Ann Brenoff is a Huffington Post Senior Writer/Columnist. The Life Habit regularly publishes new articles providing information and insights on topics relevant to boomers, seniors and/or caregivers. Be sure to check back every month for a new article!
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. They 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.
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 gray hair, need for glasses or the struggle to find stylish clothes, reported the Daily Mail.
Oh pish, I say. Maybe these women just need to snap out of it. If someone's self-worth hinges on getting cat-calls from construction workers in low-slung tool belts, I would respectfully suggest that their issues run deeper than just a dread of aging.
I am firmly situated in the anti-anti-aging camp. Growing older is part of the journey of life and it should be embraced for what it is -- or as my husband likes to say, "Would you prefer the alternative?" Yes, I want to stay healthy and vital and know that my contributions are valued. But if I walk into a room and people don't "see" me, well, truth is I probably wouldn't notice. And I speak from the perspective of someone who is the oldest person in the office. I am 64 and most of my Huffington Post co-workers are about 40 years my junior. I am not only visible and present, I am engaged with them -- every day. We text, we gchat, they come to my house for dinner. But what I don't do is base my value or self-image on whether a few gray hairs are peeking through at any given moment.
I'd much rather cast my lot with actress Cameron Diaz, who also doesn't feel invisible. Diaz has a New York Times best-selling "The Body Book" and in discussing it recently with Oprah said, "I get so mad when I hear commercials on television where [they say] 'anti-aging'," Diaz says.
"It's almost as if we have failed if we don't remain 25 for the rest of our lives. Like we are failures. Oh, I'm sorry, I apologize," she says rolling her eyes. "I wasn't able to defy nature."
Huff/Post 50 Facebook fans, for the most part, feel the same.
Karen Hoekstra Dinius said, "The study must have asked the wrong people. I don't feel invisible either, [although] sometimes I wish I could be." And noted Patsy Marlar: "I'm not invisible to my family and friends who love me and care about me, and that's what really matters, so the rest of the world, it doesn't really matter to me."
I'd even go one step further. At every stage of my adult life, people have remarked that I don't look my age. I hear it all the time now -- "You don't look 64." I understand that it is meant to be a compliment, which is how I respond to it.
Sometimes, though, I borrow Gloria Steinem's response when she was told she didn't "look 40" and "correct" them by telling that "this" is what 64 looks like.
Steinem's point was that the public had an outdated view of what 40 looked like. This may work for the people who run around saying that "60 is the new 40." I see things a little differently.
When people tell me that I look younger than my years, it feels like a back-handed slap masquerading as a compliment. What they are really saying is that, in their view, it would be a bad thing to look my age. And I don't happen to think it would be.
What's the big deal about looking 60 or 64 or 84, for that matter?
Yes, 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? If I did look 64, would I be any less interesting a person? Would my contributions be less valued? Would I be written off and sent out to pasture?
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