the invisible woman

the invisible midlife woman - is it a myth?

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?

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 & 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*

I've since 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 (probably because I'm wearing almost no makeup most of the time) and heaven help me trying to find a pair of shoes!

The job market is another shark tank of dive in and risk being eaten. 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 I am always 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.

So, I'm not sure how others handle the phenomenon, but my solution is to keep my head up, keep smiling and try 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 step back and 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 looked over if it's because someone is basing their viewpoint on the superficial rather than looking deeper. So, here's to speaking up and being seen!

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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