Thursday, March 26, 2009

Feeling Invisible

I don't really think of myself as a vain person. I mean, I CARE what I look like and I TRY to take care of myself but I don't think I'm particularly stuck on my looks. I would say that I'm fairly confident, in most physical areas, so maybe that does translate into vanity.

I'm not, however, one of those women that gets her nails done regularly, can't leave the house without her hair perfect, has an extensive wardrobe and doesn't like to get dirty. I guess the term I'm looking for here is high maintenance.

I like the way the "gel" nails (or whatever they are!) look, but they aren't practical for me. I always ruin them. I'm constantly in water or in nicer weather, in dirt. Not good. Not good at all. I have a hard enough time just dealing with my own short nails!

But, I saw a television show last night, that made me ponder the fact that maybe I just take certain things for granted. I can't even remember what the show is called, I just caught it flipping by and paused. It was about women and their journey to feeling better about themselves. They were trying to lose weight, but it showed them discussing their feelings about being heavier or about body image in general.

There was an "older" woman there, I think she said she was in her fifties. She looked pretty darn good to me!!! She was talking about how she works out and she tries her best to stay current, but that it didn't matter anyways. That at twenty or thirty, even overweight, you are still noticed. Still part of society. She said, and it made me gulp a little, that she felt INVISIBLE. In the gym, or walking down a street, she felt she would compare herself to others. She said, "heck, I probably even look pretty alright!" but that people, and by that I think she meant men really, didn't even take notice of her. The days of being an admired being were gone.

Yikes. It made me truly feel sad and chagrined. We all like the little looks we get from the opposite sex when we are out and about in our daily lives. I don't mean lecherous, exploitative looks-but the odd little glance or smile. We don't want or need to act on them, but it's nice to feel noticed. Appreciated. Admired. How must it feel to never have that again?

I know my Mom used to always say that when she walked with my sister and I, it felt odd to her that men that at one time would have been glancing her way, were now looking at her daughters. Ya, I imagine that would be creepy. I don't really look forward to that day. She said it in a humourous way, but now I wonder if it didn't also sting a little.

The woman in the show, like I said, was fairly attractive to me. I would expect men to still be appreciative of a woman that looked good, took care of herself, obviously put some effort in. I would hope men of her age would still glance, and smile. But this woman truly felt that her time for that had passed.

And that made me not only disappointed, but mad on a few levels. Firstly, WHY do we as women care so much about what cavemen males think about us anyways??? Why do we put so much stock in THEIR opinions? Why do we base our worth on their twisted logic? And secondly, why do men of a certain age think women of a certain age are now "too old" for them??? Men seem to somehow think that them looking at a twenty-five year old is not only acceptable but desired.

It certainly was a lesson for me in how I hope to age and grow. I can't control what others think about me. I can't change their viewpoints on aesthetics any more than I can their stance on religion or politics. I can however control how I feel about MYSELF. The aging process isn't going to stop. Time isn't going to stand still just for me. I already see lines starting and creases deepening. I see some sunspots and obvious freckles and sun damage. I can slow it down and I can do my best to take care of myself by eating healthy, exercising, and using whatever lotions and potions I need to keep my skin fresh or hydrated. Beyond that, time is my master and I am her slave.

Internally though, I can master my own self belief and confidence. I can walk with my head held high and a smile on my lips. I can have a twinkle in my eye for that cute grocery clerk or the man that holds the door open for me. I can certainly give a wink and a nod to that strong woman I see reflected back at me in the mirror whose opinion of herself comes from the determination she's gathered from years of living and learning.

I will never allow myself to feel invisible to others, but more importantly, to myself. And heck, maybe I'll be the sassy old lady that flirts nauseatingly with the young clerk at the bank. Why not? I'd rather be "me" than a shadow of my former self. And I bet they'll flirt back.

No comments:

Post a Comment