For a couple of years now I've heard that women over the age of 50 become invisible. I didn't pause to give this sentiment much consideration, because I don't feel invisible. I feel smart, successful, strong and beautiful. I thought, well, maybe I didn't understand, so I spent some time researching the origins of this theory.
I'm sure this kind of thinking has been tossed around for decades, possibly centuries, but it seemed to gain traction last year when an internet survey found that eight out of 10 women over the age of 50 think men no longer notice them.
Oh! I get it now. We're invisible to men. I love men, particularly the one I married, but I was like, who cares?
My first reaction was that it's different if you are in search of a partner. If it's true that older women are invisible to men, I'm glad I shopped early. Then I realized there are other life penalties for being ignored by men, who are often in positions of power. Being invisible can affect everything from how you are treated when you buy anything from a hamburger to a house, and being invisible can certainly affect your livelihood.
Some women might feel invisible, but I believe it's a choice. We allow ourselves to wallow in the pity party of lost youth. We look in the mirror, and it's hard for us to imagine that the person beneath this aging shell has the potential to transform and emerge confident and powerful and better than ever.
In the end, visibility is not so much about what you wear or the color of your hair but how you feel about yourself. Are you engaged in meaningful pursuits? Relevant conversations on important topics of the day? Are you committed to lifelong learning? Do you have hopes and dreams that will take your full commitment to achieve, or do you see middle age as the beginning of the end? Possibly a well-earned rest?
I choose hard work, relevance and confidence. I choose to be visible.