I W F
I will be the first to admit that I did not see it coming – the slow slide into invisibility that comes with being an over-40 female in America. My first recognition came when I joined an online survey group offering to pay me for my opinion on a variety of social and retail trends (I quit after the first 20 surveys excluded me for not being in the 20-40 age bracket – the important demographic group).
Next came dining out alone at restaurants where maitre d’s look completely through me to seat couples or families in line behind me (perhaps I should tell him about my 20-30% tipping practice?)
Now I can add craft beer establishments to the list, where if I do not overtly flag someone down, I am unseen for at least 15 minutes (despite empty tables around me). As an aside, craft beer is also a topic of a blog I write.
The media are no less kind to single white women (age is less relevent here) – especially if we are single mothers (a new target for a senator in WI), or ovulating (note to Rush Limbaugh and elected politicians: why do we fund Viagra and not birth control?)
What Happens when Women Age?
Perhaps the invisibility comes from other characteristics?
Could it be that I am independent (my children are grown), or confident (talk about an intimidating trait!), or attractive (I stay in shape!), or financially stable (I pay my own way), or knowledgeable (I write several blogs – one professionally)? No, the people who do not see me do not know any of these things.
Yet, somehow, despite arriving at middle age with status, stature and bearing, these are not enough to ward off Invisibility… (I know it is not “Rejection” because I have not yet met the people to whom I am invisible!)
We are so politically correct in North America so as not to disenfranchise any minority group (if you are disabled+female+veteran+Asian descent you can write your own ticket) or god forbid, offend a member of any minority with a misplaced word – yet a huge majority group – Invisible White Females – is largely disregarded and forgotten.
(It is interesting to note that the average age of women in the US according to the 2010 census is 38, with a life expectancy of 80+ years. We have a long time to be an IWF!)
What is YOUR Experience?
Certainly males are overlooked, disregarded, or downright ignored at times too, but in talking to colleagues, nothing quite compares to being an Invisible White Female as far as being a non-entity.
I feel like I am fading into the woodwork as I age… what is your experience? What do YOU think?