The invisible woman, revisited. It’s been just over ten years since I wrote a post about women becoming invisible in our later years. Is it still relevant? Here it is, with minor updates:
Common wisdom holds that at a certain age, women no longer garner the attention of men in public. We are still loved by our husbands and partners, and told we are beautiful, but the world at large no longer sees us as noteworthy. I am not agreeing with this wholesale, just reporting what is commonly tossed around in popular culture.
While in the big city a few months ago, I found myself rather invisible. There’s nothing bad about my appearance. I look good without looking “hot”. I have good posture, crazy curly hair and, most of the time, sport a cool casual outfit. But no one looked at me. I mean “looked” at me, as they used to when I was in my 20’s, 30’s, even 40’s. As a feminist, I am supposed to be happy about this, as I am no longer a sexual object for men to lust after. Hooray, right?
May I confess to a tiny bit of grief for the loss of lust-worthiness? May I still keep my good-feminist card? Is it sheer vain foolishness to miss the double-take, the furtive glance or secret smile? I have good self-esteem, based on my innards. I’ve accomplished a lot and have a hunky husband who adores me. I have never been model-beautiful (only about 2% of us have, and at what cost?) and I know whatever physical charms we have will inevitably change if we’re lucky enough to grow old.
I have done some reading (this and this, among others) to help adjust my thinking about the Invisible Woman. I am truly happy to be the age I am, to be healthy and productive. I still enjoy gilding the lily too, or I wouldn’t be sharing here, and reading so many talented fashion Instagrammers and bloggers. Growing up and growing older is not for sissies, indeed. The trade-offs must be accepted and savored.
“It didn’t work,” said the King. “The cloak of invisibility didn’t work.”
“Yes, it did,” said the Royal Wizard.
“No, it didn’t,” said the King. “I kept bumping into things, the same as ever.”
“The cloak is supposed to make you invisible,” said the Royal Wizard. “It is not supposed to keep you from bumping into things.”
“All I know is, I kept bumping into things,” said the King.”–James Thurber
Have you ever struggled with feeling invisible? Younger readers, is this something you think about, or are you more bothered by unwanted attention now?
Stay fabulous, xo
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