HOW TO STOP BEING THE INVISIBLE WOMAN IN MIDLIFE

The idea of the invisible Midlife woman is a myth. It's time to step out of the shadows and be noticed for the vibrant women we are. #invisible #midlife

WHEN MIDLIFE WOMEN BECOME INVISIBLE

Along with "looking good for your age" comes another Midlife phenomenon - becoming invisible. I've seen many comments about this in regard to men not seeing 50+ women, but it's not just men who don't see us, it's shop assistants, clothing manufacturers and employers.

Why are Midlife women so undervalued by our society? When did the cult of youth take over from the wisdom of middle age?

OTHER PEOPLE AND INVISIBLE WOMEN

My first encounter with the male side of invisibility was when I was out walking with our (then) teenage daughter and a couple of guys drove past and made an appreciative comment. She was wearing a tank top and shorts and I was in a t-shirt and 3/4 pants. My first response was to be flattered but in a nano-second from there my ego came to a crashing halt as I realized they hadn't even seen me - the comment was for the paragon of youth walking at my side *sigh*. 

There's no competing when it comes to 20 year olds and teenagers - they're younger, sparklier and often more physically attractive. What we need to keep in mind is that it's not a competition. We have so much to offer - maybe on a different playing field, but we can still be attractive and we can still take pride in ourselves and how we present to the world. Teenage boys might not notice, but they're not our target audience!

The idea of the invisible Midlife woman is a myth. It's time to step out of the shadows and be noticed for the vibrant women we are. #invisible #midlife

I've also noticed it when I walk through the shops and when I'm browsing in a younger woman's clothes store - no assistant comes up to help until I track them down to ask a question. The cosmetic counter girls look right through me, and heaven help me trying to find a pair of shoes! It feels like the only women worth noting are those in their 20's - but they're not the ones with spare money or spare time - so why aren't shop assistants focused on those of us who have the time and money to buy their wares? I think things are changing - but it's slow progress and it's up to us to look those assistants in the eye and to stand tall and shop up a storm.

THE WORKFORCE AND INVISIBLE WOMEN

The job market is another shark tank where if you're brave enough dive in, you risk being eaten alive. I look at jobs in office and reception and realize that I am up against young women with certificates in Admin and Business, who look great in a little sheath dress and aren't digging out the spak-filler to try to cover the wrinkles. They are all bright and bouncy and sparkly and I just disappear into the woodwork next to them. Who can blame an employer choosing Little Miss Sunshine over age and experience? So, when I'm reading the fine print on job advertisements - the magic "mature applicant" always gives me hope because I'm in with a chance...I'm certainly in the "mature" category.

Experience has taught me that there are employers out there who value Midlife women - they see past the flashy or the smooth and pretty. They're looking for women who have life experience, who have the maturity to deal with difficult situations. They know that a woman in her 50's isn't going to be affected by school holidays or sick children and she's certainly not going to need Maternity Leave! We need to keep showing up for those job interviews and we need to take ownership of all the great stuff we bring to the table.

HOW DO WE BECOME VISIBLE?

My solution to the perception of invisibility in Midlife is to keep my head up, keep smiling and to exude confidence. If I look people in the eye and smile at them - and initiate contact, they are more likely to see me and respond. Sitting back and waiting to see if they notice me is self defeating and I am not ready to fade away just yet. I'm also not going to try and compete with the young cuties out there - the benefit of age and wisdom is that I recognize my worth and I'm okay with being overlooked if it's because someone is basing their viewpoint on the superficial rather than looking deeper. 

So, if you're feeling invisible how about looking other people in the eye? Be the first to offer a smile and a "hello". Look for ways to stay connected and be interested in other people. Everyone loves to feel like they're important, so why not be the person who notices others - you'd be surprised how often you'll be noticed in return. We're only as invisible as we allow ourselves to be - look up, smile, and engage.

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The idea of the invisible Midlife woman is a myth. It's time to step out of the shadows and be noticed for the vibrant women we are. #invisible #midlife

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1 comment

  1. I love, LOVE this post! I too, have been experiencing the "invisible woman" syndrome. So much so, that a lot of people don't even bother to make eye contact with me or say hello---they just walk by. It's depressing but I try not to let it get to me. Great post, Leanne.

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