Do Women in Their 50's Feel Invisible? Learn to Age With Grace
When Did Age Happen?
I've never taken myself too seriously, so this whole "invisible" middle-aged woman thing has taken me off guard. I was standing at the vending machine at work today and a much younger man passed by. I looked up at him and he at me as if he had seen.... well, nothing. His face was emotionless. He didn't even say "hi". It's my 51st birthday so maybe I'm feeling a little "touchy", but I'm just not sure when age happened. I suppose it was really quite gradual. A wrinkle here, an ache or pain there and then one day magically - I'm middle-aged and seem to have this strange super power that causes people to look right through me, past me, over and around me.
"Carla could fall face down in the mud and still come up smelling like a rose," a pastor once said. I was a skinny little blond with an infectious laugh and people wanted to impress me, help me, promote me and encourage me. Aging has been a hurtful, yet curious time for me. I can't tell whether I'm upset about aging or whether I'm just content. I can't figure out whether I'm on the verge of something new and cool or whether I've just given up. Am I useless or am I just focusing on what truly matters? Most days, I'm trying to figure out if I even care to answer life's questions anymore. It's good to have the pressure off, but in the same sense, something just feels stale to me.
Before you tell me to take a healthy dose of self-esteem or before I lose another iota of estrogen, please allow me to grapple just a bit more with this new reality.
Do you feel turning 50 has made you invisible?
Are We Invisible?
According to Barbara Hannah Grufferman, "5 Infuriating Fibs About Women Over 50", [Women] are part of the largest demographic in the history of the world. Every 7 seconds someone turns 50. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a projected 57.8 million baby boomers will be living in 2030, and over 55% will be women."
And so, concludes Grufferman, we are far from invisible. Women over 50 are in fact a force to be reckoned with. She debunks a lot of the myths surrounding older woman by saying, we shouldn't be ignored by advertisers, we aren't afraid of aging and contrary to a lot of what we hear in media, we can still rock a killer body if we work at it. Not only that, we're tackling life as our children age and go off into the world and some of us for the first time are using our freedom for good and making a difference in our lives and the world. In short, Grufferman says, " 50: It’s more than an age. It’s a movement."
Despite Grufferman's pep talk on aging myths, Tira Harpaz, Salon.com, points out some obvious truths that cannot be ignored, "Women are often defined and judged more harshly by their appearance and attractiveness, a feeling reinforced by a society in which magazine covers celebrate youthful feminine good looks and taut bodies often photoshopped to an unnatural degree."
Tracy Nesdoly, The Star.com, agrees, "Getting older signals the loss of a certain kind of power. Luckily for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The wolf whistles may have stopped but, if I am to be honest, I’m grateful for the silence..."
Is this the contentment they say comes with aging? Maybe finally, we're being recognized for who we are and not what we look like.
Harpaz sends the following encouragement to women, ",,,find places, organizations and people to whom and with whom we feel vital and alive, and if possible, look for ways to become leaders no matter our age."
Further encouragement for aging women is echoed by Arlene Schindler in the Huffington Post when she says,"A woman past 50 is experienced in giving and receiving pleasure; grateful when understood and appreciated. She is like a classic car, a fine wine, or an imported cigar. The engine hums, with a complex taste and a smooth relaxing smoke. It's a sharp, insightful and lucky man who can appreciate the passion, depth and beauty of a seasoned, sensual woman."
See aging isn't sounding too bad when you see it in this light.
Know Your Worth
So it’s the small victories that matter most as we age like a phone call from my daughter telling me that my tiny grandson has just told her, “My Gigi is perfect”. I love this little guy – what he sees goes deeper than what other people miss…. he doesn't just see the exterior, he sees into the heart.
I keep a sign above my desk that reads, “Make sure you don’t start seeing yourself through the eyes of those who don’t value you. Know your worth even if they don’t.” My worth is far beyond this slowly withering shell so it's time to embrace the adventure that growing older brings.
As I write, it was fifty-one years ago this day when my mother almost gave birth to me in the hospital parking lot. Today, I remember her with the sign of the cross and words of advice she passed to me from Eleanor Roosevelt, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent".
Invisible women of 50 - it's time to take heed!
More from Eleanor
Probably the happiest period in life most frequently is in middle age, when the eager passions of youth are cooled, and the infirmities of age not yet begun; as we see that the shadows, which are at morning and evening so large, almost entirely disappear at midday.
- Eleanor Roosevelt
Grufferman, B. H. (n.d.). 5 Infuriating Fibs About Women Over 50. 5 Infuriating Fibs About Women Over 50. Retrieved December 17, 2013, from http://www.innovativefinancial.com/newsletters/April2013/lg.html
Harpaz, T. (2013, June 5). Salon. Saloncom RSS. Retrieved
December 17, 2013, from
Nesdoly, T. (2012, January 4). At what age does a flirty, fun woman become invisible?. thestar.com.
Retrieved December 17, 2013, from
Schindler, A. (2013, November 7). Why I'm Over 50 And Not Going To Take It Anymore. The Huffington Post. Retrieved December 17, 2013, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arlene-schindler-/women-feeling-invisible_b_4151551.html