I’ve been a big fan of Patti’s blog, Not Dead Yet Style, for a very long time. She writes with tremendous warmth and insight about everything from trends and shopping habits to self-esteem, feminism, and the media. And, of course, she speaks passionately about how older women can feel pushed aside, dismissed, and virtually invisible. I asked her to give some background on why she has made herself a champion for visibility, and she sent me the following fabulous post.
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I’m honored to be guesting for Sally. Her commitment to positive self-image for women is a beacon in the blogosphere, and an inspiration.
Sal suggested I write about the origins of my site’s Visible Monday weekly link-up. Visible Monday started as a response to feeling like an Invisible Woman after un certain age. I came up with the idea of a “Visible Day” for readers, in which we’d post an outfit, accessory, lipstick color, hairstyle, etc. that especially expresses our Joy of Being (Physically) Visible.
The Invisible Woman post originated on one of my trips to NYC, a place I love for its vibrancy and diversity. At the seasoned but Not-Dead-Yet age of 56, I’d started to notice that I was no longer . . . noticed. I wrote this post about it when I got home: The Invisible Woman
Common wisdom holds that at a certain age, women no longer garner the attention of men in public. We are still loved by our husbands and partners and told we are beautiful, but the world at large no longer sees us as noteworthy. I am not agreeing with this wholesale, just reporting what is commonly tossed around in popular literature.
While in the big city last week, I found myself rather invisible. There’s nothing bad about my appearance. I look good without looking “hot.” I have good posture, crazy curly hair and, most of the time, sport a cool casual outfit. But no one looked at me. I mean “looked” at me, as they used to when I was in my 20’s, 30’s, even 40’s. As a feminist, I am supposed to be happy about this, as I am no longer a sexual object for men to lust after. Hooray, right?
May I confess to a tiny bit of grief for the loss of lust-worthiness? May I still keep my good-feminist card? Is it sheer vain foolishness to miss the double-take, the furtive glance or secret smile? I have good self-esteem, based on my innards. I’ve accomplished a lot and have a husband who adores me. I have never been model-beautiful (only about 2% of us have, and at what cost?) and I know whatever physical charms we have will inevitably change if we’re lucky enough to grow old.
I’m doing some reading (this and this among others) this week to help adjust my thinking about the Invisible Woman. I am truly happy to be the age I am, to be healthy and productive. I still enjoy gilding the lily too, or I wouldn’t be sharing here, and reading so many talented fashion bloggers. Growing up and growing older is not for sissies, indeed. The trade-offs must be accepted and savored.
Based on responses to this post, and my own gut-check, I determined to be Invisible No More. I invited my readers to join me in a celebration of visibility.
We can’t all be young, model-thin, rich fashionistas. But we are all worthy of esteem and confidence.
I have been so exhilarated by the response to Visible Monday, and thrilled to meet bloggers from New Zealand, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Canada, the U.K., and all over the U.S. Twenty-somethings through 70-somethings share their unique beauty. Because there is no ticking clock on Visibility. We’ve got it already, we just need to claim it.
Image courtesy Seasons.