Why do woman over 45 feel they are invisible?
Top tips for getting your self-confidence re-boosted
We all loved Harry Potter and his invisibility cloak. But we also know that when his friend, Hermione, reaches her middle years she will feel as if she has one of her own.
My discussions with women all over the UK and the USA reveal a common thread – something happens between 45 and 50 to make you feel invisible. These discussions have yielded statements such as:
‘Men don’t turn and look when I walk past.’
‘Builders don’t smile at me and wink anymore.’
‘My partner used to come in and pull me into a clinch on the stairs – now he runs up the stairs to the computer.’
More depressing was the belief systems underneath these reported symptoms. Women had all manner of negative thinking including.
‘Well I look older and less attractive. It was inevitable’
‘Maybe I smell different.’
‘I have lost my waist and so look matronly.’
‘Women over 45 cannot be sexually attractive or pursued.’
The reality is that you did not wake up on your 45th birthday to find that the ageing-fairy had taken away all your allure. Somehow, along the way Sassista, you stopped believing and stopped behaving with allure. You put on your own invisibility cloak and now peep out from under the hood feeling bad.
So what might have changed?
Are you creating your own invisibility cloak with voluminous clothes, in dark colours and many folds all designed to cover real or imagined tummies, bingo wings and a bit of muffin top? If so, then you are, indeed, making yourself invisible.
Tip 1: Start with adding some colour and then reducing the volume of the clothes. In the meantime start toning up. Menopause and life might have put a layer of fat over your muscles - if anything this is good as it will protect you from osteoporosis – but muscles can be toned at any age. As you tone, you will change shape and with every inch pulled in and bulge flattened you will feel more visible.
I always remember a man being surprised I was 38 as he said ‘you walk like a younger woman.’ Spend a few minutes in a café people watching. Look at how the young women with confidence move. There is a lightness of step, a sashay of the hip and shoulders are back with head high. Have you started clumping around with a stiff back? Do you lean forward when you walk, looking at the ground instead of the horizon? Do you wear flatties and stamp around like a heavy duck? Do you sway rather than sashay?
If yes to the above, then no builder is going to whistle at you and few will give you admiring looks. You are moving with age not attitude!
Tip 2: Work on your core muscles and deportment. A few sessions with a Pilates trainer will give you the exercises you need to work on your core. Then walk around pretending there is a string holding your head up like a puppet. Put your shoulders 90◦ to your ear and your chin 90◦ to your chest. Now walk as if the ground were made of shell – stepping not stamping. You will even feel younger.
Your self-perspective and what you notice
The brain is an amazing muscle which manages your mind as well as your body. It also has to be focused. Every second, it is taking in millions of data points – light, heat, feeling, thoughts, and movement. Well, your brain also filters according to your belief system. If you walk into a room believing you are strong, sassy and sizzlingly gorgeous, you will notice the looks which confirm your belief. Likewise, if you walk into a room believing you’re the fat, frumpy, mummsy one then you will only notice the looks (or the lack of looking) which confirms this. You will not notice the man in the corner who looks up and lingers on you for a few seconds with a look of admiration. Even worse, if you do, your filtering brain will re-interpret his look as sympathy in order to preserve your self-belief. When your partner says ‘You look great today,’ you re-interpret that as sympathy or a pre-emptive strike to go to the football with his mates at the weekend.
Tip 3: Change the self-talk. You may not look as you did when you were 30. But you look as lovely as you are at this age. So what is lovely about you? Do you have good skin? Great hair? A wondrous bosom? Good legs? A smile which would light up a room? An infectious laugh? Whatever it is, go out with the intention of people seeing that in you today and look for the evidence. If you look, you will find.
If you walk around with grumpy-pants written all over your face, then you are quite mad to expect admiring looks. Misery makes people feel miserable and they neither smile at it nor want to look for too long.
Tip 4: Smile. You will look younger, more attractive and more visible. Even better, people smile back and make you feel good. It’s the confidence loop.
When did you last tell another woman she looked good? Or did you do what everyone does and assume she knows and doesn’t need to be told. Last week I told a woman in her late forties that she could be taken for her daughter’s sister. She was slim, blonde and beautiful. Her reaction? First surprise, then a smile and then she cried because, ‘No-one ever says that when you are my age.’
That’s just it. We think it, don’t say it and then feel miserable when we do not get it ourselves.
Tip 5: Stop the invisibility rot and tell your Sassistas how gorgeous they are. By the laws of goodness, it will come back two-fold.