I began to realize I had acquired a cloak of invisibility when it came to men a few years before I turned 50. I was no longer on the receiving end of the prolonged glance, the admiring wink, or, hell, even an acknowledgement I was in the same breathing space as a male of the species.
This stirred some very strange emotions in me: Was I no longer attractive? Did I really look that bad? Over time, this began to change my personality. I no longer waltzed into a room like I was announcing "Here I am, lucky world!" but began to almost feel apologetic for taking up space where a super-hot infant of age 20 could be standing.
Yoga pants and my hair in a ponytail became my uniform for everything. I no longer looked people in the eye and smiled at them for no reason other than to make their day better. I stopped writing because nothing seemed really funny. I felt dull and lifeless. I had lost my Sassy.
For a visit to a local winery with my gorgeous 21-year daughter, I managed to pull my shit together and looked right cute in my leggings, tall boots, and leopard print sweater. My hair was awesome and I had gotten the stamp of approval from my way-too-honest daughter.
We sauntered into the tasting room and I made my way to the counter to pay for our tasting session. I stood at the counter a few seconds before the 60-ish male employee took notice of me and I asked for two sessions. He said "$10", I gave him a ten dollar bill and he went back to whatever he was doing before. No eye contact. No "Thank You". Nothing.
My daughter then came to the counter and you'd think a firecracker had gone off in his ass. "Soooo! You're 21! How exciting! Did you have a big party? Have you ever been here before?" She was embarrassed and I wanted to punch him in the throat and tell him to save those last remnants of testosterone for happy hour at the nursing home.
I have been reading about this problem from other 50+ women on the internet. Just type in "Invisible to Men" and you will find scores of articles written by women over 50 who are dealing with this problem. Just the other day, I read the humorous article Along Came Kelly by Julie Gray. What did Julie do to overcome the feeling of be invisible despite her many accomplishments? She moved to Israel! There she has a hottie boyfriend and is admired all over the frickin place.
I've read it time and again how older women elsewhere in the world are not treated like they are in the States. They're considered sexy, full of wisdom, and just plain fun. I can't pick up and move 5,000 miles away just to get my ass admired. There has to be another way.
I think the best place to begin is helping other women feel good about themselves. Lift them up with flattery even if you have to lie (OH MY GOD, darling! That poodle perm and kitten sweatshirt are absolutely DEEE-VINE!). Especially if the woman is over 50 because we don't get compliments often enough. Not without bribes, anyway.
A friend of mine has started a wonderful website called The Eleanor Project where women of varying ages, walks of life, and body types are celebrated in all their glory. She's a trailblazer on a path we all need to take of lifting each other up and making a kinder and more accepting world for ourselves and our daughters.
The wine tasting tour ended with a visit to one last vineyard where behind the counter stood a striking 60-ish woman. Her silver hair hung loosely around her shoulders, her bright blue eyes held a hint of mischievousness, and on her feet were the most beautiful and kick-ass red cowboy boots I had ever seen. I told her I had been thinking about getting a pair but felt too old. She leaned across the counter and with a broad smile said "That's the stupidest thing I have ever heard. If I weren't at work, I'd reach across this counter and slap you."
I'm gonna get me a pair of those boots...