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Is the Invisible Midlife Woman Happy?

Is the Invisible Midlife Woman Happy?

I spotted her at Safeway yesterday. She smiled at me over the tomatoes. She wasn’t hard to see, but she was invisible.

She had on wrinkled, beige pants that may have been 15-20 years old.  They were clean… but totally un-stylish.

She was wearing a floppy hat that had seen better days, but was protecting her face from the sun. I don’t remember her top. It left no impression. She wore no makeup.

Is The Invisible Midlife Woman Happy?

Her shoes looked comfortable and totally utilitarian. They were beige too.

There was not one stylish or chic thing about her appearance. She had a happy, carefree smile on her face. She appeared to be enjoying her day as much as I was. She wasn’t much older than I am. Perhaps late 60’s, but looked much older.

 

I wondered why we were so different in the value we place on our appearance. Were our priorities were simply different?

 

As I watched her, I felt her lack of concern for what anyone thought of her appearance.

I briefly envied her freedom from concern. Not caring a bit, what anyone thought of how she looked. I wished I could be so relaxed about my appearance.

I can’t remember feeling that way. Ever. I’m not judging her. She looked blissfully happy. Each to her own!

My confidence would be shot to hell if I went out looking the way she did. I was raised by a mother who never left the house without fixing herself up and it rubbed off on me. Some may call that shallow. For me it’s personal pride. Sure, I have days when hope I won’t run into people. But they’re seldom.

 

Did I meet the invisible woman who is happy to fly under the radar?

I think I did. And she’s very happy with her look, her life and her appearance.

I wondered if I may be like her in 20 years? I doubt it. We simply have different priorities and values.

Do you ever wish you didn’t care if you looked well dressed? Nicely put together. Stylish?

 

Of course I could be projecting. She may have just given up caring what she looks like.

 

Ever see women like this? What do you think when you see her?

 

Style Your Day Beautifully,

Jennifer

I wrote about invisibility in midlife women here, here, and here. Obviously it’s still  on my mind.

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82 Comments

  1. October 29, 2015 / 7:38 am

    i remember sitting by the side of the pool, watching my children frolic and wishing I had
    the self confidence of the obese woman out there having the time of her life while I lamented my lost string bikini years…..who had the problem?…ME

    • Jennifer
      Author
      October 31, 2015 / 9:14 am

      Thanks for sharing Kathleen. I’ve felt that way in my life too!

  2. October 29, 2015 / 7:41 am

    Now that I’m working out of a home office–instead of downtown–I have my days when I run out to supermarket looking, well, yoga-pant styled. Always hope I’m invisible. I thought I would no longer care but I do. I think we all have an “how do I look” bar. It’s just lower for some of us than others.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      October 31, 2015 / 9:15 am

      It’s a very personal bar. Great observation!

  3. October 29, 2015 / 7:52 am

    Oh Jennifer unfortunately I see it all of the time. Women who make no extra effort and don’t seem to care, perhaps they have lost hope, are stuck, are unhappy, lacking confidence, there could be so many reasons. I would like to gather them up for a group makeover because I think that their confidence would soar!

    Even my nearly 86 year old Mother, who is very frail, always has on a pretty pair of earrings to set off her short silver hair and lipstick on! I have lacked in confidence in the past and making sure I looked good helped me to feel better about myself.

    A smile and holding one’s head high helps as well!!

    xoxo
    Karena
    The Arts by Karena
    Artist Lesley Schiff

    • October 29, 2015 / 10:43 pm

      Kudos to your Mother! A very glamorous woman who was around 70 at the time; told me when I was around 40; “After 40, it is all about earrings!! They lift your face!!” I took it to heart! Yay for your Mom!!! I am a total earring addict!!!

    • Jennifer
      Author
      October 31, 2015 / 9:18 am

      Earrings are the best! Your Mom has it right!! If I don’t fix myself up I feel bad!

  4. Rebecca Hively
    October 29, 2015 / 8:04 am

    If we don’t care, who will? And I can’t imagine life without caring.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      October 31, 2015 / 9:18 am

      Exactly Rebecca!

  5. October 29, 2015 / 8:07 am

    I used to work with women like that. They said they didn’t care or had no time or couldn’t be bothered to worry about their outer appearance. The subtext was always that as a non-mother it was easier for me. And maybe it was. But… until my mum married my step-father and we moved to the farm when I was 14, she worked full-time and was a single parent to four of us. Some of my best memories are of sitting on the closed toilet seat talking to her about school as she, in her slip and nylons, put on her make-up and did her hair to get ready for work. To this day the smell of Adorn hairspray reminds me of those days. She would never have dreamed of leaving the house without her lipstick and a neatly pressed skirt and blouse. So I guess that’s why I’m hardwired to care about what I look like when I go out in public. Doesn’t make me shallow… just wired differently.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      October 31, 2015 / 9:19 am

      I’m wired like you! My Mom sounds very similar to yours. xx

  6. October 29, 2015 / 8:10 am

    YES, I see them ALL the TIME!!There are a PLETHORA in my SAFEWAY!!!
    I was in the Safeway in W.C. yesterday I did notice the women were dressed better in GENERAL!Perhaps, WE should meet up there in the PRODUCE then skip across to Nordstroms for a quick review of the latest trends and get a cup of coffee!!
    WE NEED TO CONNECT!!!
    XX

    • October 29, 2015 / 10:32 pm

      And La Contessa is leading a charge for women to dress up more!

      BRAVA!! WHY NOT???? We feel better about ourselves (obviously some more than others); but we are approaching “Slobovia”! (who remembers Al Capp and the delightful cartoon in the funny papers….Dogpatch USA!!!???!!!) Or was it called “Li’l Abner??? One of those!

      He was a brilliant sociologist and psychologist…and there were towns…near Dogpatch; (where everyone was a hick but well-groomed); the nearby towns were “Inner and Outer Slobovia”)

      He was prescient! That is where we all live! Dirty feet it flip-flops out to dinner in nice restaurants! EEEEK!!!!! Sobovia!!!

    • Jennifer
      Author
      October 31, 2015 / 9:22 am

      Taking the time to fix ourselves up shows respect for ourselves. Bravo Contessa! Lunch and style chat next week sounds perfect!

  7. Wendy
    October 29, 2015 / 8:16 am

    I was once waiting for a flight with a bunch of other people, and there was a woman who must have been at least 70, quite possibly 80, who was wearing a truly ghastly old pink tracksuit that she’d probably had for 40 or more years. To say she was badly dressed is an understatement. I would much rather wear your beige woman’s outfit than this hideous pink tracksuit.

    And yet…

    This woman had all the passengers around her hanging on her every word. The woman was a born entertainer. Despite the delayed flight and the usual stress of flying, everyone was grinning from ear to ear, listening to her, joining in the conversation, and so on. She was the most charming, appealing, witty woman I have ever met in my life. She clearly had no interest in appearance and was not in the slightest bit embarrassed by her attire. She was too busy commanding the attention of the entire grateful of passengers. I want to be her when I’m old! I wish I could talk like she was. If I could talk like she was, and have everyone around enthralled and smiling and laughing at my jokes, you could put me in that pink tracksuit or other hideous attire and I wouldn’t care. That woman was about as far from invisible as it’s possible to be, and not because of the hideous outfit, but because her personality and witty talkativeness was so totally charming and entertaining. What a woman!

    • October 29, 2015 / 10:25 pm

      Great comment! Did they have “track suits” 40 years ago! It sounds better than a drab beige nothing outfit. I see those all the time!

    • Jennifer
      Author
      October 31, 2015 / 9:24 am

      Thanks for sharing Wendy. She was obviously perfectly happy wth her appearance. In fact it probably didn’t matter to her one bit. Being happy, outgoing and entertaining is a joyous way to live.

  8. Donna
    October 29, 2015 / 8:22 am

    Interesting encounter (over the tomatoes)… Here in the Midwest I see lots of women who wear tee-shirts, sweatshirts, sweats, pj bottoms and flip flops or tennis shoes out in public. Not that we don’t have our nicely put together gals…maybe it’s just my neighborhood. As for moi, I need to “fix up” a bit, just for myself. Maybe your mystery lady was responding to how you were dressed. You always look like a million bucks, even in your paper shorts at the doctor’s office.

    • October 29, 2015 / 10:23 pm

      How could the “mystery lady” be responding to the way our writer was dressed? She didn’t talk to her…..she only observed her!!

      I don’t think she spoke to her…..and she got dressed in the morning…we can surmise. I don’t get this comment!

      I do agree, however that our writer looks like a million bucks even in her paper shorts! Great humility to post that picture!!!

      • Jennifer
        Author
        October 31, 2015 / 9:27 am

        Thanks Penelope! Those shorts are my reality. I’m all for keeping it real. You’re right, I did not speak to her, just smiled and observed.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      October 31, 2015 / 9:26 am

      Thanks Donna! I think sometimes it is geographical, but mostly it’s a personal call made by each woman. I hope I’ve worn those paper shorts for the last time:)xx

  9. Marilynn
    October 29, 2015 / 8:57 am

    I remember the shock of realizing I was invisible.This happened to me a few years ago when I suddenly experienced a weight gain. Then, Menopause. After years of trying to fly under the radar. It finally happened. Men don’t look at me anymore. Bosses disregard me. My opinion no longer matters. Hell, I was let go in my job this summer. The new hire is in her twenties and gorgeous. I had years of experience, accolades and success. She was a cheaper hire.
    I still wear makeup and have a sassy haircut, I get regular facials, eat well, take exercise. I have a casual lifestyle and find I don’t need stuff anymore.
    It’s all smoke and mirrors. Desperation is not attractive. Botox, starving oneself,dressing like yesterday’s lamb. Not playing the game. Perhaps that is what the woman by the tomatoes decided for herself. I admire people who take their own trail up and over the mountain.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      October 31, 2015 / 9:31 am

      Thanks for sharing Marilynn. Being passed over in the work place is painful!! Your opinion does matter.
      All of our opinions matter. It’s just plain disrespectful to be treated as invisible!! It pisses me off no end!
      Desperation is a sad way to dress. There is a way to dress to remain visible without resorting to trying too hard.

  10. October 29, 2015 / 8:57 am

    I am that woman. I can slip totally under the radar, fade into aisles, for me it is an art form. It suits my lifestyle as an animal foster. I can crawl under porches, pick up a tick infested kitten, help someone clean up gagging messes. I am very content. It is not that I don’t care, I have different priorities for my day. I run to Safeway and on the same trip, stop by Tractor Supply for animal food. I can help my son work on his car and hold tools because I am wash and wear. People are always handing me their animals to trim their nails and I am happy to help. I don’t need a makeover, I have worked very hard to become comfortable in my skin and own who I am.

    • October 29, 2015 / 10:17 pm

      And I love and admire you! Brava!!! The world is full of different people! what you do is wonderful beyond!!!

    • Jennifer
      Author
      October 31, 2015 / 9:34 am

      Bravo Terri! You do admirable work. Thank you!!
      You dress for the life you lead and are happy in your own skin. That’s confidence!! And every woman deserves to find her own.

  11. Maggie
    October 29, 2015 / 9:08 am

    This woman may well have other matters on her mind, such as caregiving or personal health concerns. She may be suffering from subclinical depression. She may have a vibrant inner life that claims her time and attention. Who knows?

    • Jennifer
      Author
      October 31, 2015 / 9:36 am

      I don’t know Maggie. I simply observed her. But as I said, she looked happy, was smiling and looked comfortable with her look.

  12. Connie*
    October 29, 2015 / 9:17 am

    When we were younger didn’t we all think it would be fun to be invisible? Then we got older and suddenly we WERE to certain people. I suppose some people just go with it. Moving through life on your own. Not attracting too much attention. Doing your own damn thing. Even though I never leave the house without make-up and I don’t even own any beige clothing I do find the idea of being invisible very intriguing.

    • October 29, 2015 / 10:15 pm

      This is a fascinating post! Never, never did I wish to be invisible! It has always been a value to me to be as attractive as I can be (I am hardly beautiful); however, staying attractive and well-groomed and classically fashionable has been a goal m entire life! My mother before me. (She was an “older mother”; she had me at 40) She was the chicest and most enthusiastic! She had grey hair early (at 30; and never dyed it) and all my friends remember how brilliant she was! (not only her looks, of course!!)

      I am 68; the exact age my mother became very ill with Parkinson’s; but before she was ill…she was the chicest pistol….and always looked FABULOUS!! I guess it is a value instilled in me!

      My children and grandchildren are the most important thing in the world to me; I still have a very active and very fun career; however….I must say….I do want to look the best I can!! Even in the grocery store!!!

      Penelope

      • Karla Cool
        October 30, 2015 / 10:48 am

        Oh, Penny, you are beautiful! I will always remember how you invited a stranger into your lovely home. Only a beautiful, sharing woman would do that.

      • Jennifer
        Author
        October 31, 2015 / 9:41 am

        Penelope you are a gem. I hope to meet you one day! Your mother sounds like a marvelous woman. I’m with you, I always want to look my best. I just feel it’s a matter of personal self respect to fix myself up!XX

    • Jennifer
      Author
      October 31, 2015 / 9:37 am

      It is intruiging Connie. Some women love it, but some are trapped in it and dislike it.

  13. October 29, 2015 / 9:37 am

    I care to a point. I’m definitely not a fashionista. More like a throw on some jeans and t-shirt kinda girl. I guess I never thought about the invisible woman before in that way…. personalities in people are really what stand out to me.

  14. Tsiporah
    October 29, 2015 / 9:41 am

    What a sad and vain judgement you make on someone you do not know. There are many days I have had to go out perhaps not dressed to your standards and do not look my best as I once did.
    I am the loving caregiver for ten years to my husband who is in the end stages of Alzheimer’s. Some times I may only get two hours of sleep, there is no makeup in the world that will disguise my tiredness and even though my clothes are up to date running out on an errand while I employ someone to watch my husband demands that I get everything attended to and run back home. Do I really need to wear my designer clothes so I am most presentable when there are so many other demands on my life? Rather than judging, start accepting people not for what they wear but for who they are. I wouldn’t wish my life on anyone.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      October 31, 2015 / 9:48 am

      I’m sorry you misunderstood my post. I was not criticizing this woman. I was simply observing the different values we placed on our appearances. She was smiling, happy and enjoying her day. My standards for dress are for me. I was not projecting how I thought she should look.

      I sorry to hear about how hard you are struggling. There is a special place in heaven for caregivers! It is such a difficult time for you. Sending positive thoughts your way.

      • Brenda Dyck
        July 2, 2016 / 9:57 am

        Dear Jennifer
        You have made it very clear that your original post came from a place of honest observation, not judgement. I believe you and hope that you continue to initiate honest, thoughtful topics like this even though there will be those who misunderstand what you are saying in spite of you reiterating that your statements are honest “observations” not “judgements”.
        Margaret Wheatley’s powerful and wise article “Willing To Be Disturbed” is always in the back of my mind when I take strong exception to something that someone has written or said. Wheatley cautions us to pay attention to what surprises us or offends us because a strong reaction often reveals our beliefs and assumptions. This act of self awareness reveals under the surface things that are at work inside us. I sometimes have to ask myself– “why am I responding so strongly to that (comment, behaviour, event etc)? Is my response even about that? What’s going on with me?
        When someone insists in seeing judgement where a sincere observation was taking place I suspect their response isn’t really about you Jennifer (or what you
        wrote).
        Thank you for challenging your readers to look below the surface on this topic. As Wheatley says, “When we listen with less judgement, we always develop better relationships with each other”.
        – Brenda

        • Jennifer
          Author
          July 2, 2016 / 7:35 pm

          Thank you for your insightful comment Brenda! I was taken aback by some of my responses. It appeared very clear to me that I was simply observing and not judging. I began to worry that I’d worded it poorly. I agree that those with a violent reaction are responding to something within themselves. I will look for the article, I know I will enjoy it. Thanks again, I really appreciate you wise comment.

  15. October 29, 2015 / 10:03 am

    I love dressing up, in fact I hate wearing pants. But sometimes I still feel like a schlump and definitely invisible. It’s hard to find clothes that fit because my stomach sticks out like I’m pregnant no matter how well I eat or exercise. The rest of me is fine. As for shoes, I can’t wear heels anymore after spraining both feet and comfort is primary. Sometimes that means ugly.

    It could be that the woman just threw something on and raced out of the house in a hurry to buy groceries and didn’t have time to spruce up but is normally glamorous. You never know, so it’s hard to judge.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      October 31, 2015 / 9:54 am

      I hope you didn’t misunderstand. I was not judging her, simply observing.

  16. Badinage
    October 29, 2015 / 10:33 am

    That’s how I look 6 days out of 7, I honestly cherish it, invisibility is a superhero power. I only glam up once a week, it’s like putting on a carapace also, fun, the women who can do that all the time are born that way I think!

    • Badinage
      October 29, 2015 / 10:34 am

      Very bad grammar – sorry!

  17. October 29, 2015 / 11:29 am

    It’s funny we all are different. I see women like this often. One is in my neighborhood. It’s not that they are apathetic, they just never cared about such things and are happy with other things like books, work, and life.

    I was raise by a mom who cared immensely about how she appeared and even my 98 year old grandma still has her lipstick on and hair just so each day. They learned to feel good by looking nice. I think some don’t need the kudos about their outside appearances, but are excited by other things. Must be nice I think as I worry too much about these details sometimes.

    xo Kim

    • Jennifer
      Author
      October 31, 2015 / 9:55 am

      Those were the thoughts going through my head as I observed her Kim. That’s why I wrote that I breifly envied her!
      XX

  18. April, styleblancetnoir
    October 29, 2015 / 11:41 am

    So many interesting comments from your readers, each reflecting the world as they see it. I wonder, though, if women that seem not to care about how they look now ever cared?

    A close friend of mind does nothing about her hair, clothes, makeup because she once told me, “What’s the point? I’m not attractive.” But she is! Behind the hair hanging over her forehead, behind her dark eyeglasses, beneath her baggy clothes, she is! She has a decent figure, strong features, beautiful eyes. With a little make-up to accentuate her eyes, the right eyeglasses, better fitting clothes and a hair style that would enhance her profile, she would be stunning. But….I don’t think she could handle the attention she would inevitably receive!

    Perhaps some of want to be invisible because being noticed can feel like an invasion.

    Sorry for going Freudian here!

    • Jennifer
      Author
      October 31, 2015 / 9:57 am

      Thanks for sharing April! I think you’re absolutly right. Some women have never been comfortable being “visible”.

  19. Wmm
    October 29, 2015 / 12:37 pm

    Interesting post and comments. My perspective is that we judge people from our own perspectives, as you recognized in yourself. I doubt she is really invisible. My judging days are now over, even about myself. I have wondered about the same thing in people who don’t read or don’t love something else I love. To each his own, I guess. I’m a lot happier having learned that lesson.

  20. Susan
    October 29, 2015 / 1:57 pm

    Most of the time when I make eye contact with someone close to my age, we smile at each other. I rarely notice what the other person has on. The smile feels like a shared experience of thankfulness for still being here and being active.

  21. October 29, 2015 / 3:38 pm

    Fascinating conversation; the comments amplify the post nicely. My mom was like this and nothing could get her to pay attention to fashion or beauty. I like hearing the different voices speaking here; each perspective deserves respect.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      October 31, 2015 / 9:58 am

      Thanks Shybiker! I love the interactions too.

  22. Tamera Beardsley
    October 29, 2015 / 3:56 pm

    Oh what a fabulous post … because it stirred controversy! This honest dialogue back and forth … is was often feels so lost in blogging theses days! Not that I have been any particular help in that area, as of late myself. Some of my recent posts have even bored myself!

    I love your topic today my dear! As someone who is known often for how I dress, I still have compassion for both sides … as I seem to suffer with continual bouts of depression … especially as my nest has emptied and I feel a lack of purpose in my life … but your post and comments here … have made me realize ….

    Today I need to pull myself out of my literal bed of depression … “pour myself a drink, put on some lipstick and pull myself together”. Thank you for this most lovely reminder … that for some of us … Our clothes do matter … especially to ourselves! For me how I dress can often lift my mood … especially with a little prodding … like your post provided today!

    Much love to you my friend! Thanks for keeping it real … and putting yourself “out there”.

    xoxo
    Tamera

    • Jennifer
      Author
      October 31, 2015 / 10:00 am

      Clothes do the same for me. Thanks for your honest comment. Let’s talk soon my friend!XX

  23. October 29, 2015 / 4:39 pm

    Interesting post and comments. I have a couple friends who are “invisible” and seem to be truly happy with it. I can think of another who doesn’t seem to be happy with it, yet she isn’t ready to change. I think it is very individual.

    Personally, I think the way I dress often reflects what’s going on in my life. When I’m overwhelmed I get stuck in my “work uniform” – boring black pants & a blouse. I have no energy to plan and play around. When things go well on the other hand, I have time to play around with things in my closet and be more creative. Dressing well (which to me does not necessarily mean expensively) is a reflection of my life. My mom is 80, and I know she takes more care about how she looks today than she did 25 years ago – so things can get better! 🙂

    • Jennifer
      Author
      October 31, 2015 / 10:02 am

      Thanks for sharing Andrea! I get into ruts as well, but paying a bit more attentiuon to my apearance can help pull me out.

  24. October 29, 2015 / 9:55 pm

    Wow this post and the comments are fodder for a book. I think you should make this a continuing series. You certainly hit a nerve with some. I am that lady at times and I can get it together when I need to. Seriously this is material for a book….Great post…

    • Jennifer
      Author
      October 31, 2015 / 10:03 am

      Thanks Cindy. I was just thinking book too!!
      XX

  25. October 30, 2015 / 3:11 am

    You’d have a field day at the local Walmart. I feel there are events worth the time and effort and then there are occasions that warrant my natural beauty and jeans and a tee and flip flops. I promise I wear a bra! I guess it’s a bit hard to be invisible in the South, everyone knows everyone and if they don’t know you they sure as hell act like they do.

  26. October 30, 2015 / 5:06 am

    My sister and I talk about this often as our Mother was the Queen of wearing what she called “pottery clothes” and cut holes in her shoes for comfort and did not understand how hair color could lift one’s spirits. She did not even want to change for my Father’s funeral and said “I look fine.” Now I value her for all her quirks and that she embraced herself just the way she was. She was always kind and looked for the good in everyone.
    pve

    • Jennifer
      Author
      October 31, 2015 / 10:05 am

      The point is your Mom was happy with how she looked. That’s what my post was supposed to point out. The difference in our appearance and that she was perfectly happy with it.We simply had different standards. One is no bettter than the rest so long as each is confident.

  27. October 30, 2015 / 9:10 am

    Popped over here from Cindy’s post. Sometimes I just want to be under the radar…like after working out and choosing tomatoes at the grocery store. But when we lived in France…I would never go out like that! When my son was really little in a new ski jacket he said “When you look good, you do good.” Good motto.

  28. October 30, 2015 / 9:32 am

    My guess is that this woman has always been invisible. She’s never wanted to draw attention to herself. I know women like this, so it’s not just something that happens to us when we reach a certain age. Me, on the other hand, I’m always put together, except if I’ve been to the gym. Even then, my hair and makeup are done, and I wear nice gym clothes/shoes. xoxox, Brenda

  29. October 30, 2015 / 11:50 am

    I’m one who cannot leave the house without makeup and dressed decently. But…that’s ok. I don’t feel awake or good about myself unless I do. Does that come from a mom that expected nothing less…likely. To be honest, I thank her for it. What irks me now is even with looking our best and having tons of experience and wisdom…we over 50’s are still invisible, especially in the workplace. I feel the tide turning though, thanks to women like yourself Jennifer. You may have sparked a few minds with your post but I appreciate your honesty. At least you get people ‘talking’. Posts with real grit is what gets our minds thinking. Have a lovely weekend! xo Deb

    • Jennifer
      Author
      October 31, 2015 / 10:06 am

      Thanks Deb. I got the same thing from my Mom. She never left the house without “putting on her face”. XX

  30. DaniBP
    October 30, 2015 / 2:29 pm

    Interesting post and comments Jennifer, and I applaud you for writing something personal, your own observations…which are likely to attract criticism. I don’t agree at all that you were being judgemental, you were merely observing the lack of interest in appearance yet the happiness of that person… that’s the point. There are many judgmental women in the world who lend a critical eye to their idea of female success etc, despite our feminist movements. You, however, were merely observing and I think admiring.
    I also find it interesting to see a woman comfortable in her own skin despite making herself beige or invisible, perhaps partly because I am not that person. It’s funny because while I cringe if under the spotlight, while having to speak to a group, being the centre of attention etc I would never leave my house without makeup, a nice outfit etc. If my family and friends saw me doing that they would know that I was unwell. I’ve certainly had stressful times with no sleep due to my daughter’s illness, no sleep due to caring for a disabled relative etc but if I didn’t make an effort with the day something else would be lost. That’s who I am but like you I respect all sorts and I certainly have friends with attitudes on appearance who range across the spectrum, and we respect each other’s own style, and we find each other interesting as well. XO

    • Jennifer
      Author
      October 31, 2015 / 10:10 am

      Thank you Dani. You understood my post perfectly! I was beginning to wonder if I’d worded it wrong. I’m sorry to hear about your daughter and relative! XXX

  31. Louise K.
    October 30, 2015 / 8:28 pm

    That’s an interesting post, but the comments were even more interesting. Your followers have such a wide spectrum of opinions on this. It all prompted me to think about why I am probably “invisible”. There are various reasons: I had a small wardrobe as a child and was never taught or encouraged to be “fashionable” – my mother had a house full of boys! I dressed adequately for office jobs but never spent a lot of time on hair/makeup. Now, I have the means to dress well but can’t seem to get there. It’s always those 30 pounds I want to lose, or I can’t decide how to get my hair cut. Is it because of my priorities, early training, a husband who doesn’t complain? Who knows?
    I do want to look more polished and interesting, however. I think if I can make one small change every few weeks I can make some progress.
    Thank you for the food for thought!

    • Jennifer
      Author
      October 31, 2015 / 10:11 am

      Thanks Louise. Send me an email so I can give you a few ideas.

  32. Linda S.
    October 30, 2015 / 10:40 pm

    What an interesting topic of conversation Jennifer, I read every comment here.

    I would be the person that will not leave the house without hair and makeup done. Even if I am in jeans, I still put forth the effort to look nice. I have been guilty of stopping by the grocery store right after the gym but to put on street clothes and go out with no makeup would seem strange to me..I wouldn’t feel “done”. Sometimes I hate it when I have to go through the whole process just to go run a few errands but I’m just not comfortable leaving the house any other way. I’m always so happy if my husband offers to go for me so I don’t have to spend all that time getting ready!

    Sue mentioned here that she credits her mom for influencing her and I would have to say the same. My mom always looked pulled together…a cousin of mine that I hadn’t seen in years recently told me that when she was younger my mom was always her “Marilyn Monroe”. What a wonderful thing to hear, it brought tears to my eyes.

    Linda

    • Jennifer
      Author
      October 31, 2015 / 10:13 am

      I’m like you Linda. My mother instilled the same values in me. Thanks for sharing!

  33. debra @ 5th and state
    October 31, 2015 / 6:23 am

    coming from cindys blog & thrilled to “meet” you!
    i am visiting in europe at the moment. was in france and now in england. what a difference, in france everyone seems to be vying for attention, in england (rural) it’s the land of invisibles. nothing like american walmarts but sensible, beige, very little makeup & poor haircuts. another observation is they are splendidly happy & they all detect me as an american
    debra

    • Jennifer
      Author
      October 31, 2015 / 10:15 am

      Welcome Debra! I’ve noticed a big difference geographically too! I’m glad you joined the conversation!

  34. Renée
    October 31, 2015 / 7:31 am

    I have long noted on this phenomenon and sometime wish I could not care how I look, though I’m constitutionally incapable of this. Now, I do make an effort to look good, and, since no one knows me, I can tell you that in the last few weeks I have gotten such compliments as, “You walk like a model!” from a young stranger, to “You don’t look your age at all!” from another stranger, to “You look marvelous in that outfit!” from a colleague. But despite this, I know I’m invisible to some groups just because of my age–just as other groups are somewhat invisible to us middle-agers because they’re not on our radar. I had a moment of enlightenment during one trip to Florence, when I’d been boring my husband with my complaints of how I looked. We passed a group of impossibly thin, impossibly beautiful, impossibly stylish young Florentines and it suddenly occured to me, “They just don’t see me.” I just wasn’t on their radar. I was a tourist, I wasn’t their age–or class!–and they didn’t know me. It wasn’t a depressing thought; rather, I found it incredibly liberating. I knew I couldn’t compete with that group and so I ceased my insecurities. I didn’t give up, I didn’t suddenly stop trying to look good, but I was suddenly relaxed about my appearance. And in return, I actually received a compliment from a young Italian woman at a wine tasting who said she loved the way I’d tied my scarf.

    This is going on a bit, but I’d like to add one more thought. One of the few women whose appearance really made an impression on me at a grocery store was, though not at all sloppy nor dowdy, in her jeans, tee, and running shoes, not particularly well dressed. But she was slender and straight-backed, and carried herself with such grace and ease that she was a pleasure to watch. Sometimes mere neatness is sufficient if other factors are in play.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      October 31, 2015 / 10:18 am

      I loved your comment Renee. Thank you. We can’t and should never try to compete, but that doesn’t preclude us from looking our best!

  35. Margaret
    October 31, 2015 / 8:31 am

    I too read all the comments – many with disbelief and some in awe! Your article was well-written and I do admire your frank self- assessment. All of this is judgmental – positive or negative. Reasoning power, people and not a skill to be ashamed of having!

    This woman and many like her are not invisible – perhaps that’s a label we chose to apply to her for our own various reasons. She may appear invisible to you, but she’s someone’s Mother, Daughter, Wife, Friend and not so invisible to them. Whether this woman has chosen to dress and act the way she does is not understandable to many; anymore than some people don’t comprehend why it is so very, very important for lots of women to dress up or perceive themselves as looking nice when they leave home. Maybe, just maybe those women are the “invisible” ones because they’re all the same and the other women actually stand out. I feel a bit of fear here – are many women afraid of ending up as they see this woman? Perhaps we all can look certain ways and still see that while you may not ever “dress like that”, you can accept that others do, without being condescending or patronizing in assuming the beige woman have issues because she looks like she does – I’m just not sure it’s HER that has the issues.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      October 31, 2015 / 10:26 am

      She didn’t appear to have any issues at all. As I wrote, she looked happy and carefree. I was not judging her, mearly observing the difference between us.
      There is a lot of fear and pain in many midlife women who deal with being overlooked and unrespected simply because of their age. Appearance plays a role in that, whether they chose to believe it or not.
      If they truly don’t care, bravo for them. If they do and are wondering how to combat it, there’s solutions she can employ.

  36. Bella
    October 31, 2015 / 12:09 pm

    Invisibility makes it so much easier to shoplift. I’d rather be invisible that seen as trying too hard.

  37. Elizabeth
    November 2, 2015 / 5:53 am

    Great topic. I want to add a “Thank You” to all the ladies “of a certain age”..( whether its 40 or 80) who find the time and energy to fix themselves up a bit, to stay fit, to wear interesting ensembles – because it certainly inspires me and lifts my spirits when I see them. Its a hard and cold world out there, ladies! We may be invisible to some people but I can assure you, not to all. Just finished the movie documentary “Iris”, about the fascinating Iris Apfel, and am totally inspired. I’m going to try to be a little more Iris and a little less Beige Lady from here on out!

    • Jennifer
      Author
      November 2, 2015 / 6:57 am

      It’s lifts my spirits and inspires me too Elizabeth! Thanks for sharing. I haven’t seen that movie, but anxious too.

  38. SB74
    November 2, 2015 / 6:34 am

    I could be a younger version of that woman. I’m not much over 40, but I’ve definitely become invisible since I gained a lot of weight. I limit my wardrobe to a few colors so I’m not all over the place, but that’s really the only concession I make to appearances. I don’t wear makeup, my hair is just pulled back, and I might have spent the morning stripping paint.

    I am very happy, and I don’t care if people notice me or not. It’s been a long, interesting road to getting there. I was an awkward, bullied kid, and then a beautiful and stylish woman in my 20s. I could make a bar full of men break out in fights, and I got a lot of envious glares from women. But it didn’t make me happy. It didn’t bring me love, friendship, professional success, or anything that really mattered.

    Now, as a dowdy woman in my 40s, I’m far happier than I ever was as that woman that everyone looked at. I’m the keystone in a large network of family and friends, and a lot of lives are made better because of everything I do. I am often overlooked, and it makes me laugh when people discover that I am an extremely intelligent, creative person who can command a room. Being invisible doesn’t make me feel bad, because I know that it is a fault of other people’s vision rather than a fault in what I am.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      November 2, 2015 / 7:01 am

      Thanks for sharing. The point is that you are happy! There are many women who aren’t happy being ignored. And that’s what invisibility is.

  39. November 9, 2015 / 6:07 pm

    I’d find it so depressing to not care what I wear. I like dressing up as it always improves my mood. The fact that others appreciate it is simply icing on the cake!

  40. Kittentoes
    April 12, 2016 / 6:10 pm

    I guess it’s how we feel in our skin that really counts. Some woman may appear ‘invisible ‘ but are comfortable with themselves while others may spend considerable time and money on grooming and makeup and clothes but still feel invisible. I’ve known women like that. Well groomed, chic attractive ladies that would give the world to have their partners notice how hard they try. I also know seemingly ‘invisible ladies’ who live active lives and are adored by husband, family and friends.
    I have a friend, a well groomed, educated chic lady who spent years being invisible to her spouse and children. One day she met someone who really looked at her and loved what he saw…and she ended 37 years of being the invisible woman. In fact when I see her now she just glows!
    So I am not so sure invisibility is represented by how we dress…as I mentioned earlier it’s if we FEEL invisible that really counts.
    There are woman out there who truly don’t care, even hygiene is not important! The woman who loves and is loved is never invisible.

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