Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Pros and Cons of Being Invisible

I began to notice my invisibility a few years after receiving my AARP card. As I saw each new wrinkle as it appeared on my face, I realized that I was fading further and further away on the world’s radar screen.  

As the years pass and we grow older, women start to see themselves becoming invisible. We’re not in the desired demographic of advertisers, unless it is for hearing aids, geriatric medications or Depends. And employers are trained to view both men and women over the age of fifty-five as not suitable.

On any street eyes will naturally turn to the young and stylish or the young and outrageous. So we pass by unnoticed. Sometimes that’s a good thing. No longer do I have to cringe when I pass by a group of construction workers taking a lunch break. The ogles and whistles are years in the past.

Over the past couple of months my friend Robin and I have been meeting in Manhattan to attend talk shows. The tickets are free, of course, so it’s an inexpensive way for us to get together and catch up while we wait to enter the television studios. Most of the audience – as you’d expect – are women. The sprinklings of young and attractive women in stylish outfits get the front and center seats. Robin, who has beautiful white hair, and I are usually delegated to the back row. That’s fine – I don’t need to be up front. These seating arrangements, however, are to me an obvious indication that our older faces are not what the show’s producers or advertisers wish to see when the camera swings to the audience.
While we older women may not be quite as visible as we once were, however, our voices remain strong and vibrant.
I love Robin’s take on this:  “I think being invisible is good.  That’s why I'm coming back as a hummingbird so anyone who crapped on me will have the favor returned but never see me coming.”