On Becoming Invisible

“You may begin to notice that you’re invisible. Especially if you’re short and gray-haired. But I say to whom? And so what?” – Grace Paley

 

Reading Brainpickings this morning.

I have been thinking a lot about this “invisible” thing. Wondering if it is true. Thinking, yes, I suppose “I” am invisible to Make-up companies, to Coca-Cola, to Nike… I’m fine with that. Maybe it is because people like me are too experienced to be seduced by the idea of buying an identity, so companies don’t waste their money trying. I know from experience what works for me and I research alternatives based on recommendations, not images. I’m not “stuck in my ways”, but I am less-easily manipulated. That the media realises this seems like a compliment – or at least a (-n unwitting) recognition of my resistance to dazzle.

12622519_975338355855194_1068449626315872291_oAm “I” invisible to the television networks? Well, maybe it is because “I” don’t watch much television these days because I realise that my time is limited and no longer want to spend a lot of it in a fictive world – or a world dedicated in part to the worship of fashionable, crass ideals? Or maybe simply because the sponsors of programs want to reach a demographic that they can still manipulate?

I’d rather go for a run in the woods. I do find books and films about people my age, if I look. They aren’t the blockbusters. They are the quiet books and films, without product placements or merchandising. There are stories out there, behind the loud curtain of 30-something.

I will be fifty this month, and I am not on my way out of the world. I think I see much more of it now than before. I am also far less concerned with how much of the world sees “me”. I am not any more invisible than I was at 20. In fact, I am probably increasingly visible as an individual, rather than a knock-off of a stereotype for someone’s consumption.

A wolf-whistle is not evidence of a person’s visibility.

5 Comments

  1. Ren Powell says:

    Not that Grace Paley implied or in anyway suggested that not getting wolf-whistles was what she was talking about when she said she felt invisible!

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  2. I don’t mind the invisibility. It allows me the opportunity to observe more closely, without anyone notice how closely I’m looking. Hides my snooping. Also–I’ll never be as “invisible” as my tiny grandmother became. Too tall.

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  3. Jodianne says:

    Turning 50 was life changing for me. There was a real sense of feeling invisible and failure. I realized that lifelong assumptions had not been proved or disproved. I believe it is caused by a mathematical measure of life and mortality. As the approach of half a century neared I reevaluated everything with a sense of panic.

    I looked for photos of myself because I couldn’t remember what I looked like. There really weren’t any. I started taking selfies. What I saw was frightening. But it actually helped. I worked with what I had and started transforming my physical self to reflect how I wanted to feel from the inside out. I began writing more with a desire to be heard.

    The sense of invisibility dissipated. I eventually got to a place where I was comfortable with me. I accepted my mortality, the fragility and temporal state of the energy my body is inhabited with. I often feel as though I am a ghost visiting the living, and just passing through. My presence, however, is felt, seen and appreciated. I grow less and less melancholy with the inevitable fact I will, in fact, physically disappear as time goes on.

    In some ways I think getting old is like pregnancy. There came that point where absolute terror consumed me, but by the due date I was completely ready to expel the creature that dwelt inside me. With the end of that saga came a new one. I believe with all certainty that this energy I call my soul will continue on. You cannot destroy energy. But you can transform it.

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