12 comments
  • Theresa Reid
    REPLY

    Hi there! I’m 65, and sometimes invisible, sometimes not. I dress with some flair and have platinum hair, so stand out when I want to, generally. But when I am invisible, I find there’s some power in it. It frees me to see, instead of focusing on being seen. I learn a lot that way about other people. I’m definitely with Kathleen, though, on speaking up when you feel invisible and don’t want to be. Make a joke out of it, if you’re in the mood. It’s a teachable moment, one that’ll be more likely to take if it comes with a dose of humor.

    Also, Sylvia — maybe this is a good time in your life to start building female friendships. I don’t know what I’d have done all my life without all my gal pals. I love them! Other women are a huge support in traversing this rocky terrain of aging while female in America.

  • Sylvia Biu
    REPLY

    Another thing, I no longer place myself in situations where I am likely to be ignored. I know in advance places and groups where I am likely to feel invisible. Being that I am very sensitive, I simply don’t subject myself to it. Sometimes, but not always, it’s better to stay in one’s comfort zone, even if it means one feels lonely. But what’s a lonelier feeling than being among people yet being alone? To be invisible is to be alone and, perhaps, lonely. We all need to be able to relate to people who share things similar to our experiences and situation. One is free to force oneself on any group of people one wants, but there sometimes comes a rude awakening, which hurts.

  • Sylvia Biu
    REPLY

    I’m also of the view that we should stay in our lane. Whenever I’m with people younger than myself, male or female, I feel maternal or grandmotherly towards them, as though I should mentor or offer guidance in some way. It’s similar to our children, with whom we shouldn’t be “friends.” Warm, cordial, polite, civil, etc., yes! But if an older man is friends with much younger men or women, even now, with all the other societal norms that are being thrown out the window, it’s frowned upon. Why should it be that older women should have “friends of all ages”? It’s silly, and there will be occasions when the difference in age will become stark. It is better to befriend people who are of one’s generation or no more than ten years one’s younger. That way, it’s easier to relate and share similar memories. I once had a conversation with a twenty-five-year-old in which caused me to mention a television show that was on well-before she was even born, and she was quick to say that it had to be a show that preceded her life on earth, which it was. Neither could she discuss with me the best feminine hygiene products for that special time of the month, since I’m no longer getting my cycle. She began the conversation, and then, looking into my face, stopped suddenly and changed the topic. I’m sure she shared the incident with a friend her age with whom she could chat about the best tampons and period pads on the market.

    I don’t think that young women are blind to older women because of fear for the future, when they, too, will be old (if they’re lucky). It’s simply a matter of being able to relate. When an old/older person tries to behave generations younger, she is in denial and purposely trying not to act her age. I wish that I could get on and off the bus with the same speed and comfort as someone much younger than I am, but I can’t. The “serenity to accept the things I cannot change” is a great and noble thing. Acceptance of our stage in life is a point of achieving a certain degree of peace.

    Having no other choice, we should be about embracing our age and being wise. Old age is not the time to become foolish because we wish things were other than what they are, so we try to force them to be what they are not. It is voluntary self-delusion which, if one is in one’s right mind, one will avoid.

    • Brigid
      REPLY

      While some subjects are certainly more relatable for similarly aged women, surely there is more to relate to another woman about than menstrual products and t.v shows? When I was younger I thrived on my relationships to older women, and still thrive on relationships to women older than myself. Indeed I enjoy relating to people of all walks of life. Certainly you are not obliged to, but there is a vast array of topics and human conditions to talk about with our fellow humans.

  • Blair Fielding
    REPLY

    Where older women are most invisible is in the world of the media. Just like Blacks recognized their beauty when Black is Beautiful was radiated back to them — we older women need to see naturally aging role models in the media, film, ads, etc. and know that Age, too, can be beautiful.

    Truth is men are allowed to age; women are not. We continue to be objectified by the culture. I look around and see amazingly beautiful naturally aging women — many more beautiful old women than old men. And perhaps a piece of that is because we have been valued for our youth and beauty and as a result take better care of ourselves. I don’t know — I don’t have the answers. But I totally understand feeling invisible as an old woman.

    Until the advertisers and media wake up and begin showing images of naturally aging older adults, especially women, many of us will continue to feel invisible. We need to see ourselves mirrored in the media with more images Annette Benings, Charlotte Ramplings, Judi Denchs, Maggie Smiths to begin to own and respect the relevance and beauty that comes with age. Jane Fonda as a role model for an 80 year old thanks only to extreme surgical enhancement is an insult to all of us….

    • Sylvia Biu
      REPLY

      Mentioning the menstrual cycle and an old TV show was just to make the point that on some matters, an older woman may be out of touch and can’t really relate to a younger woman, except to reminisce., unless on the recent past, not when the younger one may not have even been born But she can speak about female matters based on experience. I agree that, yes, it’s nice to be friendly with people of all ages. But it’s unrealistic to fail to acknowledge that if you’re an older woman among younger women, you’re going to be and feel the odd-woman out. You will feel invisible because the younger women can better relate to one another generationally. They speak a lingo an older woman might not understand and subscribe to more liberal views and social practices. Anyone can try to fit into demographics of which they are on the outside, and to an extent, they will succeed.

  • Sylvia Biu
    REPLY

    Also keep in mind that we’re not all the same, that some people age slower than others. You may be more attractive than another woman your age. But you should prepare yourself mentally for the time when that will no longer be the case. If you keep living, it’ll happen, trust me. There comes a time when it is incumbent on all of us to become less vain and find deeper, more spiritual values. The Bible speaks of age without wisdom, which we should all heed, as well as Ecclesiastes.

  • patricia mcmillen … pat@sisqtel.net …
    REPLY

    this article is somewhat simplistic…and it is irritating. i am 75. tho i did not grow up in the depression, my parents did and the effects of being raised by parents who also experienced ww2 profoundly affected my childhood. those elders who are older than i am experienced life at a more intense level. speaking for myself, the last 50 years held changes in civil rights, wars, education, and most explosively, the field of technology, pharmaceuticals and population density.

    as elders, our senses are diminished and the active generations of today, accustomed to fast paced dialog, have no patience or desire to slow down for us. being arbitrarily friendly may work for the nouveau elder but eventually isolation from inattention comes to us all… unless, of course, we are so wealthy the world dares not render us invisible

  • Kathleen Doheny
    REPLY

    Hi…I’m also a contributor to Senior Planet and found this while looking for my dental article to share with sources. I must stop and comment. With all due respect, I think some of these people are taking things way too personally.
    I’m over 60, single, still get asked out on dates, got flirted with at the bakery the other day by a handsome dude my son’s age and have friends of really all ages. I have never ever felt invisible. But I reach out–I talk to everyone, as a friend I traveled with recently noted. I’m friendly. I think some of this is more the woman’s issue–and believe me, I have my share of issues–than the people she
    encounters. The waitress? I think it was an oversight, pure and simple. I was a waitress once and it’s tough to remember everything! Why didn’t the woman say, right there, hey you forgot my order? Yoo hooo, here I am…Don’t I look hungry?
    I’m into don’t see drama where there is none! Hope this is helpful.

    • Sylvia Biu
      REPLY

      You seem to be in sync with what I, perhaps inartfully, tried to express. Eventually, age differences become keen, especially with younger people today. They don’t have the patience to deal with the elderly, and they certainly lack respect for us. When there are huge societal changes socially speaking, there is a tendency to spread it around to make it cover all social relationships. If age no longer matters (like gender or sexual orientation), then younger people interpret it to mean that they no longer have to respect older people, yet at the same time, age still matters to them and everyone else, or ageism wouldn’t exist. Just a few years ago, when I took a class with a majority of very young people, I wasn’t invited to attend the celebration of the end of the course. While it stung, I understood why, but I no longer attempt to socialize out of my age group.

      I’m sorry if I’ve annoyed anyone here by taking the conversation beyond the subject matter of the invisibility that many older women feel. I only did so because the article mentioned the instance when she was overlooked by a waiter at a restaurant while she was among younger women. What are the odds she would’ve had that hurtful experience if she’d been among her contemporaries? It also goes to the lack of respect for elders I mentioned above.

    • Sylvia Biu
      REPLY

      I’m over sixty as well, but the only visibility that concerns me has to do with the opposite sex. I couldn’t care less than other women find me invisible. I never had female friends to begin with, so I really don’t care very much about it now.

      You may not feel invisible to men now, but give it time: It’ll happen. No one stands still in time.

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