I am not invisible

December 3, 2014

recite-25963-1619515523-1atbo8oHave you heard? Women my age–let’s call it “over 50” –are invisible.

That’s right. No one pays us any attention. We can’t get work, we can’t get men, our lives are over.

Yep, that’s right. Or so we’re told. And that’s what many women at midlife and after believe.

Apparently, I didn’t get the memo.

Because I don’t feel invisible at all.

I feel strong, confident and empowered.

I look back on a long, interesting and successful career with pride and know that my productive life is still not over.  I’m doing the things I want to do –for money and for myself–and I am definitely not invisible.  Just check my bylines and this blog. And the new business idea I’ll be implementing in 2015.

When I was 53 I had three marriage proposals. I didn’t marry any of them, but I did marry someone else. That’s right. Four. And that one came when I was 57.
I call “foul” on that aging and invisibility thing.

I’m anything BUT invisible.

Am I so special? Nahh.  A femme fatale?  Hardly.  (She says, as she laughs heartily at the very idea.)

But everywhere I look? I see possibility.

Yes, even at my advanced age. Possibility.

Think you’re invisible? Then you are. Because how we talk about ourselves becomes who we are.

If you find yourself feeling invisible, ask yourself, to whom am I invisible and how much do they matter?

Here’s what I believe: If we read and listen to empowering messages? We’re empowered to be active, involved and alive.

If we’re active and involved and alive, how can we be invisible?

If we pay attention to those who say we’re cut out of consideration for most opportunities because we’re past midlife? We’ve given up before we’ve even tried.

Here’s what I believe with all my heart: If you know who you are, you don’t have to let anyone–including society–define you.  Because you have defined yourself.

Set your own rules.

I don’t let negative input in. Sure, I’ve probably missed out on some opportunities, but I refuse to believe it’s because I’m older.  Just like I refuse to believe I am invisible.

Because you know what?  I’m not invisible.

And neither are you.  Because if you were so invisible? I wouldn’t be hearing you talk about being invisible.

52 comments on “I am not invisible
  1. bodynsoil says:

    I didn’t get the memo either, I love being 50 and being part of the generation that is still breaking the rules of self definition.

  2. Donna Hanton says:

    Thanks, Carol. I agree with this, but need to remember it more clearly and more often. I don’t believe I’m invisible, but I am still a work-in-progress.

  3. Suzanne Gray says:

    Carol, you’re just awesome. Invisible is just a state of mind and you nailed it when you wrote “Think you’re invisible? Then you are.” That’s exactly how the world works.

    My kids are seniors in high school so I’m anything but invisible at the moment as everyone needs something from mom. But next year when I’m an empty nester, the world is going to be very different for me.

    Being invisible isn’t in my plans. I’m starting with that mindset now.

    Thanks for a great post.

  4. Carol, you are talking my talk! Well said!

  5. Mary Burris says:

    I didnt get the memo, but I’m thinking my body saw a preview of one. I have to keep reminding myself – Mind over Matter. I’m way too young for all of this that is happening to me.

  6. Jackie says:

    I’m with you, Carol. I feel anything but invisible.

    Again, I think it’s the media and the idea of underrepresentation where women over a certain age are concerned. Well, I guess that could be true, but I would also point out women like Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren, Judi Dench, Diane Keaton, Bette Midler — all still going strong, even at their “advanced” ages, LOL! Some of them (gasp!) are even what you’d call “sexy”! Yup.

    As with anything, it’s about how we put ourselves “out there”. Clearly, you, a woman who received four marriage proposals in her late 50s can attest that we can do so successfully.

    Once again you’ve written a great piece. Thank you.

  7. Carol, this provides a nice contrast to the flurry of articles a month or so back about how women become invisible with age. What I felt in response to those stories echoes some of what you’ve said. If we base our life, our self-esteem on what others see and we place a value on superficial beauty it might be a tough road. Being self-aware and taking positive steps rather than letting others define us is the key here. For me it is about acceptance and creating my own reality.

  8. Risa says:

    I find that making eye contact in certain situations makes a big difference. People see gray hair and assume a lot about me…but if I can make a connection with my eyes, person to person, it changes things. But in some situations, I am happy to be on the sidelines–it doesn’t matter as much to me anymore to be in the spotlight. Shifting priorities maybe. Doesn’t mean I still don’t shine when I want to! Thanks for speaking out on this.

  9. Lynne Spreen says:

    You are an oracle. Thanks for this.

  10. Karen says:

    The “women are invisible after 50” trope is another manifestation of misogyny. The idea that we are only valuable (and therefore visible) so long as we are of sexual value–that is, able to pop out babies–is just plain degrading to all women, not just the ones in our age bracket.

  11. Your question “to whom am I invisible…” is the key here.

    When women bemoan the loss of their youthful bodies and smooth skin, they are diminishing the real value of who they are, which is their experience, their confidence (hopefully), their sense of self. I am so bored with hearing about invisibility. If you think you’re invisible, you are.

    Great post!

  12. p.s. shared on my blog fan page.

  13. Carol Graham says:

    Oh PLEASE — can I be invisible? Please, can I? I am pushing 70 and launched a new career last year. I am busier than I have ever been which includes the years of raising my children while running a full-time business and home schooling my kids. When someone needs something, they know where to come – but I have also learned how to say “No”. (that’s a ‘good’ thing)

    I have absolutely no desire to retire or stop and am a very visible entity in many circles. I truly believe it is what keeps us young and as you said — it is ALL ABOUT ATTITUDE. I also believe that those women who choose to believe they are invisible have felt that way most of their lives, not just as they got older. I always encourage these women to learn how to love themselves and it helps them – a lot.

  14. donna says:

    I am seriously praying for this kind of confidence as I approach the big 5-0 this coming year.
    I think I am my own enemy with this because *I* have allowed myself to be nearly consumed with my role as mother, home-educator, wife, caregiver…anything but just Me-the unique individual that has a lot to offer the world in my next 50 years.
    Very much looking forward to what inspiring endeavors you have coming up :0).
    As always and thought provoking and challenging post!

  15. WendysHat says:

    I didn’t get that memo either. I agree with you. Obviously it wasn’t from any of us who are actually loving and living a full and happy life after 50. I live a life that makes all of my younger friends jealous!

  16. Mary says:

    So many women I know seem to have given up on life when they hit their 50s. It’s sad, very sad. I am loving this chapter in my life, I have more going on than I have in the last 20 years. Here’s to our 50s and beyond!

  17. I must have missed that one too! I’d actually love to be invisible for about a week that would be heaven!

  18. I wrote about this as well, after the whole Cafe.com thing but I had to wait a couple of days for the anger to cook off first.

    As much as it insulted me to be spoken for by accomplished women placing so much stock in their appeal/youth, it angered me that this suggests to our daughters that they can expect to outlive their place on the planet by about thirty or more years.

    Marginalization is as self-fulfilling as anything, in my opinion.

  19. Ruth Curran says:

    Yes, you can leave me off that memo distribution list permanently!

    You said something that really got me thinking. You said: “If you know who you are, you don’t have to let anyone–including society–define you. Because you have defined yourself.”
    Let’s push that a bit. Don’t let anyone – including society – define you period. Such an important reminder especially if you don’t quite know who you are right now, where your path will lead you next, or if you are in the process of defining yourself at this moment. That is a vulnerable time and one where we might start to doubt that we know best. We do know best and we have to trust that. You know what I am getting at here?

  20. Invisible?? Hardly! There are plenty of us (you and I included!) who disprove that theory on a daily basis.

  21. Ruth Curran says:

    Almost forgot, I do want to be on the memo distribution list for the “new business idea” that you will be implementing in 2015!

  22. What’s that you hear? It’s the long round of applause clear the way from San Diego to you. And yes, I am also hollering, SAY IT, SISTER! You are so right, that which we choose to give power to, gets it. And the mind is a runaway train for better or for worse, so why not choose the better? Invisibility? Not a chance.

  23. If only I knew back then how happy I would be in my fifties. I would have less wrinkles because I would have worried a lot less!

  24. If only I knew back then how happy I would be in my fifties. I would have less wrinkles from worrying so much about the impending doom that never happened!

  25. I didn’t get the memo either, but I see ALL OVER THE PLACE that women are upset about this. Which is nuts. You say it best: “If you know who you are, you don’t have to let anyone–including society–define you.” Thank you for putting that out there. Let’s hope those invisible women see it and rejoice!

    • This is going to sound really harsh, but I see way too much whining from women in our cohort. If you are past midlife and still insecure, you need to find a good therapist before time runs out. Because you’re wasting your beautiful life.

  26. I’m with you. Not invisible at all! I think this is a state of mind more then a reality. Either way I think between the two of us we could rule the world. And should.

  27. Okay, I agree with you 100%. None of us are invisible. It is an overused trope–a trite trope!–that has become the shorthand (i.e., lazy way) of articulating how different life feels now from the days when we were all about becoming. We are not in a state of becoming now; we are in a state of being. That means, I think, that some parts of our culture which gave us relevance when we’re younger are no longer viable for us. So I don’t think it’s that we’re “invisible”; I think that we are, in terms of mass culture, irrelevant. But then, mass culture is for many of us irrelevant as well. I think Erickson wrote about this in his stages of adulthood. Maybe I’ll go back and have a look.

  28. Amen to all of this, Carol! Approaching my 50’s I started hearing this, but wasn’t sure I got it. Now, having crossed that line +1, I really don’t get it. In fact, the older I get, the more visible I feel. Invisible-shmisible. Let that be someone else’s reality because it sure ain’t mine!

  29. chuck house says:

    it works the same for men, maybe in their sixties. Listening to 80 high school alums at our fiftieth reunion talk about nothing for three hours, I was surprised when our class prexy said “clearly we need to rethink voting for Chuck as most likely to succeed–he still is working, and all but two of us have retired.” A month later at a gathering of 41 college cohorts (40 with PhDs, and six of seven spouses with PhDs, thus leaving me to talk to the one ‘unsuccessful’ woman), the coup de grace was our leader intoning that he learned “tonight that three of you aren’t working–what’s the matter, couldn’t you find something interesting to do?” Twenty miles and seven light years apart in attitude.

  30. Carolann says:

    I just read this out loud to my sis on the phone. Everything you said was spot on! Going to forward and tweet as well. Awesome post! xo

  31. YEAH! I feel more visible and vibrant now than I did when I was younger. I definitely feel more invincible than invisible!

  32. Melody Grell says:

    Frankly, I am glad I am not as visable as I was when I was in my early 20’s fearing and obsessing about what men (or women for that matter) felt about me, my looks, my personality or anything. At this point of my life, although I am not thrilled with looking older, I love they way I can do or say almost anything I want. It is liberating and I am happy I am no longer a sex-symbol. I am happy to wear tailored clothes, get rid of the curling iron, put the glasses back on and kick some ass. Sure, it is the writing that helped me find that I was never understood what I wanted out of being a woman. Sure I wish I found my comfort some earlier, but there it is. I like being able to work with men as an equal, and not worry if they want to have a flirtation. It is liberating. 🙂

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