We all know that society treats women differently after a ‘certain age’. As younger women, many of us enjoyed the external validation that comes from turned heads, smiles or extra attention when we asked for assistance at stores. Even if we identify as feminists, it still feels good to go through your day like Marlo Thomas in ‘That Girl’! We may not even have realized how good this attention made us feel, until it was suddenly gone or reduced.
However, after about 50, there is often a feeling of invisibility around men, as if they don’t need or want to work for our attention any longer. Suddenly, we may have to wait longer at a counter to get help or go through an entire day with no banter with random men, like we had before. We notice this indifference, either deeply or on a surface level, relative to how dependent we were on men before ‘the change’.
Other societal messages can contribute to a feeling of questioning our relevance or roles at this time, including being replaced by younger workers, our kids needing us less than before or just a general feeling of being ‘out of the loop’.
As with most experiences in life, we always have a choice in terms of how we look at this. We can FIGHT or EMBRACE invisibility after 50.
Society teaches us to fight and struggle with getting older, to color our hair, spend $1000’s per year on face creams, antidotes to aging and gym memberships, all the while fading gracefully into the background in order to make way for the next generation.
huffingtonpost.com, salon.com and feministing.com have recently posted articles related to women and feeling invisible after 50. Some are angry and some offer hope about redefining ourselves.
Check out this thought-provoking piece written by Tira Harpaz:
My contention is that we can embrace this time as an opportunity to turn inward, free from the chore of gaining the approval of men or constantly focused on being of service to our families. In our ‘invisibility’, we can redefine what it means to be noticed and what we want to get noticed for. We can pay attention to ourselves, our own voices and find our lost selves. Let’s shift the paradigm of “middle age” on it’s ear and create our own 3rd chapter.