A recent study by a company that sells herbal products to menopausal women found that women start to feel invisible around the age of 51.

Women no longer feel men notice them when they walk into a room, nor do they see admiring glances coming their way. The result, says this study of 2,000 women, is depression. The Daily Mail reported that,

More than two-thirds of those over 45 reported walking into a room and feeling “completely unnoticed”by the opposite sex. Nearly half said they lacked confidence and many blamed their grey hair, need for glasses or the struggle to find stylish clothes.

Once women reach their  50’s, they has experienced the ups and downs of relationships, taken responsibility at work or home and seen a little  or even a lot of the world. Yet many women of this age don’t feel confident at all, especially when it comes to the opposite sex. And some women – once their fertile years are behind them, and despite the gains of 40 years of feminism – feel marginalised, and invisible.

While marriages may be lasting longer, according to the Bureau of Statistics, most people are still divorcing between the ages of 40 and 50. “Women who have been ‘having it all’ come to us around 45, 50 and they are clapped out,” says Relationships Australia’s director of operations, Lyn Fletcher.

They’ve made themselves exhausted by being indispensable, rearing a family while forging a career, and they’ve lost something along the way. If they don’t see themselves as important, it’s easy to think of themselves as invisible.”

Ageing, says feminist and ethicist Dr Leslie Cannold,

makes women invisible, on the street and in the boardroom, and being invisible sucks”.

A few years ago, Cannold outed herself as a Botox user in a newspaper column. She was arguing for an end to the hypocrisy and silence surrounding Botox compared to other age-defying treatments, such as dyeing hair and using make-up. She started having the anti-wrinkle injections to ease herself through the difficult, painful transition from the fertile, overtly sexual woman but increasingly invisible, she felt society, and men especially, viewed her as. “I wasn’t ready for it,” she admits now. “Whether, as feminists, we like it or not, men find us more attractive when we are fertile and able to reproduce, and this is of course transitory.”

The University of NSW journalism professor Catharine Lumby definitely does not feel invisible, and she says women should stop being coy about their age. “I’ve been told on a number of occasions that I should stop being so honest about my age – 50,” she says. “I even had a very smart and attractive colleague who refused to confirm when she was turning 40.”

The best way to refute the invisibility nonsense is to be upfront and out there as women, proudly and loudly proclaiming that we may be ageing, but we’re not going anywhere soon.”

It’s our society that has an outdated view of what 50 looks like.  What’s the big deal about looking 50 or 64 or 84, for that matter? We live in a culture where beauty is equated with youth, but maybe it’s time to change that thinking. Why can’t 64 be beautiful? Does it mean that person is any less interesting a person? Are their contributions less valued? We think not.

 

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