There is an unspoken menace facing those of us under fifteen years old.
No, it’s not disgustingly low expectations. Or lice (which sucks).
I call it youthism.
You haven’t heard of youthism?
Youthism is the discrimination against a human being for no other reason than being young.
I recently had first-hand experience with youthism while shopping for Christmas presents for my sisters in my downtown. I was at a local Antique shop looking through some CD’s when I felt a bony hand on my shoulder. I turned around to see a kind looking, old lady.
“Excuse me dear, but is you Mommy or Daddy with you?”
My face turned bright red with anger.
I knew where this was going.
There was a lot of things I wanted to say.
I wanted to tell her I have been walking around town by myself for years. That by the time I had turned seven my parents had two babies to take care of and no longer had the time or energy to keep track of me.
I wanted to tell her that I was insulted.
I wanted to let her know that I am a business owner, just like her. That in my pocket was cash that I had earned through MY hard work.
But instead, all that came out was one meek word.
“No,” I whispered.
“Then I’m going to have to ask you to leave,” the nice old lady said politely.
I sheepishly walked out the door.
I felt humiliated. How could this have happened?
I’m sure the nice old lady created this policy because people my age have stolen from her store.
But that still wasn’t a good excuse.
We are all individuals.
Why do we tolerate banning an entire group of people based on their age?
I wish that the antique store was the only one that instituted this disgusting rule, but sadly, the policy of not allowing young people into stores without an adult is common in places all over the country.
How do we deal with it?
The answer is simple; young people need to band together and stop giving businesses that have a policy of Youthism our dollars. If you are told we aren’t welcome in the store because of our age, don’t go back with your parents and give them your money! All that does is encourage these discriminatory business owners.
After I cooled off I walked to the next block and found a different antique store. They were happy to take my money, despite the fact that I wasn’t accompanied by a geriatric. I bought a cool purse and a Spice Girls CD. They made nearly $20 in business. I call that a win-win.
Real freedom begins when young people stop letting older people define us by our age and instead of looking at us as the unique individuals we are.
I’m not JUST a twelve year old. I’m Hilde Kate Lysiak. And that means SO much more than could fit in the pages of this magazine. Or that one store clerk could ever understand.
I hope other kids feel the same way about themselves that I do and stop spending money at stores that discriminate based on age.