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Becoming Invisible
9/8/2008 - Michele Moore

About four or five years ago I sat in the Tampa International Airport waiting to catch a flight and I experienced an epiphany.  I arrived at TIA characteristically early, bought myself a caramel macchiato from Starbucks, made my way to the gate, and sat down.  In the swirl of humanity milling about, I watched as a woman sauntered toward me, taking the seat next to mine.

This woman wore a suit that was both simple and feminine, accessorized with a string of pearls, and a hat reminiscent of one we might have seen Jackie Kennedy wear years ago.  Her makeup was natural with the exception of dark, brick-colored lipstick, which was striking on her soft, pale skin.  I estimated her age at mid-to-late fifties, perhaps a little older, and she was stunning; her presence demanded the notice of those around her.

As she sat next to me reading her book, I realized in a flash of enlightenment that I had become invisible in the world.  With complete clarity I knew that I could walk through a throng of people and disappear in the crowd.  This has nothing to do with the person on the inside, the most important part of me.  This is strictly about the package in which I reside.

I knew that whatever opportunity I had to be dazzling (on the outside) had slipped through my fingers without my being aware of it.  I felt like a nondescript, overweight, middle aged woman who didnít love herself enough to think it possible to be dazzling any more.  When I dressed that morning, I thought more about being comfortable than about how I represented myself to the world.  But this woman, whose name I will never know, is etched in my memory because the care she took with her appearance was a mirror reflecting my own neglect of the same.  Perhaps I had become invisible to the world because I had become invisible to myself.

I write this neither for pity nor praise.  I am curious, however, to know if you, my sisters, have felt this sense of invisibility as the years have slipped by.  Please share your experiences.

P.S. I am keenly aware that the choice to become dazzling...stunning...worthy of notice...is mine to make.  But converting an inert (albeit desperate) desire to become the best expression of myself into action will require much of me.  I have to decide and believe I am worth the effort.

18 Comments From Other Members
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9/8/2008 Susan Terbay from Dayton OH wrote:
I think when you feel confident about yourself - it doesn't matter what you are wearing on the body - or how the clothes look on the body. Some people just have a 'presence' - I don't know what it is - it just is. That doesn't mean they are 'worthy of notice'. You are priceless - a gift to the world - live with it Michele! (smile)
9/8/2008 Bev Sykes from Davis CA wrote:
I gave up any hope of being "dazzling" so long ago I can't believe it. I, too, dress for comfort but doubt I'd be able to be invisible--I'm the one people point at and say "look at that fat lady." I'm not sure which is better or worse. My 89 year old mother is always stunning. I don't even have a clue how to be "stunning," even if I were a more normal weight.
9/8/2008 Suzanne Caplan from PA wrote:
Women Etcetera grew from the invisibility I began tot sense as I grew older. I am an assertive confiedent women who was being overlokked more and more. I want to adress it interally as well as externally and so we have, Yet today, a bank pretensed like I did not exist. It is tiring but I do not believe it for a second.
9/8/2008 Sue Ann Crockett from Ferndale WA wrote:
Michele.. I have been where you were! I believe what Susan says about feeling confidence.. and how that exudes a presence to others. But lately, I've also discovered that while I enjoy comfortable clothing, too.. it's easy to add a flair here and there.. an accessory.. or something that makes me feel special. That goes a long way with me. I may not be dazzling to anyone else.. but when I wear something that feels special.. I become dazzling in my own mind.. and isn't that really the key?
9/9/2008 Lia Hadley from Luebeck SH wrote:
My 79-year-old mother says that she first became invisible in her 60s and then she became non-existent in her 70s. She says people at airport check-in just look through her and people behind the store counters ignore her. I don' t know if there is anything we can overtly do to change this. Like Sue Ann, I think we only have the choice to dress accordingly to our own sense of beauty, or like you, for comfort. I've met a few elder women who do not dazzle, but they have such a sense of style and elegance it is heat-warming. I wish I did, but I don't. I never knew how to dress well.
9/9/2008 J Peak from Plymouth MI wrote:
It is just so amazing when one you of women write something that I thought only I was going through. I had made the decision about 2 weeks ago that I was no longer going to be invisible, and that I deserved to have clothing to wear that wasn't #1. cheap or #2. more than 5 years old. So I've slowly started to build my wardrobe back up. I bought a black v-neck sweater with sparklies around the neckline that dazzle. And it fits perfectly. It didn't cost a lot but I will feel like a million when I wear it. That's the only kind of clothes I'm buying from now on. I am going to shine from now on
9/9/2008 Doreen Harmony from NY NY wrote:
I hear an echo, mine included. I've always wanted to dazzle though I hated the limelight - I think in the end my fear won out and yet the real me waist to come forth. I have steadily chunked on weight no doubt to hide from the world but I, like Sue Ann, have decided it is time to come out. I am working to find my authentic self and to somehow express that with my clothing and my life, whatever that may be. Simple Abundance has some great ideas along those lines. When I am able to do that I do not feel invisible to myself and in the end that's all that matters.
9/9/2008 CJ Golden from Newtown CT wrote:
We are not invisible unless we decide we are! I've duked this out with many of the women I've worked with; I've even duked it out with Sally Jessy Raphael and I remain strong in my opinion on this. I felt invisible as a teenager because I couldn't assert myself and wasn't as pretty as the other girls. I keep feeling invisible as an adult for the same reasons. Now, as a 64-year-old woman I have learned to be proud of the person within this skin. I am not any prettier, but I have more to say (well, not more to say, but I am finally capable of voicing my opinions), I enjoy life more and I"m
9/9/2008 CJ Golden from Newtown CT wrote:
I'm sure this goes a long way towards my visibility. I have an aunt who is not glamorous, doesn't wear the highest of fashion, yet her personality renders her a woman impossible to not be visitble. Aunt Ruth will never be invisible because she is secure in who she is, loves life, and passes that along to all who are around her. I hope to be Aunt Ruth - am continuing to be so. I am not invisible and neither are you, dear women of WE!
9/10/2008 Haralee Weintraub from Portland Or wrote:
Working with some 30 year olds is an adjustment, but going to social functions with them is a lesson in invisibility. Of course they are nice and their dates or spouses are nice, but soon they want to hang out and talk with their peers and there I be the invisible one. It is an interesting situation. Last year, we had a function at our house and in the kitchen my husband and I realized we were invisible even in our own house! I don't think it has so much to do with confidence or style, I think it is our youth cultue and comfort with the same age group.
9/10/2008 Susan Terbay from Dayton OH wrote:
I also notice that sometimes at family gatherings with my children I'm invisible - and I agree - I'm sure it is an age thing and besides 'I'm mom" - so my grandkids 'see me' and that's wonderful!
9/10/2008 Jan Bridgeford-Smith from Newark NY wrote:
Michele-I've concluded the invisibility phenomena has to do with both internal and external factors. I think making the effort to look attractive-however that is personally defined-goes a long way to boosting confidence. And I'm not sure stylist and comfortable are mutually exclusive-combing those two qualities, though, can be time consuming-I've found it usually means being prepared to shop long and carefully and a willingness to try things on-yikes don't get me started on dressing room mirrors! But even with all the care, we do live in a culture drenched with visual reminders of youth...
9/10/2008 Jan Bridgeford-Smith from Newark NY wrote:
and beauty that influence all of us in terms of how we "see" another in the present moment-little control on that external element. As for the young at gatherings, I think of it as the "rite of passage"-young adults and mid-young adults are caught up in that competetive phase of life where everyone is vying for the "stage"-parenting, sports, jobs, etc. I found I'm glad to let them have the floor in social gatherings knowing some day, they too will pass into gracious audience members.
9/10/2008 Janice Farringer from Chapel Hill NC wrote:
I don't feel invisible. I dress stylishly and comfortably and fairly cheaply. I think if you watch the show What Not to Wear you can gain some instant insight into the way you could be dressing. Get some straight leg pants that fit, find a tailor if they don't and wear tops that have some seams and darts. Add a jacket that shows some shape. These items are in my closet from stores as thrifty as Walmart and KMart and TJ Maxx to AnnTaylor. The things that can make you look good are out there. Enjoy. And dazzle.
9/10/2008 J Peak from Plymouth MI wrote:
Hey Janice, I watch What Not to Wear, too. I love that show! Since watching it I never buy pleated pants anymore (neither does my husband). What a difference even one of their suggestions can make. It was from watching a recent show of theirs that made me decide it was time to get real with what I wear, and do it with style. I'm working on it and if Stacy and Clinton want to help me out then I'm ready and willing! I'll even let Carmondy put some make-up on me, something I haven't done for about 5 years now. Just can't get it to work for me without it looking like I've put on spackle.
9/11/2008 Mary Allan Mill from St. Petersburg FL wrote:
Somehow, unless it's dress-down Friday at the office, I take care to love myself enough to look like a pleasant person. Years ago I was changing terminals at JFK. I took a seat on the bus which filled up quickly. A small Chinese man got on, walked toward me, and sat in my lap. Maybe they do that in China, but I sat silently as others stared until he said nothing, got up and off the bus...I guess I, too, was invisible that day!
9/11/2008 J Peak from Plymouth MI wrote:
You win the invisible award, Mary! lol
9/12/2008 Elizabeth Burkhart from Pittsburgh PA wrote:
I've lingered in the world of gray for most of my life - an ordinary, average woman. Late in life I decided it was time to return to school. I earned my bachelors and am now completing my last class in a Master's program. To my amazement, I'm not invisible to the members of my class. In fact, I'm sought after! Tonight is "girls night out." Three beautiful thirty-somethings and me - 63. So let the waiter think I'm their mom! Who cares. They have taken me from the world of gray to a world of color and I love every minute! Invisibility can be a state of mind. Create color instead.

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