It seems ironic that at this time of my life, when I have the greatest confidence in who I am, society is trying to write me off.
Unfair that this game change should come at the same time as my kids finally need less of me, and I have more time to develop my own interests, evolve and come to terms with this new fifty-plus version of myself; in my opinion, at a point in my life where I have the most to offer. Just as it isn’t a speedy process for the larva to develop into a butterfly, it has taken energy and considerable amount of education for me to feel confident with my newly developed wings. But I kind of like how they fit now. I have much more to offer – more to say, bigger thoughts to share and more confidence in my job and my talents.
I don’t feel invisible on a personal level, so if society is determined to push me behind curtains, I’m not going out without a struggle.
Although I admit that initially the middle-aged invisibility thing stung a bit – like when you’re at a bar and the short leather skirt sidles up next to you with way more in common with the straying eyes of the hipster barman than you do. But do I seriously miss being forced into cheesy, suggestive chit chat when all I want is a drink?
Not so much.
Do I miss the lewd glances and wolf whistles that men mistakenly believe to be flattering, but which at times were terrifying?
Not at all.
Am I waiting impatiently for the day some thoughtful young person offers me their seat on the train?
Kasey Edwards suggests in her piece for Daily Life, ‘I miss being sexually attractive’ that ‘in the defence of every other woman who is missing her hotness, the reason we lament the loss of our sexual currency is because for much of the time it’s our only currency.’
I disagree. I don’t miss being sexually attractive, because I still feel sexually attractive. Perhaps not to nineteen year olds…but seriously, why would I want to be?
Nevertheless, there is obviously some truth in her comment, even though the value of sexual currency must vary from job to job, because it certainly wasn’t a very valuable commodity during my stint in education, nor would it help in the job I do now. I do remember one office job, however, six or seven years ago, when I worked with female peers who were all a good fifteen to twenty years younger than me, and evidently ‘hot’, when I wasn’t so miffed about being overlooked by the men in the office, as irritated by being ignored by the ageism of my young female colleagues, who obviously judged me as too old to be fun.
It’s funny that society should want to hide me away at the exact time I’ve worked out who I am and my place within its narrow walls; during a period of my life when instead of burying myself away, I actually want to shout out ‘look at me!’ And in particular in relation to my personal style – which is way more polished than it has ever been before, aided by a new confidence that I never possessed in my twenties. Because it has taken time and experimentation to teach me to believe in myself, to understand what works for me now; which colour palette clashes with my Rosacea; which cut best draws the eye away from my muffin top.
And the best bit about being invisible is the thrill I get out of scaring the local school children whenever I go outside without make up on.