There is a tendency for women to become unseen as they age. Add to that disability and obesity and I’ve hit the trifecta of invisibility.
Now, there are times I don’t mind being invisible. I am an introvert, which doesn’t mean I’m shy or that I avoid people, I just don’t get my best energy from being around people for long periods of time.
Times I do mind not being seen are when I’m trying to get someone’s attention in a store or at an event. I’ve learned to be vocal when I need something off a shelf that I can’t reach when I’m shopping. I don’t even wait for an employee, I’ll ask anyone nearby to give me a hand, and people are usually more than happy to help. I often crack a joke or at least try to be upbeat about it.
Last year I decided to do something wild to my hair. I have never colored it or tried to do anything fancy – I don’t have the patience to mess with it. But I’ve grown quite fond of the fun colors that people are sporting these days, so I went to my guy and said “color me purple!” I showed him a photo of what I had in mind – strips of purple and teal (aka ‘mermaid blue’). I was so happy and excited when he was done with it – the streaks of color popped out from my silver hair. I knew it was going to be fun.
What I didn’t consider was how visible it makes me until Laurie pointed it out to me. During our trip to Seattle, I must have had 50 comments on my hair. One woman at the Chihuly garden thought they should pay me to sit in the garden because my hair looked so beautiful with the art! Almost every time I’m out in public, I get comments, always positive, usually from women, though occasionally a man will say something.
And I find that I like the attention! Here I sit in my scooter or wheelchair, an overweight, aging woman, and all sorts of people are telling me how fun – beautiful – unique – colorful – awesome – my hair is! Maybe it gives them something to focus on besides the disability; or maybe it’s so unexpected for someone my age. It is definitely a conversation starter.
I plan to keep it this way for the foreseeable future until I get tired of it. I don’t have to fuss with it or do anything complicated – just scoot over to the salon once a month and kick back while Kahala works his magic and we discuss the state of the world.
Older women are overlooked in so many arenas - in business, politics, advertising, entertainment. Perhaps we need a women’s purple revolution!
Remember this poem from a couple of decades ago?
by Jenny Joseph