You ever wonder why so many jokes start with, "A girl walks into a bar?" That is because that is where the women go to receive the highest form of flattery. Never mind it may come from inebriated blokes who probably are hiding their wedding ring in their pocket; it is all about being noticed. "Can I buy you a drink?" Cue the giggles, the gushing, and the occasional pushing forward of the either endowed or Bombshell-endowed chest.
We buy outfits to go out in, we get our nails done, hair colored, eyelashes extended, spend time in a tanning bed, workout 6 days a week, bleach our teeth, buy the tallest shoes, learn to contour, suck in our tummies, wear Spanx, pick the most stylish jewelry and purses, spend thousands at MAC and Sehpora, and wax-tweeze-buzz-laser-shave and bleach whatever hair may or may not be visible that night. When our friends look cute and we feel frumpy...watch out. There is no way that I will have fun looking like a grouchy oompa loompa over in the corner while you procure all the good drinks and desperate men. Admit it, as drama-licious as this sounds, we've all been there in some way-shape-or sound.
What we don't bargain for is the day these things become difficult. When we can't get a discount or out of a speeding ticket because we aren't young and hot any more. Maybe we have a few crows' feet, a few extra pounds on our frames, the kids are in the back of the mini-van, and our usually perky boobies are hidden under the comfy hoodie and baseball cap we decided to slip on and get that extra 10 minutes of sleep. My mom has been telling me about the invisible syndrome for years now. She says that people just don't pay attention to her any more, and it is because she is no longer cute and young. "RIGHT, Mom, you are delusional," I'd think. I mean, heck, I am 35 and I still get help and I am not young and cute anymore. Just go up to the tire counter and get that discount and the extra help because you ARE cute, and you are a woman. We just get those things because of the sheer fact that we are women. I didn't listen and I didn't understand.
But do you know what? I've been learning lately that all of what my mom has been saying is true. Not just because of what I have personally experienced, but from what I have witnessed. I guess I have just been more in tune to this whole invisible phenomena. I see it at work. Being a high school teacher, I see the younger-cuter teachers get more respect. I hear the kids bitching about the "old" farts, and how there is no way they are going to listen to someone with one foot in the grave. In complete AWE, I realize I am precariously close to being completely disrespected, and how can I ever make it through 20 more years in this profession with dwindling respect as I age? I feel young and cute, but clearly, I am not in the eyes of the younger generation, and I am basically screwed if I want to continue to keep the respect I've worked for 11 years to get in my classrooms.
The sad thing is, as in tune as I have become from my own job, and honestly, even my own experiences as of late, we are not the only ones who think that with age brings invisibility. Amy Poehler in her hilarious book Yes Please said "Getting older makes you somewhat invisible. This can be exciting. Now that you are better at observing a situation you can use your sharpened skills to scan a room and navigate it before anyone even notices you are there. This can lead to you finding a comfortable couch at a party, or the realization that you are at a terrible party and need to leave immediately...Getting older also helps you develop X-ray vision. The strange thing is that the moment people start looking at you less is when you start being able to see through people more...Finally the phrase 'actions speak louder than words' starts to make sense" (Poehler 100).
So, I suppose us middle aged women (because I am middle aged in the eyes of society)need to get a grip and embrace our invisibly. We need to rock the fact that we are not in the spotlight, being judged by our clothes and most-sassy hair cuts. We need to enjoy our lives, and stop caring so much. We need to live in the moment, and enjoy not being under a microscope. The truth is, we all age, and inevitably, we will become less desirable to others. Maybe we need to start taking the things that matter as more of a commodity than our looks. Use our hearts and our minds to make a difference, and frankly screw those who think we aren't worth looking at. Sneak into that party, find our seats on that couch...people watch, have a ball, and relish that although we might be invisible to some, we are fabulous to others, and have a hell of a lot to offer! It's time to move forward from this youth-based society and rock our less than perfect selves! Be visible. Be strong. Be the woman you always wanted to be, and don't worry what others think!