LADIES Are We Becoming Invisible?

LADIES Are We Becoming Invisible?

Kristen Scott Thomas feels like she is becoming invisible. Are you?

Actor Kristin Scott Thomas, 53, is one lady who feels she is becoming invisible.  (AND MALE READERS: please stay with me, because I need your opinions.)  You remember Thomas in THE ENGLISH PATIENT, LIFE AS A HOUSE, THE HORSE WHISPERER.  Though she’s beautiful, talented and fluent in French, she recently lamented what happens to women as they age.  “…when you’re walking down the street, you get bumped into, people slam doors in your face—they just don’t notice you. Somehow, you vanish. It’s a cliché, but men grow in gravitas as they get older, while women just disappear.”

Let’s step back a moment: Thomas is a film star who also stated that as actors age, “often a young woman in her 20s or early 30s …is the lead, and you’re constantly put next to them.  You’re watching yourself get old, on a screen that hides nothing.”

VERY TRUE.  But what she’s saying is a day-to-day experience for any woman who has a daughter, works with younger women—or is just out in the world!  It’s life, a given.  Comparisons are odious, but there isn’t a woman on the planet who can escape them.

Tira Harpaz in SALON writes: Women are often defined and judged more harshly (then men) by their appearance and attractiveness, a feeling reinforced by a society in which magazine covers celebrate youthful feminine good looks and taut bodies often photoshopped to an unnatural degree.

But Thomas is really bothered. “At the Cannes film festival I got such a shock…saw lots of my contemporaries…all looking so beautiful and gorgeous and healthy, and I just felt like an old ragbag.”  She surmised that many of them had undergone plastic surgery—you think?

Then I received the latest edition of LADIES HOME JOURNAL, in which Sally Lee, editor-in-chief, featured untouched photos of 8 women in their underwear.  So refreshing!  SIZE DOESN’T MATTER, CONFIDENCE DOES the article proclaimed and rightly so.  Editor Lee went a step further asking women to let her know whether these unretouched photos were empowering, inspiring or something readers don’t want to see.    DearSally@LHJ.com

My email was positive.  It was a bold editorial move and something that women need to see.  (Being an RN and a health educator, my one caveat: health comes before bad habits—future good health relies on watching calories and exercising because Type 2 Diabetes is truly out there.)

So what do you think?   Thomas is echoing a standard complaint of females: as our beauty goes, we go with it.  But within the last decade models like Cindy Joseph and actors like Carol Burnett and Jamie Lee Curtis (who let the camera photograph them without makeup and lots of support!) are reassuring us that there is always beauty in life—and that maybe later it comes from within—note that smile lighting up your face and displacing those wrinkles.

So what should Thomas do?  Get plastic surgery?   I remember seeing Sally Field on Oprah in the mid 90s and she had big bags under her eyes.  When I her saw next, they were gone.  She had a blepharoplasty.  Years later I confess I did too.  I was older than Thomas’s 53, but too young to be constantly asked why I looked so tired.  I saved my money, had the procedure and have enjoyed the results.

But facial plastic surgery, peels, injections etc are just warring against the inevitable process.  Our bodies are aging, but our attitudes and our minds don’t have to.  And though big changes are definitely ahead for our daughters and granddaughters, in terms of position in society and leadership roles, there is still time for us to make a difference in how we are viewed—right now.

Tira Harpaz writes: …we have to find places, organizations and people to whom and with whom we feel vital and alive, and if possible, look for ways to become leaders no matter our age… We have to fight or ignore our insecurities and look for opportunities to become visible – run for local office, get on a community board, start a program – and find ways to take control of our lives… 

And despite the physical aging that we are experiencing, we need to remember that we are the bearers of experience and wisdom.  This culture might be ignoring us, dissing us when past cultures did not, but we can shoulder along, use our engendered power, fascinating lives, and creative insights to change that.  We can share what we know.  We are not anonymous older women being ignored in the street, but valuable people.

I guess I would say to Thomas and to my aging self —shake it off.  Be like Maggie Smith who has let time do what it will, yet is revered for her acting prowess.  What will Thomas do?  Being a well-known actor, she’s got a lot going for her.  It will be interesting to see how she takes advantage of it, how this one beautiful lady deals with becoming invisible. 

Read Tira Harpaz’s article

Thanks to Google Images

LADIES Are We Becoming Invisible?

Celebrities without makeup!

20 thoughts on “LADIES Are We Becoming Invisible?

  1. Does a rose toward the end of it’s life cycle look as good as it did when it first bloomed? No. But it is still a rose.
    John

    • Thanks for your reply, John. We do have to focus on all the positive things we contribute even as we age and change. Some things change and other aspects of us just get better. Beth

  2. I think —Kristen Scott Thomas is still hot! I would certainly notice her and I love her movies.
    John

    • YES. I agree. But she will probably be tempted to do surgery and sometimes the true face no longer is true. Hard to know. Thanks again.

  3. I think it *can* be true, but it does not have to define us. It is important to stop caring about what other people think of “us”. If we exemplify kindness, confidence, and grace I think we cannot help but not be invisible as these characteristics seems so foreign these days. Donna

  4. I’m 40 years old… I’m always told how ‘young’ I still look, “You can’t possibly be 40, you look like you’re in your 30’s…” As if somehow looking 31 instead of 40 is something to aspire too…yet even if I look 30 ish now, 50 isn’t that far away and in the case of my health I’ve already been told I won’t see 60.
    For me, 40 is old. My life is MORE than half over and yes I feel it. I do feel ignored, un-attractive, un-noticed. I know my husband rarely looks at me anymore. I know my family looks at me with pity because I am gravely ill and I’ve aged dearly in the last 2 years.
    I look at me and I see the wrinkles and the bags under the eyes… but what I noticed most of all isn’t that or the extra 10 pounds I carry. No, it’s the jowls along my jawline… I didn’t always have them and they remind me of an old lady…my face sags there and no amount of make-up gets rid of it.
    How can I have these? I’m only 40! Where did they come from and why do I hate them so much.
    When I talk to anyone, I feel like all they are looking at are my jowls and wondering how old am I and being so old, why is she wearing jeans and a tank top with flip flops…
    Yet, deep inside I am sick. I have a genetic defect that cannot be cleared up. My day is spent inside a cold room and my nights are with a man that no longer talks to me or treats me like a woman.
    Is it because I’m 40? Or because I’m sick? Is it because I’m a mother? I don’t get noticed by men at all anymore, so I tend to believe it’s part of aging. And while I don’t spend time flirting with men and trying to get noticed, it is something that changes as you age.
    Physically you look older, however mentally you gain wisdom and knowledge that sets you apart from the younger kids. You learn to walk aside a group of 20 something woman who’s only worry is making sure they get to the beach before all the “good sun” is gone, yes I heard that the other day…you learn to be proud of who you are at any age, whether anyone else notices it or not. You find JOY in yourself as you cannot change getting older anymore than you can change how others react to you.
    I have to agree with Ms. Thomas, I do feel more invisible even at age 40 but I do hope that I can move beyond it, that I can smile through the translucence of what I become because frankly in the end, all that will matter is how I saw myself.

    • Yes, Natalie, all that matters IS how you saw yourself. That;s totally true. And you have lots of fights to struggle with right now with
      your health, so your looks are not on the top of that list. I am sure
      that is true for everyone. But I do wish you would seek help with your spouse. A good relationship, one that allows for laughter and talking and understanding will make your entire self feel better. You have a
      lot to offer and if you think he’s ignoring you because you have been ill, then you both need to talk about that. And soon. I wish you the best, Beth

  5. Loved the piece! We are invisible only if we want to be. I love being in my 60’s & at 6ft2 a little hard to be invisible! 😉 From Ms. CJay

  6. We have freedom of speech in this country. Women in other countries don’t have that luxury. All women should speak up. Joan H.

  7. Cindy D. writes to me: The old saying to “grow old gracefully “ keeps popping into my head. As I was reaching 65, I became more aware of the aging process and how I was going to deal with it.

    If someone wants to do plastic surgery I suggest doing it in your 50tys because by the time 60ty comes along you are more aware of staying healthy and that becomes your focus.

    Great point. Depending on your overall health, you may need to spend your dollars on feeling good instead of looking good.

  8. Fantastic article and something that has been weighing on my mind as well. I do feel invisible most of the time and I thought it was just me, a personality thing. But reading this article makes me think otherwise so thank you for writing it.

    • Hi Carol,
      You are so very welcome. There are days when I feel like I’m being seen and days when I feel like I’m invisible. Part of it is ME–because there are days when being home is all I want. Because of our culture, I make attempts to look nice–hair, reasonable makeup–but we all should be received whether we do that or not. Again, Tira makes the point that we can feel visible depending on our attitude to society and how we relate to others. We are all beautiful and visible when giving. Thanks for writing. Beth

  9. Hi Beth…I just followed your link over from Generation Fabulous and had to comment on this article. I agree that there is a tendency for women to “disappear” once we hit our 40s-50s. I definitely felt the impact and had to come to terms with it myself. But what I feel is that it asks all of us women is to consider what it is we really value and call important. If all we think we are is our looks and whether others (men or women) find us attractive, then we will be greatly disappointed with our futures. But instead I think we can do as you suggest in your article–become less concerned with externalities and more focused on what “really matters.” In a culture that obsesses about the material and the external, as boomers we might actually create a legacy that helps turn that tide into an awareness that happiness is always an inside job. Thanks for raising such an important issue. ~Kathy

    • Kathy, THANK YOU for reading and commenting. I think your idea of a new legacy is a great one, but I’m not sure we have the foundation in place. I know I and many Boomers struggle with aging; my health is basically good, and I do spend money on my skin–creams and a facial now and again. Should I stop to abide by a new principle? I think moderation is the key. And YES YES how we live our lives, what we give to others should be the essential element. I don’t abide much–Reality TV, celebrity magazines, awful in my view–I want to nourish my mind and help others through blogging. I love your words “happiness is always an inside job.” I will remember that when on a given day I feel older, I feel like I should hide away in my house!! No I should smile and get out there and be me. No matter what. THANKS! Beth

      • Ha! I hope you know that I didn’t mean that we should just let ourselves go and be completely okay looking our worst–there is a fine line between making the most of what we have and obsessing about how we look to others. I FEEL better when I’m clean and tidied up–but what satisfies me should be my goal, (at least in theory) and not what the media or other people think. I also read one time that there are two things that make a person look good and younger is a big smile and look of confidence. I think if we put “wear” those two accessories every day then we will make ourselves happier AND be good role models to those that follow….~Kathy

        • Yes, what satisfies YOU should be your goal. Totally agree. Kathy, the smile, the confidence and posture–which comes from confidence–all of those things make us feel good inside and when we do, the world just knows it. And yes then we are being good role models. I know my daughters want me to have confidence–they never want their role models to hang back. Beth

  10. I have experienced this myself. but once people get to know me and see my energy level and knowledge in my business, they are very willing to trust me with their website, or social media. I think we have to remove the barriers of just assuming “well if she is X age, she knows nothing about Instagram……really? We just have to keep learning and growing with all the new things happening and not allow ourselves to be portrayed as aging hippie chicks from the 60’s. We can do it. So we take a few more B-12 vitamins and eat organic – we’ll probably outlive most of of the young hipsters anyways! lol

    • Yes Jan!! I love hearing about women like you who are tech-smart. It’s all a matter of using that brain. How interesting and sad that younger generations are torn between being like the Kardashians (spelling??) and being smart in the world of computers and algorithms–such a contrast. Women should not have to look like a NY model when doing the work that suits them–whatever that is. Be yourself. WE CAN DO IT. Blogging is a challenge for me because of the tech stuff, but I have someone helping me and off I go. It’s a great ride. And you are part of it, thanks, Beth

  11. I think Kristin Scott Thomas looks fabulous. What is she complaining about? She is still beautiful as a 53 year old. Women just put too much pressure on themselves to look younger.

    • You are so right, Kathy. I think she looks wonderful and I love her films. She picks good ones. She’s excellent in the roles she plays in French and English. And pressure pressure, it’s crazy– it truly has to stop. Thanks for your comment. Beth

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