I Will Not Be Invisible

Posted on December 19, 2010


When Life in he Boomer Lane and her friends decided to write a book about women over 50, LBL asked a lot of women her age what sucked about getting older.  She expected to hear the sagging/bagging/dragging thing or maybe the memory thing or maybe even the empty nest thing.  She didn’t hear any of that.  What she heard over and over was “I feel invisible.”  Well, you could have knocked LBL over with a pair of sensible shoes.

LBL could relate to these women.  She remembers certain events in her life vividly: Her first kiss. The day John F Kennedy was shot.  “Going all the way.”  Her college graduation.  Her first wedding.  The births of her three children.  The day she became invisible.  Her second wedding.  The day her grandson was born.

Whoops, back up.  LBL remembers the day, no, the moment, when she became invisible.  Walking down the aisle at Safeway.  Man coming toward her.  Man passing.  Her brain registering   He never saw me.  She doesn’t mean he didn’t oogle her.  She means HE DIDN’T SEE HER.  LBL wasn’t composed of molecules that took up any space in his world.  Had someone asked him if he had passed anyone in the aisle, he would have said “No.”

It was a real turning point for her.  She never had to think about her visibility before.  It was just sort of there.  But from that day on, she didn’t take visibility as a given.  She made sure she looked people in the eye and smiled when she passed them.  She spoke up when sales people started to deal with other customers when she had been there first.  She no longer allowed people to cut in front of her in line or to take a parking space she had been waiting for.  And she got rid of all the long baggy jumpers she had been wearing, just because they were so comfortable.  In other words, she began to think about how she was going to be visible in the world.  The result was incredibly energizing.

The conclusion she came to was that being visible had little to do with youth or sex appeal.  It came from a feeling of empowerment, and from a belief that she should be noticed.  There’s a commercial on TV now that shows a woman all dressed up, coming down the stairs.  The voiceover says “It’s (whatever the product is) the difference between ‘I’m here’ and ‘Here I am.’”  That pretty much sums it up for LBL.

All this is not to say that there aren’t times that she chooses to be invisible, to fly under the radar.  Sometimes, under the right circumstances, that can be liberating and/or comforting.  And, at other times, it allows her to get away with things, like standing in line at the checkout, eating the nuts that haven’t been weighed yet (Now Husband hates when I do that.)  Visible.  Invisible.  She simply wants the choice.

 Note to Safeway Guy:  If they ever share the same aisle again, LBL bets you’ll notice her.