The Invisible Woman
Linda Wechter-Ashkin PhD NCSP BC-TMHC ADHD CCSP
I remember years back watching a show with Oprah Winfrey and Candice Bergman where they talked about the changing face of women. Candice was talking about how it felt to no longer be viewed as sexy and beautiful once she hit middle-aged and how she grieved that loss. Oprah was talking about how never having considered herself beautiful may have been a protective factor after all. I heard Dr Phil when he was focusing on this issue voice a societal issue that we see men aging like fine wine and women aging as spoiled milk.
The solution of course was that women need to be grateful for the years they have been given, the wisdom they have gained, and they need to learn to celebrate every line on their face rather than grieve their smooth skin. They need to ignore people who tell them how older women should dress and wear their hair. They should dance freely even if they are ridiculed. They should speak freely even if their opinions are ignored.
It’s a weird thing to think about. It’s not like I lived to have guys scream out their windows to get my attention. I didn’t even realize that I was getting my items a lot quicker at Home Depot than the women that were older than me. And odd and superficial as it sounds, I miss it. Not the cat calls, but the belief that I am still desirable. That I have worth. And I hate that I feel that way because I am so much more than my outer self. Cognitively I can list off my professional accomplishments. I can tell you about my beautiful children and how proud I am to be a part of who they have become. I have a husband who tells me daily that I am beautiful after 38 years of marriage. But in my heart, there is still part of me that struggles to let go of the idea that if I am no longer desirable I am no longer worthwhile. Evolutionary psychologists would point to the fact that if you couldn’t bare children back in the day you really had little worth. Social psychologists would say that studies show that beautiful people get the job, the date, and the attention.
So, what do we do. We fight back!! We teach our daughters, our nieces, our sisters, that they should appreciate their beauty but not define themselves by it no matter what the world says. We tell our mothers, our aunts, and the woman in the grocery store that they are beautiful. When we look in the mirror, we celebrate the woman we have become. We remind ourselves of our life sisters who have not gotten to see as many wrinkles as we have. And then we put on the outfit that the magazines tell us we can’t wear anymore, and we pipe up the music and dance.