I was at a friend's 50th birthday party the other night and we were all having a jolly time… until the subject of invisibility came up.
"It's been a real shock to the system," said my birthday-girl buddy, a gorgeous redhead with a willowy frame. We've only been friends for 6 or 7 years but I think she looks better than ever.
Still, she says she has to pinch herself in social situation to see if she's even there. I was confused.
"I'm a freaking redhead. I've spent my whole life being seen," she says. "But a few years ago I realized that I might actually be an apparition. That perhaps I actually did die and the only others who talk to me are also dead. I even darkened my hair a bit because I feared that my hair color was so washed out that it contributed to my not being there."
Do other friends of yours not feel this after turning 50? She asked me. She said she'd discussed this feeling of invisibility after one's 50th birthday with friends of hers on a girl posse trip this last summer. Most didn't have the same experience.
I'm not saying that I was some sort of magnet, but I was able to meet and talk to males in social settings in the past. Now that's just a chapter in my history."
Actually, she was a magnet. My friends and I tried to take lessons from her. But I don't see how that's any different now, although I don't see her in those social settings anymore since she moved to another city for a new job.
She also got a haircut. I couldn't help wondering if that was part of it. You know what they say about long hair vs. short hair.... But this style suits her face so much better. The long hair was starting to make her look drawn.
But I have heard the plaint about invisibility before. The Best of Everything After 50 author Barbara Grufferman explored the topic in a Huffington Post blog called 'Feeling Invisible?', with readers weighing in on how they feel about it. Her conclusion is that midlifers have huge purchase power and should use it.
But beyond getting attention as consumers after your 50th birthday and beyond (that part is working I think), how do you handle that personally?
A fantastic anthology, In the Fullness of Time: 32 Women on Life After 50, has a number of essays addressing this topic – many of them laugh-out-loud funny.
Another friend/colleague/fellow traveler on this road called Life, author Amy Ferris (Marrying George Clooney: Confessions of a Midlife Crisis) is also celebrating a 50-something birthday. She asked her beloved husband the other day if she was looking older, more wrinkled, more creased.
He looks at me, … and he takes my face is his hands and … he says, yeah sure, I've seen more beautiful, ... but I have never ever seen more radiant. You glow, he tells me. You frickin' light up a room."
Wow. Hence "beloved husband". That is visibility.
How do we nurture visibility after turning 50?
Love helps. Satisfying work helps.
My turning-50 friend is having a big double blow-out party with her longtime significant other who's the same age.
I have record albums hanging all over the house, lava lamp, bean bag chair, Saturday Night Fever album and other classics, a modified disco ball, and a '70s themed menu!"
Fun helps. Enjoying your life helps.
We'll be exploring this topic more in the months to come. Because I have an idea (I wish I could do a little smiley face emoticon here, but that would be childish. Ahem.).
In the meantime, tell me – do you feel invisible after turning 40? Turning 50? What do you do about it?
Ways to not feel invisible:
Women: Inspiration & Enterprise
Now Women are EPIC
Love You With a Sense of Purpose
Style & Substance: Donna Karan's Beauty Rx
Top 10 Tips to Keep You Young
Go Dancing Without Pointy Shoes
Jane Fonda Is a Virgin
How to be voluptuous