enough.
I know that my physical appearance; how I look plays a part in my profession and have at times worn articles of clothing just to appease the "masses" and have worn makeup even on days I don't feel like it in order to "look" more mature smh, that was soon short-lived though, because I decided that the right clients will place value in their treatment versus how the therapist looks... I'm saying that loosely because as long as I'm not dressed or look inappropriate then All should be well, right?! ...Wrong!
I recently had a new client, who was an older male, refer to me as "young lady", he is actually in his mid 40s, but didn't call me by my name like my other clients do. Here is the thing, there is a certain level of respect that goes both ways in the counselor-client relationship and then there are subtle ways a client can and will let you know that he/she doesn't respect you yet or he/she doesnt at all...Being that he was a new client, I went ahead and reiterated and gracefully let the client know to refer to me as Kemi in going further just to set the expectation for him clearly...Just so you know it was received well.
I no longer work for an agency doing contract work, I work for myself; I have my own private practice providing mental health counseling...And guess what, I wear what I want! that's appropriate of course. I let my clients know ahead of time if it's their first encounter with me that therapy is not like what you see on TV necessarily and I don't wear business attire, because at the end of the day I don't want to appear unapproachable or "untouchable" and sitting behind a desk with a suit on doesn't quite do it for me; my clients appreciate that about me !
I'd rather be judged for the type of care or treatment you receive from me versus how young I look; because age as we know it isn't the biggest determining factor of the type of knowledge you will receive either. #fact