The Invisible Woman Syndrome : Aging & Irrelevance
Why we are overlooked and undervalued as we age.
At 45, it is said, women begin to loose a marketable quality in relationships and in their careers. The number 45 has become the demarcation between youthful vigor and gradual decline. The Invisible Woman Syndrome pinpoints this year as the marker of when we start to see the affects of aging and slowly fade into the corner.
On February 2nd, 2020 it was a sequin studded moment of happenstance that the Invisible Woman Syndrome was graced with a new poster child. It was with choreographed precision produced by the Jennifer Lopez Team that millions gasped and knew our half-time as women could not be ignored. , Her performance was a prolific statement oozing in decadence and packaged with jaw dropping sexual bravado. J.LO orbited the pole on Super Bowl Sunday to be met with quiet admiration from ladies like myself as we witnessed a tiny crack in the collective attitude towards aging.
With a leader like Jennifer Lopez at the helm we are equally bombarded with counter intuitive messages that our 50's shall be relegated to a space of decreased sexual appeal, decreased professional importance and a rapid influx of health issues . And leading the way are advertisers like Osteo Bi-Flex. @ostebi-flex #osteobiflex
Marketing our Invisibility to the Masses.
How 52 is marketed by Osteo Bi-Flex:
She is the main character in an advertisement for a joint relief supplement (pictured above). She is visibly aged with long grey hair and costumed in an evergreen uniform of khakis and a practical cardigan. With the numbers 52 blazing on the screen you become acutely aware that this number represents the effort of a major corporation who capitalizes on further propagating the stereotype of the Invisible Woman. To be fair, this 52 year old woman looks happy- relishing her spinsterhood. However, behind the smile is a dedicated marketing machine pedaling a message of mid-century malaise. It is a message that has been solidified and sold to the masses that our relevance in society diminishes at a rapid rate as we enter our fifth decade.
This year I turned 47. It is hard for me to comprehend that I have logged 17,155 days of a relatively abundant existence. I was a decent daughter, a novice at advocating for girl power, a law school grad, a satisfactory spouse and giver of life-- four times over. With acute intention, I recognized this is now my time to navigate the rest of my years. I have become slightly untethered as I now feel less demand mothering four independent (ish) sons. In addition, while in the trenches of diapering and burping these helpless humans I worked my butt off to earn an educational foundation. At 47 I embraced my position and understood that this is the point in my life where I have the opportunity to channel my inner warrior and make my mark. Yet I am met with another uphill battle to climb. I am met with a new challenge-which is to prove my relevance.
This is the plight of many of my fellow Generation Exers. We have been released of the grueling yet amazing duties of motherhood, we have created a solid foundation in offertory skills. We, as Gen-Exers, are visibly sophisticated and do not take for granted the wisdom we have earned. Yet, we are passed over and dismissed for the newer, shinier version.
Does our fundamental appeal decline with every birthday candle we blow out? With each year we are gifted a new sophistication that only wisdom brings. And the cadence of our purposeful lives is marginalized to a space that suggests pleated khakis and sensible shoes are our destiny.
Is it our newly forming wrinkles that we worked so hard to earn?
This mid-life challenge becomes pronounced in the work force. I hear the angst from a multitude of savvy clients that they are overlooked in their professional lives as they do not feel recognized for their accomplishments and they are often viewed as outdated. And those women considering a career pivot are met with mounting resistance.
This should be the starting point for an evolution in our lives--yet the cultural mindset does not revere our applicable advancements.
While the Invisible Woman Syndrome gives a proverbial nod to women who are 45 or older the grasp of the syndrome affects women throughout a lifetime at different points in their journey. A woman of any age and any status may feel like her opinion isn’t important or that she’s irrelevant. She may feel unnoticed or unheard. There is a woman who feels like no one really knows her and another who feels like no one understands her. Perhaps you were overlooked from waitstaff who passed you by only to fill another, younger persons water cup? Or perhaps you were overlooked for a job promotion even though you were the most qualified candidate?
What can we do?
There is power in numbers. And it is hard to remain invisible when surrounded by other like-minded people. Start A Resilience Group. Ask a couple besties and suggest they invite a friend. By exchanging experiences and understanding potential obstacles is a liberating experience. Resilience shared --will lessen irrelevance and strengthen our voice.
Key Indicators of a Resilient Woman :
Adaptive coping styles
Contact with family and friends
Lack of cognitive failures
Sense of purpose
Social support and connectedness
And be an advocate. Write companies like Osteo Bi-Flex and let them know that there is substantive value in a portrayal of a 50+ women as a sophisticated warrior. Change the conversation. Be the reason for the conversation.
To write a note to Osteo Bi-Flex start here: Email Directly Here.
The message of female empowerment as we age is gaining momentum. If we compare the 80's version of a 50 year old woman against the quiet revolution created by the J.LO Effect -- there is progression. Admittedly I love myself some Blanche Deveraux, more specifically Rue McClanahan, the actress who portrayed an aging southern belle on the Golden Girls. McClanahan was 50 years of age when she graced NBC's biggest time slot. McClanahan's character was deemed a retired senior--who was fading into oblivion. It may seem a bit ridiculous now to be 50 and feel you are headed towards your twilight years--which is progress.
Think about it--we can chose to navigate our next fifty years as the Osteo Bi-Flex girl or as the sexy songstress of the Super Bowl. As for now, I leave with this.....
I have the unabashed confidence of a 50 year old pole dancing phenom when I proclaim-- I feel a revolution a-coming.
You got this girl. Julie