The "ism" Is Real

Beth Broderick

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If you are over the age of fifty five, then you are familiar with the “ism“ of which I speak. Ageism is a real factor in our lives. It is a factor at work, at the grocery store, at the car repair shop, and the doctor’s office. It’s routine and rotten and very difficult to combat.

Excuse me….I have to get to hair and make-up!. Every day the young supporting actress pushed her way past me, quite literally shoving me aside. It seemed not to have occurred to her that I was also on my way to hair and make-up. My age must have blinded her to this possibility because she never seemed to grasp it. I just got out of her way as best I could and chalked it up to the “ism” that the film and television industry is justly famous for (don’t get me started!). Really, don’t.

Some time ago I tried to explain to one of my doctors, a specialist, the myriad uncomfortable and to me wholly unacceptable side effects of a medicine he had prescribed. I described the nausea and extreme flu-like symptoms, the hair loss and weakness. He shrugged and said "you seem fine. I have patients your age with bigger problems". I tried a few more times to impress upon him with the wisdom that exists within my own body, that I was certain that we should try a different treatment. On he went shrugging and dismissing. "Well the flu symptoms could be causing the hair loss. I think you are fine. I see no reason to change the prescription".

I sat there contemplating this doctor with his condescending smile: “how is it possible” I thought, “that no patient has yet struck you in the head with a ball peen hammer?” That is what I thought. Then I left and got a better doctor.

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I am a single woman and a home-owner. I recently needed to get quotes for some minor roof repairs. The first fellow called me ma’am and quoted me fifteen thousand dollars. Another fellow quoted thirteen thousand. Yet another came in at ten thousand. I decided to ask two younger male friends to get an additional quote and took myself out of sight. The job ended up costing eleven hundred dollars. That’s a fourteen thousand dollar “ism”.

I am blessed to have found a talented, kind, and fair contractor who has collaborated with me on a full redesign of my home. He focuses primarily on helping women and older folks because he knows that they are targets of unscrupulous contractors and repair services.

I also found a doctor that can hear me when I am speaking (this is harder than it should be, but it can be done).

As far as show business is concerned…..they tell you when you get to Hollywood: “whatever you do ,do not get older!”. I went and did it anyway. I am grateful to be oft-employed and I do what I can to bring dimension to characters that are routinely underwritten.

Stories of the “isms” abound in our circles. I am sure that it will come up in this column again and again. Some of the “ism” is just best ignored. Other forms need to be seriously addressed. I encourage you to use every tool available to get the service you deserve and the protection that you need.

We are fully-grown. That’s a beautiful thing. Don’t let any “ism” tell you otherwise.

On we go..…

Benjamin Hotel
Benjamin Hotel


Beth Broderick

Beth Broderick is an actress, writer, and humanitarian.

She has enjoyed a successful career spanning film, television, and theatre. She is also the founder of MOMENTUM, one of the country's first organization to support individuals with AIDS.

Beth currently divides her time between Los Angeles, CA and Austin, TX.