Invisible Women Syndrome, is a real phenomenon. It’s basically a feeling of not being seen and it is often acutely felt by middle-age and older women. It’s not uncommon for women to say that the moment they turned 50, people stopped seeing them. Work colleagues don’t seem to listen to them as much in meetings, people push past them in line, retail clerks ignore them, and men tend to not notice them as much. Research confirms that even data ignores women over 50, focusing instead on women of reproductive age.
It’s important for us 50+’ers to recognize that feeling invisible is not a normal or natural part of aging. We have valuable contributions to make to society, our experiences and perspectives must be acknowledged and appreciated. BTW, if you haven’t read Nora Ephron’s book ‘I Feel Bad About My Neck’ – it’s a hilarious book all about this topic. A MUST read!
I have been on this soapbox forever but, unfortunately, little has changed. I was recently walking with a friend of mine who is in her 70’s today and she asked me a couple of questions about this phenomena and I thought I’d share my responses with all of you……
Why Do Older Women Feel Invisible?
- Ageism: Ageism is the discrimination or stereotyping of individuals based on their age, and it is particularly prevalent when it comes to middle-age and older women. Society often places a high value on youth and beauty, which can make 50+ women feel invisible or marginalized.
- Gender-Based Discrimination: Women may also feel invisible as they age due to gender-based discrimination. Women have historically faced discrimination and sexism in the workplace and in other areas of life, and this can continue as we age. As a result, mid-life and older women report feeling overlooked or undervalued.
- Changes in Physical Appearance: As we age, it is inevitable that our physical appearance will change – no amount of botox can make you look 25 again! This reality can lead to feelings of invisibility. Some women may feel that they are no longer attractive or desirable, which can impact their sense of self-worth and confidence.
- Loss Of Social Connections: As people age, they may lose social connections as friends, and family members pass away or move away. This can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness, which can contribute to a sense of invisibility.
- Cultural And Societal Attitudes: The media and popular culture often portray mid-life and older women as uninteresting, unattractive, or even irrelevant. This can perpetuate negative stereotypes and contribute to a sense of invisibility.
How Can I Feel Less Invisible as an Older Woman?
- Celebrate Your Accomplishments: As we age, it’s important to reflect on our accomplishments and the contributions we’ve made to the world. Celebrating our achievements can help us feel more confident and proud of what we’ve accomplished. It can also remind us that we still have valuable insights and experiences to offer.
- Connect With Like-Minded Individuals: One of the best ways to combat feelings of invisibility is for us to connect with others who share our interests and values. Joining a social club, volunteer organization, or other group can provide a sense of community and support and can help us stay engaged with the world around us.
- Stay Active: Staying physically active can help mid-life and older women maintain our health and well-being and can also boost our confidence and self-esteem. Consider taking up a new hobby or joining an exercise class to stay active and engaged.
- Advocate For Yourself: If you feel invisible or marginalized, don’t be afraid to speak up and advocate for yourself. This can include asserting your needs and preferences, setting boundaries, and standing up against ageism and discrimination.
- Seek Out New Experiences: Trying new things can help 50+ women stay curious and interested in new and innovative offerings. Consider taking a class, traveling to a new place, or trying a new hobby to expand your horizons and keep your mind active.
- Cultivate Your Relationships: As we age, it’s important to maintain and cultivate our relationships with friends and family members. Regularly connecting with loved ones can provide a sense of social support and belonging and can help combat feelings of loneliness and isolation.
- Challenge Negative Stereotypes: By challenging negative stereotypes about aging and women, you can help create a more inclusive and supportive society for all. This can include speaking out against ageism and gender-based discrimination and promoting positive representations of older women in the media and popular culture.
So here’s my question to all you mid-life and older women out there – the comment section is open….What Do You Do To Make yourself Feel Less Invisible?