Two Things you Should Never Say to a Woman

Dale and Kerri /Photograph by Kevin Pieper for Mother Earth News

About 10 days ago, I posted about making an eating lifestyle change to an all plant based, whole foods diet.

Nearly two weeks in, we’re still doing pretty well with it with a few exceptions. We had some leftover eggs, cheese and butter we didn’t want to waste so Dale ate those and I had some yummy Coffeemate creamer I finished this week.

Dale really never committed to the change completely, opting for a day a week to eat whatever he wanted. We haven’t had meat, though (well, I did have one stuffed mushroom with a teaspoon or less of crab meat stuffing in it), and he calls me when he is traveling for work to ask me what he should eat on the menu when he’s eating out.

I really don’t feel any different yet, but when I stepped on the scales last weekend, I was heartened to see I had lost 5 pounds. That may not sound like a lot, but that’s a total of 10 pounds since I started seeing the doctor trained in traditional Chinese medicine.

I figure every pound counts, especially since I’ve been feeling old, fat and frumpy as of late.

An experience at the health food store didn’t help last week.

An older woman was standing behind me and after making a wide-eyed comment about my bill total, which represented a week’s worth of groceries and staples such as non-dairy butter, etc. she says to me, “I bet you didn’t ask for your senior discount did you!?”

A little shocked, I just shook my head and said, “No, I didn’t.”

The cashier, looking uncomfortable, maybe after seeing the look on my face, said to the woman, “You do have to ask for it, some people get upset if we ask them if they want to use it, especially if they’re not qualified yet.”

I smiled and said, “I know the feeling.” When I got in the truck, I didn’t cry, but I felt the tears well for a minute.

I’m 49. I’m far from qualifying for a senior discount, unless you take AARPs stance that 50 is the new 65 because they want to collect more membership fees longer.

I was just telling a friend of mine that I’ve always looked older than my years. I’ll never forget the time when I was in college and with a friend from high school at the mall. She met a guy there and he asked, “Oh, is this your mother?” nodding in my direction. That made me feel as good as the time a man asked me a few years later when I was due (I seriously was not overweight in my 20s, but I was wearing a skirt that did make my belly stick out a little).

There’s a point in life for most people when we show the trials and the losses we’ve faced. Some people bear their living better than others. I swear that my mother did not look “old” until after my brother passed away, when she was 76.

I feel like we’ve been through a lot these past few years and there are days now that I feel every minute of my 49. I’m sure my current weight doesn’t help me to look any younger.

Sure, I guess it would be ok to save money here and there with senior discounts, but then I read a blog post by a friend of mine about age discrimination and really have no desire to get there any faster.

At least when I asked Dale if I looked old enough for a senior discount, he wisely said, “I don’t think so,” and proceeded to remind me that he’s been asked the same question about senior discounts a couple of times himself.

Now I’ve officially had both things said to me that one should never say to a woman, “When are you due?” and “Would you like the senior discount?”

Makes me glad that at least for the time being, I’m eating healthier and my weight is on a downward trajectory.

Have you ever been asked about a senior discount, or if you’re a woman, the big no-no of being asked when you’re due?

You may also like...

27 Responses

  1. Oh, lord. Some people will never learn. You never assume pregnancy till it’s announced and you never presume to know anybody’s age.

  2. Jane Boursaw says:

    First, I think it’s so sweet that Dale calls you to ask what he can eat on the menu.

    And second, go you! That is awesome about the plant-based diet and weight loss. Especially since I know personally that the older we get, the harder it is to lose those stinkin’ pounds.

    And third, people are nitwits. You’re awesome.

    • Kerri says:

      LOL, yes, people are nitwits sometimes. Thanks, I appreciate you telling me I’m awesome. 🙂 I think it’s sweet Dale calls me too. He’s getting the hang of it. Basically, it boils down to no meat, no cheese.

  3. Kerry Dexter says:

    what about losing the stereotypes, on all sides of the conversation? people of 50 (or anything above that for senior discounts according to where you are) look all sorts of different ways, as do people of other ages. age — any age — is not an insult. neither is it a stereotype.

    true, the woman you encountered at the grocer’s was clueless, but perhaps that speaks to her state of mind and state of manners — seems to me commenting on the cost of someone else’s purchases is tasteless of itself, though I expect she meant no harm by it.

    • Kerri says:

      The senior discount at the store applies to those 62 and above, meant in the U.S. to help those on social security, afford groceries.

      • Kerry Dexter says:

        sure, I am familiar with that, and I am sorry you felt disconcerted, insulted, and such. it can be startling, I agree. I started going grey when I was thirty so I’ve often been the recipient of such comments. perhaps your story will help remind folks to think before they speak.

        good for you and Dale trying out different ways food can improve your health. I’ve been a vegetarian for a long time, I’ll be interested to hear how it goes for you both and what you learn.

        • Kerri says:

          So far, so good, Kerry. We’re learning a lot. I’m trying tofu this week, we’ll see how that goes. My husband hasn’t tried it and hates quinoa and I’m a little concerned about him getting enough protein in his diet. If you have any good recipes to share, would love to hear them.

  4. ChristineGL says:

    Our culture is so age-phobic; I wish it weren’t so. It’s why a comment about age is depressing instead of validating/empowering. I wish the wisdom of older women were respected so much more. Perhaps that will change someday! That said, I completely agree that there are things one just need not say. I know I’ve been on the receiving end of various surprising comments multiple times!

    • Kerry Dexter says:

      well said, Christine.

      • Kerri says:

        Yes, I agree and I don’t buy into the myth that women, or anyone, is worth less in our society because they have age. I’ve always had a deep respect for our mature population, I just don’t want to hurry it to get here. 🙂

  5. Alexandra says:

    I find I’m really glad to embrace the senior discount, but that may also be due to the fact my hubby is older, 75. We use it at the movies, when we go, which is not all that often. Congrats on losing weight. I mean to get myself on a diet. I feel so much better when I weigh less, but winter is tough. I end up eating for comfort, I guess.

    • Kerri says:

      Well, I would say at 75, your husband deserved that senior disocunt! 🙂 I made a comment below about my doctor telling me not to view this for its weight loss, I think that’s the key. Just to eat healthy and the weight loss will follow.

  6. eM says:

    When I asked for copies of my medical record from a specialist, I was surprised to see “appears older than her age” on the notes made during intake. (I’m 55.)

    When I asked the nurse about it she said it was because I have gray hair, I wear glasses, I don’t wear makeup, and I arrived by bus. According to her, most women my age would “care more about appearances.” (But she did say I had a great hair cut, beautiful complexion, and stylish glasses. ??? )

    For the record, I’ve been gray since I was 30 (as have most of the women in my family), and I’m chemically sensitive so I don’t try to color my hair any more. I don’t wear make up for the same reason. I can’t stand the thought of sticking my finger in my eye and glasses are (to me) easier to maintain. And I don’t have a car simply because they are too expensive and I live in a city with above average public transportation.

    So I concluded “appears older than her age” really meant “has wisdom enough to not let vanity compromise good sense”.


    • Kerri says:

      Oh, my, that’s really weird. I guess we can turn it around on these youngins’ and tell them they look young enough to be our granddaughters or grandsons! 🙂 With age does come wisdom and I do think you’re right. 🙂

  7. Holly says:

    I just had to share: I have had the “old” comments too although I am 49 too! I have a 5 year old child and people often assume I am ‘grandma’ to him:) It does sting a bit. I always think perhaps I need a hair color change, manicure, update of clothes, etc…Ha!

    • Kerri says:

      Holly, I’ve head that having young kids around keeps you in a young frame of mind. I think it worked for my mother, so that’s a good thing! 🙂 My mom always had that “old” style hair, which is the only thing that made her look older. She always dressed stylish and was young in her appearance, but when next to parents in their 20s and 30s of course, she did appear older. I wouldn’t worry about it! Your child has many advantages to having a more mature parent. 🙂

  8. Mary says:

    Congratulations on weight loss. Be proud of taking steps to improve your health and fitness.

    • Kerri says:

      Thanks, Mary. We like food and love to eat, so this is a change for us. My doctor says, though, we should concentrate on eating healthy first and foremost and the weight loss will naturally follow. I think that’s a good plan.

  9. Olivia says:

    Because I am exceedingly thin AND have celiac disease I generally can’t eat any of the sandwiches or sweets that are commonly prepared for gatherings.If I am lucky there will be a fruit or veggie tray – but I have to avoid the dip. The comment I usually get is (in a pointedly critical tone of voice), “No wonder you’re so thin. You don’t eat.” People seem to think it’s fine to make insulting or critical comments about thin people. I don’t understand this because I would never make any sort of negative comment about anyone’s appearance.

    Where I live a senior is considered to be anyone 50 or over so it doesn’t bother me at all to be called a senior. I look way younger than I am so I usually have to request the senior’s discount – and then they ask for my ID !!

    • Kerri says:

      Olivia, My mother was *very* thin, she used to have to drink half and half to keep herself above 90 pounds and she would say the same thing about being called “Olive Oil” or “skinny.” Usually when someone makes an off the cuff remark, I think, it is out of jealousy. They are probably overweight, or at least have a hard time keeping it down. Carded? Lucky girl, I say. I think i had to wait until I was 22 before anyone even carded me after I turned 21 and since it’s only happened when the clerk is required to card *everyone*.

  10. Oh dear- I think every woman in the world has had that same kind of tacky, offensive question put to her in one way or another, if she’s lived long enough.

    I had surgery on my shoulder last year and had to undergo some pretty intensive post-op physical therapy. Part of it was hydro-therapy in a special pool designed for that sort of thing. There were often other people sharing the pool, doing their own re-hab work at the same time.

    Once, I was in the pool doing my exercises, when a very elderly gentleman (maybe late seventies, early eighties) who was in the pool at the time, asked about my injury. Told him it was a rotator cuff repair and he asked, “was it due to an injury or just “old age?” OLD AGE? I knew for sure that I was at LEAST thirty years younger than this old man, if not more. But as much as I tried to just brush it off, I have to admit that it stung.

    I’ve always been careful about my diet and watched my weight. I’m outdoorsy. I do horseback riding, gardenening, hiking and lead a very active life. In fact, I’m fairly certain that the rotator cuff tear occurred when I went ice skating with my niece, then was aggravated by horseback riding, so it was in no way related to “old age.”

    I can’t imagine anybody would look at you, Kerri, and think that you should qualify for a senior discount. That is just absurd. Probably like the man who asked about my shoulder surgery, it was a case of someone whose eyesight was bad due to their OWN OLD AGE!

    Congratulations on the dietary changes, but you have absolutely no reason to feel “old, fat and frumpy.” I think it’s great that you and Dale are working to live a healthier lifestyle, as we all should, but I’ve been around you enough to see that you keep busy and active, and certainly don’t look like anyone who is even near the age of qualifying for a senior discount.

    • Kerri says:

      You made me LOL by saying their eyesight is bad du to their own old age! 🙂 Thanks, friend, and back to you. You’re not old either, nor do you look it. I think I would have told him though, “I tore my shoulder jumping out of an airplane and then ziplining all in one day.” That probably would have blew his mind.

  11. Sara says:


    I’m 24 years old, 5’4″ and 135 pounds. The other day I was in the parking garage and upon seeing someone had hit my car, I said that I was having a pretty bad day. As I turned sideways to take a picture of the damage, the woman next to me exclaimed, “OH! And you’re pregnant too? You poor thing.”

    I’m definitely not, nor have I ever been, pregnant. Needless to say, she did not make my bad day any better.

    It’s not just you. And I don’t think you look like a senior citizen at all! Goodness. In fact I know plenty of people who DO technically “qualify” as senior citizens who don’t look it!!

    People will unfortunately always assume and not think before they speak. The only thing we can do is have a sense of humor and learn to take their perspective with a grain of salt, and laugh about how completely off base they are instead.

  12. Kerri says:

    LOL, Brette. That reminds me of one time I was driving with my mother and a car in front of us said, “Seniors! We’re out of here!” and my mom says, “We’re out of here, where are we doing?” She had no idea it meant seniors in high school graduating. We laughed and laughed about that for the rest of her life. 🙂

  13. I was given a senior discount at a TJ Maxx in Florida this spring. I’m 44! The woman was nice though and said it’s Tuesday so you get the senior discount – for being a senior in high school. I think she was giving it to every customer.
    Great news on your weight loss!!!!!!