Monday, October 21, 2013

Not Fade Away

At one of the art exhibit openings I attended earlier this month, the concept of women becoming invisible once they turn 50 came up in a conversation I had with another woman who appeared to be in her late 50's.  This was not the first time I had this conversation - a couple of my friends who have passed 50 pointed this out to me as I was about to turn 50 myself.  In the most recent case, the statement was said with such certainty that I could only respond with "Says Who!?"  If invisibility was a super power that could be used whenever one wished, that was bestowed upon women as a 50th birthday gift, it would be something to celebrate.  However, this is not the case.  As I understand it, once a woman turns 50, she fades into the woodwork, so to speak, in regard to her visibility to the opposite sex.  You also vanish from the media, and all advertising campaigns, unless you happen to be Andie MacDowell, Michelle Pfieffer, Madonna, or Julianne Moore.   Oddly enough, it doesn't seem to affect her ability to be seen by other women.

Can you see me?

From my experience, and those of my similar- age friends, 50 is a weird age to be as a single woman, You are considered too old to be date-able by men of almost every age except for those in their 70's and up.  Men your age want someone in their 30's, often to start a second family after divorcing the first wife ( I've met more than a few of those).  Younger men may think you're cool (I have been told this by a few of our 20-something male students), but often it's a cooler version of their mother.   Men in their 30's and 40's are often still pursuing women in their 20's.  It was suggested to me by a couple of male friends when I was creating a profile for an online dating site that I would do a lot better in terms of attracting potential suitors if I lied about my age.  Apparently, this is what most people do, but it would have never occurred to me.  The last three men I dated for any length of time were all younger than me, and didn't seem to have any problem with my age, but then, I wasn't 50, the age equivalent of the kiss of death with regard to dating.

How about now?

Fortunately, I don't spend a lot of time and energy dwelling on this idea of a "best before date".  I'm lucky enough to have an interesting, full life that keeps me inspired and entertained.  Sharing your life with someone you love, who loves you back,  is a blessing that should not be taken for granted, but not having a significant other does not mean that you can't enjoy your life.  It is also by no means a reflection on your ability to love and be loved, to which my friends (and Fred) can attest. 

Yep, there I am again

I refuse to fade away, like a pattern on the wallpaper in your grandparent's house.  Single, or coupled, we should all strive to put our best, most visible self out into the world.  If we only get one go-round, then why not see, and be seen?  Let the world know you exist and perhaps your visibility will inspire someone else to feel better about themselves, and decide to be visible too.  No one ever inspired someone else by blending into the background.

A friend sent me the link to the video below, called Fabulous Fashionistas, a British documentary about 6 women, with an average age of 80, who are leading fulfilling, stylish, and very visible lives.  It is incredibly entertaining, and inspiring.


  1. I agree with you Shelley - In my dating days it was the same scenario - I'm happy to be out of the dating game and tell you the truth, if something happened to D i would not go back on the dating scene -
    I would concentrate on me - You are lucky to have an interesting, healthy life - Love, dating, finding someone etc.. is overated i think -
    I use to be scared to end up alone, i'm not anymore-


  2. Fecking hell, there is NO WAY you could ever fade into the background!
    That video is bloody awesome. I just don't know where these ridiculous concepts about age come from; no wonder many prefer to keep their age to themselves! I say PAH to all that bullshit, lets go out in a blaze of glory....XXX

  3. I loved this post. Would you mind if I reposted it on my blog?

    You have such a great attitude and spirit about you. I'm sure most guys your age would have trouble keeping up with you.

    At any rate, I'm forwarding this onto my girlfriend. She is 55 and as you wrote, the only guys interested in her are 70 or up.


    1. Suzanne, you are welcome to repost this on your blog as long as you include the link to my blog in the post. Thanks for your support, and the compliments!

  4. I'll have to pop back to view that video (nearly an hour long) but it looks well worth the viewing.

  5. I think that women are only as invisible as they accept to be. You, oh gorgeous one, will not be invisible. Look at you. Amazing! That's the second time I've seen reference to this video today...

  6. Thank you for this post. A week ago I've celebrated my 50'th anniversary - and I needed some consolation. ;-)

  7. I love seeing you in red, Shelley - your power colour!
    So much to ponder here... Why aging is viewed differently for men and women. Why 50 is seen as some kind of cut off point. Why being part of a couple is seen by so many as the only way to be happy and loved (and loving). I don't have any profound insights or answers, I just agree that we should put the best version we can of ourselves out there in the world, and see what happens!
    I really enjoyed that documentary when it was on TV here, those women are so interesting and stylish.
    PS. Yes. I can see you. And you look AMAZING! xxxxx

  8. Yes you look off the hook in RED Shelley! I can see you for sure! I think women will always struggle with aging a little bit because we put so little value on old people. More than a woman becoming invisible after 50 I worry about how our aging population is treated or not treated. Age and often times the wisdom that comes with it are overlooked for something younger and shiny.

  9. Good point: "No one ever inspired someone else by blending into the background." I just watched that video and truly enjoyed it.

  10. Very well stated! It's reassuring that support for visibility is only a 'click away.' Three truly visible outfits on a stunning woman.

    I watched Fabulous Fashionistas last week and have been thinking about it ever since. I noticed that about half of the women were widows, and I loved the discussion regarding activism. The documentary continues to run around in my brain, and I'm sure there's a post that's developing in the process.

  11. You do suit red (and black, blue, green, purple), Shelley.
    If only you lived here, I've got several single male friends who'd adore you.
    No-one's invisible, it's a state of mind and a matter of confidence. I loved Fabulous Fashionistas although it did make me laugh when 12 people emailed me to say the show reminded them of me...I'm only 46 and three quarters, I've a long way to go yet! xxx

  12. I agree totally. On dating sites most men are looking for women aged between 20-40, and are looking for someone who will provide them with a first or second family. It seems that a woman's character and personality come last (ooh, I sound a bit Jane Austen, don't I?) I asked my BIL for a male perspective, and he thought men were hard-wired to look at younger women. My wise female friend says however it's all to do with the male ego and how they want women to look up at them.

  13. I love this post so much! Thank you for so clearly articulating this - I'm nearing 50 and I'm raging against invisibility. Not me!

    Love all your outfits. Your style is one of my favourites.

  14. love to read your post, your great attitude and your outfits indeed!
    and I'm reluctant to accept this kind of social pressure to stay meek and invisible just because society don't want to watch women in her 40s or 50s looking fabulous and don't caring about what's appropriate!. Hurrah for that!

  15. Thanks videosta! I agree totally.

  16. The video was just what I needed! Thank you so much for your posts and for sharing not only your style but the style of others!

  17. i've been following you on and off for some time and to me - you're a fabulous fashionista, without the fashion (I mean that in the most loving sense) ! You rock.

  18. You are fabulously, fantastically, gloriously VISIBLE in every way!!

  19. You could never be invisible, Shelley, in any way, and kudos to you for challenging that viewpoint. You look perfectly wonderful in all your outfits - I especially like the first and last ensembles, with the flirty necklace and splashes of red. Just before I met my hubby, a few weeks before my 40th bday, I was convinced that was IT for me, that I was past my due date and destined to be a sugar baby to some old fart. The popular media is youth-obsessed, and so many of us have internalized this message. One of the many things I love about Europe is that the ageing woman is considered, and seems to truly believe it herself, vibrant, sexy, etc. I hope I can hang into this attitude if I ever move back to North America.