If you are a woman over the age of 40, it is likely that you have heard of the phenomenon of feeling ‘invisible’ as an aging woman, no longer getting the attention you once did, no longer feeling relevant. Books have been written on this topic, and some movies have addressed it with humor (Grace and Frankie, though I have not seen it)…There’s clearly a difference between what we as society values in men vs women. For men, it’s generally power and success, for women it often comes down to appearance and attractiveness. Unfair but a reality. Doesn’t seem to matter that women now hold positions of power and enjoy substantial success, this invisible syndrome still exists as women age…
Maybe subconsciously we want to be invisible! Ok, that may be a slight exaggeration, but think of it this way: if you are over 40 there is a good chance that you are married, raising a family, and perhaps juggling a career as well – what time (for self-care) is left for anything else? And while a woman in her 40s and beyond surely wants to feel desirable/attractive, there are stages of our lives when other things take priority. I remember feeling somewhat invisible in my late thirties, in the midst of raising two children while also working as a nurse. Fast forward to the present. At the ripe old age of 64, I do not feel invisible anymore – YET – surprise, surprise – I would not attribute it simply to physical appearance or outfit choices.
What is the secret to feeling ‘visible’? Confidence, being fully engaged in life, and taking care of yourself.
There is nothing more attractive than someone who is happy, adventurous, and interested in the world around them…someone who smiles often, and who is comfortable enough in their own skin to engage in conversations with strangers – yessiree, despite what momma taught you! It is not about being young, not about having a perfect body, the prettiest hair, or the highest heels…a ‘Barbie Doll’ appearance can only go so far – what is most attractive is how your ‘energy’ affects others, and how you make them feel.
One of my favorite women to follow on Instagram is Stacey, @hotflashesandboardingpasses…she is a digital creator who lives, works, and plays in Tulum, Mexico…middle-aged and full-figured...she explodes with positivity, confidence, beauty and such a joie de vivré! She is also hilarious…THIS combination is what I consider most VISIBLE. (Check her out!!!)
Now let’s talk about how to build that confidence and boldness for life…this is where it may take a bit of effort…it may also mean leaving your comfort zone…
When you look in the mirror, do you like what you see? Or, are you thinking that you would you rather avoid the mirror? :-0 Starting with your hair: when was the last time that you changed your hairstyle or hair color? And if you are ‘embracing the gray’, are you doing so because you look gorgeous with white/silver hair OR are you doing it because it’s easier? How about makeup? When was the last time you updated your cosmetics and how you apply them? Stay with me , I’m not done yet!!!
How do you feel about your body? Do you exercise and eat healthy or have you given up because of the challenges and changes due to menopause and child-rearing? What’s your energy level like? Do you find yourself happiest when on the sofa watching Netflix with a bowl of ice cream?
And lastly, does your wardrobe spark joy? Do you routinely update your closet or are you still wearing styles from twenty years ago – how about your underwear? When is the last time you updated your bras and undies?
OK. You must be wondering why I am focusing on hair, makeup, fitness, and clothing when earlier I said that feeling invisible is not simply about physical appearance and clothes. It’s not, but there is a connection. Here’s the secret: when you look good, you feel good. When you look good and feel good that leads to confidence. When you look good, feel good, and are confident, you are much more likely to accept invitations or even initiate new activities and/or adventures on your own.
This is your one life. Whether you are in your 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s or beyond, there is no need to feel invisible. Take a good look at yourself starting on the INSIDE – are you happy??? Have you settled for routines that no longer interest or excite you? It’s completely up to you to change those routines and perhaps pursue a new career or hobby…regardless of whether you are single or married, working or retired, your day to day activities should excite you in some way and only you know what that is…
The second step is to look on the OUTSIDE. If you don’t like what you see in the mirror, do something about it! It need not mean spending thousands of dollars, but it does mean committing to efforts which could be life-changing. Age, my friends, is just a number. Do what you love. Wear what you love. Be happy. In the words of Audrey Hepburn, “Happiest girls are the prettiest girls.” Invisible? No way!
Would love to hear your thoughts!