As Editor of an online magazine devoted to lifestyle and culture for the hip:) +50 set, I've realized I need to address the widespread issue of older women feeling they've become 'invisible'. As their 'looks fade,' older women feel they seem to be fading along with them, right into thin air.
And I get it. I know that as a younger woman one gets habituated to guys checking you out, sending inquisitive, approving glances your way, if not straight out cat calls (although the (feminist) cat seems to have got the tongue of the guys who used to do that). And then one day you notice that this hasn't happened in a while. And then you start surreptitiously glancing at men to see if it's really true, that you have indeed gone invisible.
The issue here is manifold. First -- Consider what it is that you're missing out on. Let's look at this phenomenon of not being seen: seen by whom and due to what? Are we not talking specifically about being seen as desirable? Or rather as an object of desire? Get real, ladies. You know who you are and there ain't no shame in it. We're wired that way.
Second -- take a moment to adjust. Clearly you don't really see yourself as an object. But you do want to be seen, not necessarily as 'viable' or 'attractive', but rather worthy of attention. And that's not a female thing, that's a human thing.
Third -- So if you're not feeling it, is this not really a two-way street? What exactly are you projecting? If you want to attract you need to radiate. If you want to have your attractiveness appreciated, then consider wherein it lies. To my mind, what is truly attractive (not just to men, I'm talking even babies and dogs) is energy, humor, and joy. Everybody needs more of all three. Personally, that's what I would want people to be attracted to. So have you in fact simply accepted the aging process as an excuse to drop out? If you were somewhat stylin' in your younger days, have you shuffled instead into muumuus and muted colors? Have you enabled your own vanishing?
For my money there are a number of strategies to re-materialize oneself. But first you need to take stock of the image you're projecting. Do you really want to forfeit an interest in fashion and cede it all to the younger generations? Nobody's saying to borrow your daughter's mini-skirt here, but come on ladies - the world is filled with stunning fashion, even at Target. If you want to be noticed, there are myriad ways to do so, from the cut of your hair to the rake of your boots.
One of my favorite style accoutrements is a fedora. I own at least of 8 'em (not to mention a trilby, a boater, a few pork pies and a homburg!) I gotta say, even if you're dressed in a t-shirt and jeans, that topper does wonders for your street cred.
By the way, since fedoras appear to be an item snitched from younger dudes (thank god someone revived them after the hatless hippie era) stealing their thunder immediately gets their attention. They wonder -- Damn! Who's that dame? "Awesome hat." they'll say. (And keep in mind -- the Fedora was first designed for women!)
Then there is all the amazing eyewear out there, just ripe for the picking. I'm not a big fan of zany red glasses on older women, but if that trips your trigger just do it and the rest of us be damned. I mean, really 'That's what it's all about!' Why should you even give a fig about the interest of callow youth? Or of the stereotypical old fart who imagines himself a catch for younger ladies? I'll tell you who will look at you, if you project a confident, happenin' self -- other young women. Yeah, that's right... They're dying to see older women staying in the groove, thrilled to see role models since they too are secretly worried about how long their looks "will last." So look at this as a way us older chicks can model their future. Get your act together, ladies. Show 'em how it's done.
But then again -- why does the gaze of the other have to hold such weight? Why isn't our gaze outward equally as important? Why is being seen any more important than seeing?Seeing with an unfettered intensity that could accompany this so-called invisibility. Which then brings up the question of who you're checking out. You too will look at hot young chicks, wistfully, guiltily... they're fair game. But how interesting are they after all? They're like embryos in some ways or gorgeous simulacra of the reigning fad. In fact, the truly interesting people out there are the older ones, those who have defined themselves in some unique way and who radiate that sense of accomplished selfhood.
So on top of all that - Why don't we do our sisters the favor of really recognizing each other? Why not choose to be more concerned with earning the honest and approving regard of our peers? The world is filled with fascinating older women who deserve our attention so, goddamned it, give it to them and earn it back. In the end, it's up to you to become visible.