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Too old, too overweight and not pretty enough — the kinds of discrimination we don’t talk about

A job seeker at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center for the Opportunity Hiring Fair in Washington on Sept. 20.
(Mandel Ngan / AFP/Getty Images)
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To the editor: Ageism, along with other forms of discrimination, is hardly ever talked about, especially compared with gender and racial discrimination and other well-known forms of bias based on sexual orientation, marital status and religion (or lack thereof). (“Are you too old to find work?” Opinion, Sept. 18)

For the relatively old, the obese or those who don’t conform to society’s idea of beauty, discrimination is real and has an enormous impact in their lives. As a society we have made it a taboo to discuss these discriminatory behaviors, often resulting in silenced victims and the failure to implement laws that can protect them from unfair treatment.

It is time for a discussion on these other forms of discrimination. The old excuse that they are hard to prove is only that: a poor excuse to avoid talking about a delicate subject. This is in fact a problem that affects millions of Americans, and it demands a solution.

Berta Graciano-Buchman, Beverly Hills


To the editor: I believe the piece by Ilana Gershon and Noah Berlatsky is dead-on accurate in some ways, but misleading in others.

It is accurate in that older people (especially women) often face very real employment discrimination. And they are right: It often is camouflaged by job-description language that hypes “adaptability.”

On the other hand, their piece misses the mark by saying businesses shouldn’t hire for personality. In the real world, an applicant’s attitude and personality actually are often more important than his or her skills if a person is to fit into an organizational culture and do well on the job.


Also, focusing too much on what organizations “should” do can be disempowering to those who need to adapt and sell themselves to prospective employers.

Scott Wimer, Santa Monica

The writer is an organizational development consultant.

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