Do you think it's true that older women become invisible? I keep hearing it, but I don’t know if I believe it.

 

I think invisibility is like a new car: once you buy it, you see that model everywhere.


Recently I read a post wherein an older woman (OW) claimed to be invisible because, while she stood at a counter talking with a clerk, a younger woman came up and got the clerk’s attention. And this happened on two occasions! The OW was greatly offended.

 

I wasn’t there, but maybe the intruder was rude and pushy, and inserted herself in a way that left the clerk no choice. It happens. Maybe you’ve even done it. Yeah, you just had that one little question. Real fast, short, question. Don’t mean to interrupt. (Are you kidding me? Never?) The OW had plans for if this happened again: she would demand the intruder wait her turn. Refuse to be shoved aside. Command respect. Show those kids you’re just as important as they are.

 

Heck, while you’re at it, whack ‘em with your cane, Grandma.

 

Do you feel invisible because men no longer ogle you? Listen, I’m not bragging, but back when I was young and cute I felt like I couldn’t sneak by those jerks. Now I can walk right down the street and they don’t even notice. It’s a relief. And really, you could get dogs to chase you if you wore a steak tied to each ankle. Or move to Alaska for more attention, where as one tour guide told me, “The odds are good, but the goods are odd.”

 

Say you didn’t get the promotion you deserved. Maybe you’re not invisible so much as (a) a woman, (b) your boss is stupid or you remind him of his mom, or (c) your resume’ has some gaps in it because you took a few years off to perpetuate the species. Bad you!

 

I culled through everything I could find on invisibility for women over forty, and here are the suggestions for fighting back:

  • speak up, don’t mumble
  • dress appropriately. No bag-lady attire.
  • stay up with current events so you can carry on an interesting conversation
  • act interested/think of other people
  • maintain fitness
  • don’t be negative
  • get to the point and/or be clear when articulating a problem

 

But you know, if a person mumbles, dresses like crap, doesn’t know what’s going on in the world, isn’t interested in their conversational partner, is cranky and complains all the time, or blabbers incoherently when reporting a problem to an authority figure, that person isn’t invisible. That person is unpleasant, or annoying, or is using way too much time. When you do that, people tend to avoid you, and it’s not age- or gender-specific.

 

My mom is 86 years old and less than five feet tall. She walks slowly and uses a cane, but she is only invisible until she gets to the front of the line. Then she makes herself visible. She makes eye contact, projects her voice, is courteous and gets to the point. This is on good days. On bad days, when she is more frustrated or tired, she rambles and people want her gone. They ignore her and look at me. I feel bad for Mom when that happens, but it’s not about her being invisible. It’s about her being tired, and them being in a hurry. Our species can be competitive and even cruel. A lot of the time, if you don’t bring your “A” game, you can get run over.

 

As if you were invisible.

 

What do you think? Is invisibility real, or is it something else?

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Tags: becoming, boomers, invisible, middle-age, women

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