One of the most disturbing elements of ageing is the idea that we become invisible after a certain age, usually after fifty.
We all age and most of the features of aging sneak up on us. We may notice a few extra lines, a few extra pounds, our eyesight may not be as perfectly clear as it once was, we may have a few aches and pains, and don’t get me started on menopause. But none of these things generally disturb us too much because they happen gradually, giving us the opportunity to get used to our changing bodies.
I assumed becoming invisible – the dreaded concern I’d heard so much about – was also an element of aging that would sneak up on me. But I’ve been told it is very different. Apparently, it is the sudden realization of the feeling that you are no longer attractive to others, no longer considered vital and useful, no longer considered sexy and desirable. And it often comes as a result of others’ reaction towards you.
A few years ago, I was very ill and ended up in hospital. I was fifty years old at the time and relegated to the geriatric ward where – I kid you not – most other occupants were one hundred years old or older.
After I got better and left the hospital, I promised myself that I will never be treated again as invisible just because of a number that makes up my age. Sure, I don’t have my skinny, toned, youthful body anymore, my face no longer carries the glow of youth, but I’m happy in my skin. I keep my body healthy by eating properly. I exercise as much as I want to by walking and swimming weekly and I generally look after myself.
So what if twenty-five year olds don’t fancy me anymore. Do I really want them to? No. I like myself and I make the most of myself. I dress well, wear subtle make-up daily and I feel good about myself. I feel confident, and I enjoy my life. And guess what? Younger guys still look at me, and younger women appreciate my style and ask for make-up tips.
I don’t think we have to become invisible. I certainly don’t intend to, and I urge you not to either. You are still valuable, you are still useful, you are still vital no matter your age. Your mere presence in this world is a blessing to those who know you and to those who meet you.
Some of the most interesting, inspirational, glamorous, confident, funny and stylish women in my life are all much older than fifty.
In my novel, The Healing Touch, Isabelle is already over fifty when she attracts the attention of a Greek Adonis, the man with whom she falls in love, and he with her.
It is time we honour ourselves and each other, and not allow labels to affect who we should become as we age.