When I talk to women my age, I hear a common story. They feel invisible. I am one of those women. Not only do we have to face the physical challenges of growing older, when we look in the mirror we don’t recognize the person looking back at us. Inside we are wiser than we were 30 years ago, outside our appearance is changing every day. To add to that, we feel vulnerable. We may be widowed, have an illness, our families may live far away and loneliness creeps in during the day and especially at night. It’s easy to feel invisible.
Have you ever noticed how a man will look right past you at the pretty young woman walking by. You’re invisible. Or how about the waiter who smiles at the young person ordering but barely looks up when it’s your turn to order. You are not seen or listened to. It’s easy to feel invisible in our American society where youth is worshipped and old age if feared.
In our country, we have approximately 53 million people over the age of 65. That represents about 16% of our population, or one in every seven Americans. This is why we are seeing more media marketing directed at seniors. However, the only people who look their age in these marketing campaigns are those featured in advertistments for senior homes. Most grey haired women who model for skin care products have had cosmetic surgery that makes them look 20 years younger. Seniors in ads for the copious variety of drugs we see on television every day, all look so happy and healthy as a voice recites the dangers one can experience while using the drug. These role models damage our self esteem and makes us feel even more vulnerable and invisible because we don’t look anything like the media’s portrayal of real people our age.
I have a photo on my nightstand of a smiling young woman with her two beautiful children. Someone visiting the other day asked “Who is that?” Someone who didn’t know me in my youth would certaily not associate that photo with the person standing in front of her. When I look in the mirror in the morning I hardly recognize myself either. It takes makeup, blush and eyeliner to even resemble the woman I was 50 years ago. With or without makeup, I don’t want to be invisible. Years of living life have earned me, and all of us, the right to be respected heard and seen.
So, women of grey hair and a certain age, let’s UNITE. The one thing age cannot rob us of is CHOICE. No matter what our circumstances, we ALWAYS have a choice. Do we want to be invisible? Are we invisible? NO! And NO! Look in the mirrow and tell yourself:
I am INVINCIBLE not invisible.
I am BOLDER not older.
I am DETERMINED not undermined.
I am EXTRAORDINARY not ordinary.
I am RESILIENT not rigid.
I am STRONG not wrong.
I am FOXY not flighty.
Let’s be heard. Let’s be seen. I see you and I like what I see!