Being Invisible After 40
A weird thing happened as soon as I turned 40, something that nobody ever told me to expect. You hear your parents or grandparents talk about their various aches and pains, so you expect some of the physical changes. And of course there’s the menopause if you happen to possess a uterus. Your vision isn’t as good as it used to be and neither is your hearing. But the one thing I wasn’t prepared to deal with in my 40s was my new superpower — invisibility.
In some ways, being invisible has been nice. Catcalls and practically non-existent and you can stop wearing the fake engagement ring that usually keeps strange men from hitting on you. But then you start to realize that you do miss the little ego boost that comes from being flirted with (when you actually want someone to flirt with you.) And it was nice when people, usually men, would hold doors open for you even though you used to think it was because they were just being polite. When it stops, you realize it actually wasn’t.
As part of this demographic, you start to realize your opinions and experiences aren’t as valuable. Everything is aimed at younger people. Most publications want younger writers. Products are marketed towards teens, millenials, and the elderly while middle-agers are often overlooked. They don’t want to sell to the middle-aged woman with teenagers, they want their products in the hands of hipster moms with toddlers dressed like miniature versions of their parents. Even in movies and TV shows, women in their 40s are expected to look like their in their 20s and 30s. That carries over into the dating scene as well, men in their 40s seeking out much younger women or at least one who looks like she’s younger than she is.
Apparently it’s not just women (although it’s probably mostly women) that experience middle-age invisibilty. Last night, I was following along with some Twitter drama in which Tommy Lee, drummer of Motley Crue, accused Travis Scott of stealing his roller coaster drum kit. So many of the replies to Lee’s tweets were just comments on his age. People were so quick to dismiss his claims based on his age rather than their actual merit. It didn’t matter if he had actual legal claims to the design of the set because he’s “old” according to them.
Now I don’t usually have a lot of sympathy for rich and famous white dudes, particularly when it comes to aging because there’s such a double standard when it comes to men getting older versus women who are entering their later years. But seeing so many people dismiss him simply because of his age just reinforced the message I’ve been getting for the past few years. If you’re over 40, you don’t matter.
I wish I could say that I’m the only one that’s noticed this but, after speaking to some of my 40-something friends, it’s not just me.
If you’re over 40, have you noticed it too? Are you enjoying your new superpower or does it bother you?