Ageism isn’t okay either.

Most of us know better by now than to make racist or sexist comments, at least in public.? Ageism, though, seems to still be considered fair game, at least among certain venues in the craftosphere.

First there was this little gem from the Etsy Forums:

Vanessa says

(snip) Here’s the thing. We really want to represent the older demographic of Etsy sellers. We are not looking for the hip, the indie, or the alt craftster seller for this one (though we love you guys, you know we do)! We are looking for the classic, traditional, old school crafter. We are dreaming of a charming, little old lady who has been quilting for 60 years! Or a blacksmith or a furniture maker whose techniques have been passed down through the ages! Lacemaking, whittling, miniatures (and there are so many more examples…)

If this is you or have noticed a shop like this on Etsy, (or your grandma or grampa or uncle that you’ve been dying to get on Etsy, now is the moment) and you’re in the area, this is your moment to shine!

I wasn’t aware that “classic, traditional, old school” was the sole province of “charming little old ladies.”? In my experience, “the hip, the indie, or the alt craftster” doesn’t imply young.? After all, it’s my generation, the early-to-mid part of the Boomers, that was the ’60s hippie movement.? If that wasn’t hip, indie, and alt, what was?

Other Etsy staff tried to backpedal, but it was too late. The word is out.? Etsy has to make special allowances, as it were, for the older folks who just aren’t as hip as the presumptive target demographic.? I wonder if the Etsy staff has any real idea how old their sellers actually are, or for that matter how old their non-selling buyers are?

Follow that with the recent interview with Carter Seibels in Belle Armoire Jewelry’s latest issue, which adds insult to injury: (emphasis added)

She stays on top of trends in lampwork beads by tracking the listings on eBay, where you can see a huge range of quality and style from the omnipresent mold-pressed beads to one-of-a-kind works of art, from the traditional colors and shapes of beads created by the typical middle-aged bead artist to the more experimental pieces being created by younger artists just starting out.

Does she know the ages of the bead artists on eBay?? I doubt it.? I’m aware of a number of rather young lampworkers selling on eBay that make what most people think of as traditionally colored and shaped beads, because there’s a decent market for them.? I’ve also seen many of the most innovative and creative bead artists that I know of, young and old, leaving eBay for other venues.

Carter was called out on Lampwork Etc. for her comments (not just the one above, but her dismissal of presses and other such tools as producing inferior quality beads — not true, but that’s another post for another time).? Unfortunately, I didn’t read the thread and it’s gone now because it turned rather nasty.? I have it from my reliable source, however, that her attempts to justify her words only showed that she actually believes that young artists are more creative and edgy, more artist-y if you like.? She’s apologized on her blog, but it comes across as damage control more than anything.

Odd, that.? Many of the lampwork artists that I regard as doing truly unique and experimental work left their twenties behind long ago.? Andrea Guarino-Slemmons, Marcy Lamberson, Pam Dugger — those are just three that come immediately to mind.? Their work, for me, is far more innovative than anything Carter Seibels showed in the Belle Armoire article, on her website, or in stock today at Matilda’s Garden in Alpharetta.

Would either statement have been taken differently if the speaker had used women vs. men, or Caucasian vs. African-American, instead of young vs. old?? Would either statement have even seen the light of day?? The fact that Madison Avenue constantly promotes youth, youth, youth does not mean that it’s okay to disrespect anyone over 40 — Madison Avenue is full of crap anyway.

Ageist remarks are just as offensive as racist or sexist ones.? You probably won’t ever change your race or your gender, but you damn well are going to become one of us “middle-aged folks” sooner than you think…and you don’t want to find out just what a bitch karma is when you get here.

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1 comment

    • Jeannette on July 21, 2008 at 10:08 am

    Brilliantly stated, my dear!

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