11 Oct 2017

Better Not Younger: Embrace The Invisible

Better Not Younger: Embrace The Invisible on vickiarcher.com

ali macgraw in the nozu cady gown by the row


There is a moment when we become invisible.
I remember mine.

It was a few years back and I was walking down the street with my two gorgeous daughters. The passing male traffic did what they usually do with the exception of me. I was blanked. Not in a nasty hurtful way but in an invisible way as if I wasn’t there. I was a person no longer of visual interest. My girls took no notice, just as I once took no notice, this time I did.


I will admit it did throw me for a moment – the loss of a wink, a smile or the occasional wolf whistle – I had come of age. Shocking really! Nobody ever imagines they will become invisible to the opposite sex – partners aside of course. And yes, I am talking in generalisations here but undoubtedly when we reach a certain age there is a subtle shift.


You know what? It is the VERY BEST thing to happen to me.



We are so much more visible to ourselves once we reach a certain age. Feeling invisible in public ways has grown my self-confidence and allowed me to be the woman I am. The focus is on the internals and not the externals; yes, I care about how I am perceived by others but it is more for my benefit. Being driven by external perception does not overly enhance confidence but the flip side is we work harder on the more important elements of self -growth.




What do you feel about this? Have you experienced the “invisible” moment?
This “better not younger period” of our lives, is one I find thrilling.

You see, I don’t really care a great deal about other people’s “winks” anymore – unless those people are important to me. Having a greater focus on health and fitness in both body and mind has freed up with this revelation; it was a “light bulb” moment that told me it’s time to work on myself and become the woman I want to be.


Seeing myself as invisible in the eyes of strangers was a great gift and allowed me to know what was important, what mattered and what I care about. I don’t feel invisible, I feel on fire with the future and the possibilities it brings.




 
Better Not Younger: Embrace The Invisible on vickiarcher.com

 

balenciaga shirt  ||  needle & thread tulle skirt (similar)  ||  church’s chelsea boots  ||  black jacket (similar)


Being invisible to others makes us highly visible to us and this is a feeling we want to catch, hold tight and run with.
This moment can be taken as a marking point and a defining moment in our personal growth. I did and I haven’t looked back.

Our lives can be about us. It is not selfish in any way; it is where we are. Our dreams and hopes, challenges and expectations can centre on what we want to accomplish and achieve. This is a glorious time in our lives and one to be embraced.


I am grateful for my “cloak” of invisibility and am only too happy to wrap it tightly around me and venture out into the world. xv



 

Ali MacGraw: Hardly Invisible

what she wore on location in new mexico for porter magazine

black dress (similar)  ||  mules  ||  tulle skirt (similar)  ||  white blouse  || cady gown  ||  blazer (similar)  ||  turtleneck (similar) ||  boots

 
 
images, ali macgraw photographed by pamela hanson for porter magazine

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42 Comments

Eva

Hi Vicki,
It was really uplifting to ready your writing, as I at the age of 47 am in some kind of midlife crisis at the moment. It is difficult to accept the fact that my youth is leaving me.
I would like to read more about this subject so if you have more to say please share..

Kindest regards,
Eva

Reply
Vicki

Hello Eva,

It is a very big subject and with so many areas for discussion.
Sometimes accepting my maturity is tough – there are days when the mirror is far from kind and my body is lacking in energy – but more often than not it is a very minor blimp. I love being older and everything that comes with that. Trust me, you will see. What we can and can’t do is a matter for the mind and I truly believe with willing health, all is possible.

Enjoy your 47, 48 and 49.. every day of them… but believe me 50 + is so, so much better :)

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Eva

Thanks Vicki! I will try even though I am sitting on an emotional rollercoaster nowadays ;)

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Taste of France

It is a relief not to be ogled by total strangers. But it can be annoying when trying to be served–waiters, shop clerks look right past sometimes.
The worst is the way people treated my mother. At 90, she had all her wits. But doctors would talk to me, not to her, as if she were senile. All kinds of people would talk to her as if she were a child, in a kind of sweet singsong. It was infantilizing.

Reply
Vicki

That would be annoying!
It is one thing to be invisible but another entirely to be treated like a child.

I am very good at getting attention when I need it though ;) ;)

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Pamela

So agree about the relief of not being ogled by strangers. As a shy young teenager I went out of my way to avoid walking past an Oz building site as the wolf whistles and invitations from the guys embarrassed me so much that I would try just to pretend I had heard nothing. Of course they’d just get even louder. Hence the avoidance. Now many years down the track I’m no longer shy and I ‘m so happy to be invisible to guys like this. Once worked for a couple of weeks during my Uni summer vacation at a pineapple cannery. As we walked down the ramp to the shop floor the guys were at the bottom grabbing us from all directions, and not just by the arms. The older women taught my friend and me to defend ourselves – kick shins, and elbow them. I was glad to leave and felt so lucky I didn’t have to spend my working life living with this kind of harassment. But it was a toughening up process. Unfortunately not many of Weinstein’s victims were in a position to respond with what he deserved.

I can also relate to your comment, ToF, on treatment of the elderly. Used to accompany my mother to her appointments with medical specialists. She was often treated in this way in her 80s. Even by a female gerontologist who should have known better. As we left my mother said “I don’t like that woman. I don’t want to go back”. I agreed.

Nowadays when walking with my beautiful DiL I’ve become invisible. But I don’t mind. It’s life. When I’m on my own (not very often, since his retirement husband accompanies me most places) at the supermarket or bottle store sometimes men still try to pick me up (despite my obvious age and flaws), but in a nice way. Have even had an offer from a charming Latin American artist that he’d like to take me to visit his home country and show me around and I could stay in his penthouse apartment/studio in an old French building in BA. He was quite serious, he knows I love travel and have never been to Latin America. So this was a great boost to the ageing ego. Best wishes, Pamela

Reply
Lyn

As 67 years young, I love the confidence that I now have. Take a look around – much of what I see are overweight, messy, poor clothing judgment – then I look at myself in the mirror – and I don’t feel that I look or feel 67. I find that wearing classic clothes, adding some bright colors, perfect grooming – and always smiling – it makes heads turn – at least I think they do!!! Look at yourself in the mirror – first not smiling – and then with a nice smile – the crinkles around your mouth disappear, Embrace yourself and keep on keeping on.

Reply
Vicki

Smiling is the very best.. for looks and for life… and one of our greatest beauty secrets of all time :)

Reply
Linda Boardman Kerr

Lyn, I feel exactly the same way about everything you said. I may be 64, but I am, in all honesty, usually better dressed and groomed than women much younger. I know myself and have refined my own look and am CONFIDENT finally!
I taught a sewing class several years ago, with 26 students I was teaching how to sew–it was crazy–and was constantly dashing around the room, trying to help them, when one student said, “Mrs. Kerr, why do you never smile?”
I glanced at myself in one of the several mirrors in the room and realized how unattractive my tensed-up frown looked, and TO THIS DAY, make an effort to smile. It, and posture, make a huge difference!

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Pamela Round

I am also 67, beautifully groomed, still in shape from going to gym and only slightly overweight, and i know exactly what makes suit me. I often get complemented on my appearance, though not ogled, which is the way I like it.
Pamela

Reply
Joanna

Hi Vicky
Yes, I had my ‘invisible’ about 6 months ago, or maybe that it is when I noticed it. Your article sums it up nicely, it has given me a chance to really focus on me and I have to say I am having a blast!

Reply
Vicki

It is actually an invisibility that leads to everything becoming so clear.. me too.. I love life and this stage and I wouldn’t sway it for anything. :)

Reply
Barbara

Hi Vicki, every time you walk by a reflection of yourself give yourself a wink…….it’s truly amazing if you keep it up 😉❣️ I believe that a woman who can love herself is sexy at every age and attracts love. Love you you.

Reply
Stephanie

Vicki this has to be one of my favorites post of yours. It’s funny when I turned sixty (now 65) I had about a minute of self pity knowing that another 60 years wasn’t in the cards. Funny by the time one understands and appreciates the “gifts” that Life has bestowed up on us we’re all grown up!
These past 5 years have been the best years in my life! No second looks…no whistles but I am confident and full of gratitude for the life that I am living! Like you let the looks and winks go to my three lovely daughters…for it’s their time now as they learn about life’s many Blessings! ❤️

Reply
Vicki

Yes, it is their time in a wonderful way… and ours too… it is simply different…
It does take time to “get it” doesn’t it? Maybe I am a slow learner… but I feel it’s only now I am starting to understand life’s many twists and turns.

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Lidy@FrenchGardenHouse

I actually think this is a huge benefit, as long as you are not totally ignored! Like you, Vicki, when I walk around with my two beautiful girls, it’s only natural that eyes fall on them. And it’s liberating. Like you pointed out, this is a glorious time in our lives and one to be embraced. I too have no problem at all getting attention, only this time around it is with my friendliness and smile. Being admired for one’s personality and core, instead of outward appearance is a good thing, no?
xo

Reply
Vicki

Absolutely, Lidy… we would never let ourselves be ignored, that’s a different state all together.
“Core” all the way :)

Reply
Ardith

Vicki, this is yet another spot on, eloquently written and timely post. Thank you.

I became aware of my own invisibility around the time I hit 50. It came as a real shock because during my 40s I had more young male attention than probably any time prior. It was pretty bizarre actually. Then bam, crickets were all I heard. Fortunately, I met my husband within three years after that. This wonderful man tells me I’m beautiful every single day. As it comes from a tall, dark, and handsome man (with a heart of gold), it means the world to me.

Now with my 50s behind me, I feel more content in my own skin than ever before. I agree wholeheartedly with you that it can be liberating. It can be leveraged to advantage. Then there is the freedom we insist on having when it comes to personal style…as your blog so aptly reflects.

I’d like to lift my glass in a toast to you and your equally stylish commenters. It’s always a pleasure to join you here. Cheers, Ardith

Reply
Vicki

Thank you Ardith, for your lovely comment… and I join you in toasting our fellow readers.
We are lucky to have wonderful husbands who make us feel not only loved but also beautiful.. not something I ever want to take as a given.. but something to cherish.

Reply
Diahann

I was also thinking about this subject, in light of the Weinstein debacle. At the ripe old age of 58, I feel joyously unburdened by the weight of worrying about being sexually harassed, sexually assaulted or sexually judged. As most women, I was cautiously aware of my safety in parking lots, on the street alone at night, and with men I did not know. Though I did not encounter workplace aggression, I did have unsettling and even aggressive propositions in my private life. The recent news of Weinstein reminded me of encounters I had and what I did to manage them. It reminded me of what my daughter faces out in the world everyday. So I am a happily invisible woman. Being invisible is so much better than being on guard or valued mostly for how we look to the opposite sex.

Reply
Vicki

What a debacle.. and such a sorry state of affairs.
Being on guard is never a great place.. being confident and self-assured is the only place to be :)

Reply
Julia

You’re right, I do feel much more visible to myself now at 52. I also finally like what I see!

Reply
Vicki

Me too… in the most part ;) ;)

All jokes aside, I also much prefer “me” and life now than I did in my late 40’s… Thank goodness all the indecision and second guessing is behind… :)

Reply
Angela Muller

Hi Vicki, this was such an important post. I first recognized the invisibility of age several years ago on outing with my best friend. She is and has always been a beautiful person, inside and out. Her outward beauty was so striking that it never went unnoticed. Fast forward to our sixties, walking down a street in NYC, with her glorious mane of red hair blowing in the wind, when a young man in his twenties, coming from behind, couldn’t wait to catch up to offer a smile of appreciation, which was already on his face. When he finally caught up and turned to face her, his smile quickly left his face as he raced on ahead. With a smile on her face, she turned to me and said, “Well Ange, I think we have finally arrived!”

Reply
Kat

My moment was when I visited the French Riviera at the age of 65 and quite frequently received admiring looks from male strangers. It was then realized I had not had that kind of attention from strangers for years in the US.

Reply
Wendi

Funny that you should write about this today! We are having an unseasonable run of fabulously warm weather, verging on the hot, here in Ontario, Canada this fall. I moved this year and the garden in my new home has suffered from major neglect…all it seems to me that I have done is to pull weeds! Anyway, I worked until really it was too dark to do much else last night and thought that I would pop out to the grocery store and get one of those BBQ chickens for my dinner. I had on the black leggings, striped black top and black sneakers on that I wore while gardening, threw on a denim jacket, minimum make-up, hair that I would wash later….anyway, as I am waiting at the checkout, the gentleman ahead of me says quite emphatically as if he might of recognized me “Hi! How are you?” he then proceeded to heap compliments on me, how nice I looked, how most women don’t take the time, really, you look great! The cashier looks at me and asked if I knew him (I am 61 just for the record) and I replied that I didn’t think so, that at first I thought that he recognized me from my store but I didn’t think that there was an acquaintance. She says, quite sadly, well, no one all day has said anything like that to me. I have to say, I bounced out of the grocery store with my chicken and toasted myself with my wine that I may be an older girl, but I still can flaunt what I still got!! Wishing all you older gals out there another run at visibility!!! I have to confess that it felt GOOD! Hahaha!

Reply
Adeline Olmer

Very thought provoking post Vicki,

I remember walking down the street when I realized that the attention I was getting was from older men. I had become invisible to younger men. It was a surprising realization since on the inside I was just the same.

I agree with your point about focusing on yourself.

As a French born women I know that the real secret to French women’s style is that they do not dress to please other people they dress to please themselves.

It is incredibly empowering to leave your home in the morning loving the way you look—after all we are how we feel. Walking down the street, feeling great with a big smile on your face attracts attention. People look because they want that feeling.

There is something wonderful about smiling at someone that looks at you just because you feel good no matter your age.

Thank you,
-Adeline

Reply
Ardith

I came back to read more comments and am not disappointed. You all offer such important insights.

Diahann, thank you for reminding me of what I do not miss about being visible. I was taught to always be on my guard, to always be aware of my surroundings. It became second nature, but it meant I was never entirely at ease. While it’s nice to be noticed as attractive, early in my career I hated being referred to as “the blonde” or “booth babe” (when, in fact, I was the marketing manager/director). I hated the cat calls and unwanted advances. A scary encounter with a stalker was another downside.

While it feels awful at the time–coming literally face-to-face with the loss of youthful beauty–Vicki and others here are testament to the fact that it does get better, much better in fact. Embracing your new beauty can make you happier than you imagined possible.

Taste of France, you note both the up and downside to the invisibility factor, which is why I plan on being feisty to the end. I pick my battles, but pity the fool who underestimates or ignores me.

Reply
Celia

Oh Vicki, you are a breath of fresh air and an inspiration to all of us! Thank you once again for your timely, meaningful, thought-encouraging words. I’ve had this same experience in the past year or two and it does give one pause… but you are right, in causes you to look inside at the more important things. So glad I found you Vicki!

Reply
Sue

I truly believe that now I am 65, when I come in contact with young men say 30-55, they like me for me. Several have said how superficial young women are. I have had renovations done a lot in the last 3 years on my home and I always offer tea,coffee, and sometimes home baking and we chat. Then they start to show me photos of their homes, and wife, holidays etc. I feel free to be friendly and so do men because I am (probably) not a potential conquest. Soem have become good friends, I even had one lovely man of 38 ring me on a Sunday and say “Hey D. you are a lovely loyal, nostalgic person like me. How about I become your second T. beach husband (we both love a certain beach)? That put a big smile on my face (I am assuming he had a beer or two first). Just to have that compliment, and needsay he has probably totally forgotten he said it! I have never mentioned it to him or anyone since, but it did boost my ego.

Reply
Jennifer

It is certainly heartening to read all your comments after absorbing your sensible words Vicki! I am 58 and that very same “moment” hit me not long ago, when I suddenly realised that I was not being noticed as perhaps I had in earlier years. My beloved still notices what I wear and how I present myself and always offers compliments and encouragement, so I don’t feel too agrieved, but it certainly does take you a little by surprise. After reading all your wise words I now know I am just part of the team…the power is with us all….it always has been, but now we just use it differently. Cheers to all

Reply
Jananne

At 50 I decided to embrace my aging naturally. I grew out my hair in all of its silver and white hues and began to own my age. At 59 I left my visability to become invisible on the African continent. Three years later I have never been more visible enjoying new cultures, new experiences, and my new life. Getting older can truly be getting better. I also appreciate your photos of the women of my youth (Helen Mirren, Lauren Hutton, Ali MacGraw, Annette Bening, Diane Keaton) all aging so beautifully and naturally!

Reply
Ann

Vicki, thank you so much for this post. And thanks to all the commenters for sharing their visibility/invisibility (and sometimes re-visibility) experiences. The great thing about “this age” (I’m nearly 72) is that I feel I can toggle the visibility/invisibility button at will. Sometimes I’m in the mood for interaction; other times I just want to be present and become a better observer. It’s the difference between being on stage and being in the audience.

At this marvelous time of life — a little wiser and still physically vital — I never want to be younger than I am now. Such an interesting phase of life this is. Many people never have this opportunity to grow as old as we are or, with good fortune, may become. We must treasure this gift.

Reply
Alison

I am 63 years old and I think I look pretty damn good. I wear my makeup well and dress well. I work full time in the legal field so my mind is still sharp yet every day I am invisible. On the train to and from work I am pushed aside and ignored whilst seats are offered to women way younger than myself. I guess I must look super young! Young people both men and women are often served in shops before me yet I am the one with the money to spend. The clincher was a couple of weeks ago when I was looking at carpets which incidentally I would pay for when the salesman said “Love why don’t you come back on the weekend with Hubby”. Really? Guess which floorcoving store I won’t be purchasing from?When did it all time to this?

Reply
Pamela

I remember a similar experience shopping for a new car for myself. I went with my husband to a well known car brand dealership to look at possibilities. I told them this car was for me. The two men we saw addressed my husband alone all the time. Asking him if he had any questions, etc. Finally in frustration I intervened, looked them both in the eye and said “this is my car. Not my husband’s. I am buying it. I am choosing and I am paying for it – not my husband. Why don’t you speak to me?” They both looked embarrassed and then continued to address my husband, not me. So I stood up and walked out. We went to another brand dealership. This time two men addressed us both – but particularly spoke to me as I’d told them I was buying the car for myself. Guess where I bought my car? Until that time we’d always bought the other brand. But never again in all the years since. Both were Japanese brands. Interesting the difference. Whenever we have any joint business meetings, including with stock brokers, I tell the people up front that my husband and I make joint decisions and that if they don’t feel they can deal with a woman equally then we’ll go elsewhere. I will not be the “little woman” or their “love”. They’re learning! If they don’t, we don’t do business with them. My husband absolutely supports me on this. It really does seem to be improving – and I quite enjoy playing the “grande dame” for them, if necessary. Best wishes, Pamela

Reply
Marla

Here’s what I’ve learned at 68. Grooming and a sparkle in the eye seeme to put me back to visible! No not to the 30 somethings but older gents. I think because so many women “checkout” when they aren’t at an ideal weight or notice wrinkles or sagging they give up. DONT. Life is great. Love the way you look in your own mirror then go out and enjoy life!! So many bad tee shirts and cropped pants un groomed faces and hair. Heck you will stand out like a beacon! Thanks Vicki for your inspiration!!

Reply
Michele

Hi… I remember my moment, I felt so hurt and unwanted in a strange way….it was awful if I am being honest. After about a week of telling myself it was ok and then getting angry at myself for being so shallow, I started to find the gift. The gift of finding myself…my real worth…of no longer looking to others for my answers. Everything I need I already possess inside I just didn’t know it. At this age of almost 66 and being a widow I am growing by leaps
and bounds in ways I never imagined. I don’t feel selfish…. I feel liberated!!!

Reply
Terry

I’ve never appreciated the ogling of strangers, as being the object of a biological imperative felt more impersonal than flattering. Some of that is cultural – I recall in my twenties the immense relief of returning to the U.S. from Italy and being able to sit on a public bench without immediately drawing a swarm of would-be lotharios. At the age of 60 I feel more visible, as a human being, because I never defined my visibility through the eyes of young men. That being said, I do value appreciation of my effort to present an attractive appearance, so I was both surprised and pleased when a young stranger recently commented in passing that I looked really nice. His sweet gesture reminded me that a compliment is a gift we can give at no cost to ourselves, but of great value to the recipient. I agree with the lady above who said she could “toggle” her visibility, depending upon how she presented herself. I’m really enjoying this age.

Reply

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