Invisible--Good or Bad?
By Karen and Erica
Just after we retired, we sat down with a group of incredibly accomplished women who were also at or near that magic moment, and we discovered that we all felt suddenly invisible. That made us mad. We had been very visible just days before--not because were were beautiful or young, but because we were influential and valued. People listened to what we had to say. Now, they seemed not even to see us.
So we wrote about how we disliked being invisible, and how one of Lustre's purposes was to make us, as a cohort, visible again. We didn't mean that we would all become known for our appearance, though image is an important piece of the puzzle. We meant that we would be recognized as consequential--for our experience and skill. And appealing, too--for our style, and because women of a certain age are fun. And cool.
We have since been surprised by several articles in which amazing women extol the virtues of being invisible once they pass menopause. What on earth could they mean? Well, in a couple of cases they are superstar actors or models who are glad to see the end of the paparazzi. Understandable, but not everyone's problem. In other cases they appear to have felt all of their lives as if they were being evaluated for their youth and sexuality and now they are being left alone. Also totally understandable, and a condition most of us have experienced at some point. And some enjoy being invisible that they can actually gape at others, literally unseen as they gather data for books or films.
Of course we agree that not being the target of constant evaluation--especially physical evaluation--is a fine thing. But do we have to pay the price of being totally unseen, unheard, uncounted, in order to be free of invasive evaluation? That sounds like the converse of being required to put up with harassment in order to have a job.
For us, that is a price too high. Perhaps because we had to fight so hard to be players in the workforce, and because we believe the rewards of being seen as players are so great, we will not reconcile ourselves to the idea of once again becoming invisible. When we were young we rejected the idea that we have use-by dates, and we don't go along with it now either. The lives we have lived, the loves we have had, the thinking we have done over the decades have all enriched us and our judgment. We are no longer child-bearing, or child rearing, but that reality has allowed us to step up to a new phase of independence. We are not more or less valuable. We are simply moving forward.
So yes, we do want to be visible--we want all of us to be visible. Being visible will bring opportunities during the decades ahead, will allow us to be influential in a way that permits us to be contributors, not takers. We are no longer strivers in the way that we were when we were starting out. But we still have things to do, and we’re still out front. Visible. And having fun.