I am participating in Visible Monday, hosted by Patti at Not Dead Yet Style. And finally debuting my new spectator cloche from Wayne Wichern. A hat always makes me feel visible in the best possible sense of the word. I feel positively impossible to overlook in this hat.
Planning this post has lead me to give a lot of thought to my own experience of aging and the changes it has brought regarding how I'm perceived by the the world at large, and how I see myself. The Visible Monday project was created to help redress the loss of visibility and esteem that seem to inevitably accompany the aging process when you are female. (Kudos, Patti, and more power to you!)
"Common wisdom holds that at a certain age, women no longer garner the attention of men in public. We are still loved by our husbands and partners, and told we are beautiful, but the world at large no longer sees us as noteworthy."
The Invisible Woman, Patti @ Not Dead Yet Style. (Click here for the whole post.)
While I realize that, at forty-one, I'm only beginning to experience the effects of this pernicious phenomenon, I have to say that I'm finding my own decreased visibility very liberating. Perhaps I'll have changed my tune by the time I'm fifty, but right now I'm happy to have traded some of the unwelcome attention I used to receive for a few wrinkles and a couple of extra pounds. You've heard the crude expression about your mouth writing checks your ass can't cash? Well, for much of my life I felt trapped in a bizarre reversal of that phrase, with my body projecting completely fraudulent messages about my intentions and expectations, promising things I would never, ever, deliver.
I was once told by a gay male friend that my body was wasted on me. And maybe it was, because I certainly never enjoyed the ogling, or the not particularly complimentary compliments, or the sleazy propositions. I got a lot of them. And I wasn't especially attractive either. I just happened to have a large chest and a small waist and longish legs. And if I chose to wear anything that didn't completely obscure this then I had to be prepared to deal with a certain amount of ridiculous behavior. And, frankly, I didn't want to deal with any of it. So I mostly hid.
As a teenager I hid in enormous sweaters and punky haircuts. In my twenties, in quirky vintage clothing. In my thirties I attempted an arty layered look that just made me look fat when I wasn't. But fat seemed preferable to sexy, and it did the job of curtailing most of the leering.
Getting older has meant that I can come out of hiding. I can wear something that flatters my shape without feeling like I'm asking for trouble. Sure, my shape has changed quite a bit too. I have mixed feelings about that. But, over all, I'm much more comfortable being able to *dial up* my visibility when, and if, I choose to do so, than feeling constantly over exposed, as I did when I was younger.
I'm pleased that visibility as an *older* woman seems to have much more to do with style than with sex. I'm pretty happy with that trade off.