Becoming invisible

17 Jan

{ daily outfit: }

Daily outfit wearing magenta t-shirt, violet cardigan, black skinny jeans, black knee-high boots

{ personal: }

I just read an article about aging and becoming invisible. Yes, I think about this sometimes. I don’t dwell on it much but there are times I worry. There is nothing anyone can say about my current state that guarantees that I will not become invisible with time. Invisible to younger people, invisible to men. Just invisible. We live in a youth-centric culture and this is the reality.

I look in the mirror and I’m confused. I see the changes on my skin, I’m mostly fascinated with it. It, the skin of a 44 year old woman. It’s different. We’re all different but I what I mean is that my skin is different than it used to be. If you’re not there yet, get used to the idea, you’ll see when you get there. If you’re there, or you’ve been there, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s fine, really. But there is this small voice in my head that asks a lot of questions. Like, will I be equally surprised with my appearance at 60 as I am now? Will I ever feel that my insides and my outsides match again? When did that stop? How will others continue to see me? When will I stop looking as sprite as I feel? Will it make me sad? I’ve enjoyed it this far, will I even be bothered to care? I’m inclined to think I’ll care some.

I don’t want to become invisible. I think it’s more than vanity, I think it’s primal. The old and the weak got left behind because they no longer served the purpose of procreating or hunting and gathering. No one wants to be left behind. No woman, no man. What’s my plan? I have to have a plan, I can’t just plow through my 40′s and 50′s with reckless abandon and wake up to the shock of having become invisible. I’m really comfortable with the gradual changes taking place, let’s keep it that way. Besides, when I turn 60 I probably won’t think that’s very old at all and I’ll be confused by the whole damn experience.

Not long ago, I would walk to the train station everyday by myself the five blocks from my house. Every once in a while, a total stranger would say something very nice to me as I made my way with purse, lunch bag and gym bag in tow. Every single time it took me by surprise. It’s not that I don’t think I look nice, it’s that they made an effort and went out of their way. The kindness of strangers. And I would wonder, what did they see? I just doesn’t matter how good I look, how young one might think I appear, there is no doubt in my mind that some things cannot be falsified, such as the fact that I’m not 25, or even 30. I see my face, my body, every morning. I know what I look like. It doesn’t matter. Even if I embodied absolute physical perfection, they were compelled to go out of their way. They had no obligation to verbally express what they experienced. I would have been none the wiser.

I lived in San Francisco, a city teaming with young beautiful women walking down the same streets as me. What made me different?

It’s not that I don’t accept that some might find me attractive, it’s that I truly believe that something else made me stand out. The kindness within. As I’ve gotten older I’ve become more and more comfortable being nice. Not polite. Nice. I will stop and ask if someone needs help. This next part is actually more significant. If, and when, I hear my judgmental inner voice spout something I don’t like about anyone, I will correct it. I check myself. Why did I make that judgment? Has a button been pushed? It’s not what I think, it’s what I do with that thought, that judgement. It’s static noise that has no power if I ignore or correct it. And guess what? It’s made me nicer. I’ve always been that person but I haven’t always given that person power. Now I have and I think others see it.

Kindness. Fairness. Generosity. As I’ve been changing how I see the world, I’ve been changing how the world sees me. So if you want to know what I intend do about becoming invisible with age, I just shared with you the only trick I have up my sleeve.

That’s my plan and I’m sticking to it.

{ deets: }

Magenta t-shirt/Urban Outfitters, violet cardigan/Anthropologie, leopard-spotted jacket/Sandro, black skinny jeans/Urban Outfitters, knee-high snake-skin pattern boots/Kelsi Dagger, multi-color scarf/gifted.

{ last note: }

You might have noticed my Google Friend Connect widget has been taken down. I found out that Google is discontinuing this product soon, I figured I might as well get used to no longer relying on it. There are still a variety of ways to subscribe to updates for this blog. In the meantime, I’d be delighted if you left me your url in the comment box, I’ll do my best to visit.


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  1. Collette Osuna

    January 18, 2012 at 2:52 am

    I think you look fabulous….and Im 43, we are in the same boat…a great boat at that!!!
    Much wisdom can be shared between us, hehehe.

    Love your outfit… are beautiful, inside AND out!!!

    A lifestyle blog for you, your home & everywhere in between!

  2. Cynthia

    January 18, 2012 at 6:40 am

    I think people can see in your face if you’re open to interaction, interested in your surroundings, etc. People still talk to me (at 43) and I think it’s because I actually take notice of them, as well.
    Cynthia recently posted..This is a day for simplicity — except, perhaps, for the…

  3. Franca

    January 18, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    I love your philosophy. There’s a lot less talking to strangers in the street going on in the UK than in the US it seems. the first time i went to New York I was quite taken aback by the way guys would literally just shout after you. But it’s nice to have a chat, and a little friendly comments that aren’t just catcalls. I do wish for more of that, but maybe i should be the one to instigate it more.
    Franca recently posted..Untangling ethical fashion

  4. Sylvia @ 40PlusStyle

    January 19, 2012 at 12:00 am

    With that gorgeous colored hair and your colorful clothes, I don’t think you will become invisible any time soon!

  5. Terri (@RagsMachine)

    January 19, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    I’m writing as one who is closer to 60 than I am to your age. Like you, I’ve found that I don’t really need to judge others. If we can remember that every encounter with another human being is somehow holy…that shows in ways that defies wrinkles and all other signs of aging. You’ll do fine..
    Terri (@RagsMachine) recently posted..Ugly Sweaters

  6. Monica

    January 20, 2012 at 9:24 am

    I LOVE this post, Fabienne. As a mid 40′s something gal myself, I’ve discovered that I’ve automatically become a member of a club of sorts-that so many folks past 40 think about & talk about these types of things. Who knew it was really gonna be like this? That we’d have thoughts like this. That even OUR skin would change right before our eyes? That we’d even be considering this concept of being “not seen”? Emotionally I find it complex, really. I guess I didn’t really know this was going to happen because it was all “invisible” to me prior to 40? Ahem.
    Monica recently posted..Ok. I was gonna head over to Thailand next thursday–BUT I just changed it all–…

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  8. WendyB

    January 20, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    I just turned 44 and have been having all the same thoughts. And like Monica, I also find it strange to be thinking such things. I sort of imagined I never would! I guess everyone thinks they’ll be young forever and aging is just for others!
    WendyB recently posted..Wendy Brandes Hashtag Ring on Gangsta Boo

  9. The Style Crone

    January 21, 2012 at 6:30 am

    I will turn 69 in less than a month, which means that I’m wildly flirting with 70. I feel excited about it and know that self acceptance is the friend of internal peace. I do not feel invisible and I have as much fun putting together outfits as I did in my 40′s. Perhaps more so. I’m not saying that aging is easy, and sometimes changes are disconcerting. I am just happy to be alive! You are beautiful, and I’m sure that you will radiate at 60 as you do today.

  10. Lynn

    January 21, 2012 at 8:32 am

    I am 60 and looking in the mirror surprises me every day! I am told that I don’t look 60, but I am not sure what that means. I love your comments about kindness and generosity, and I think that helps older women not be invisible. We are interacting with the world in a positive way.

  11. Fashnlvr

    January 21, 2012 at 9:49 am

    First, I love your outfit! You have great style!
    These very same ideas and feelings have been harboring in the back of mind as well. Whenever they rudely try to come forward they are forcefully shoved to the nether regions of my mind. Then I look in the mirror and KNOW I will have to face it eventually.
    But why do we allow this to happen? Can we change it? Not the aging but the perception that “old” is undesirable. I am so much more confident now than I was at 20. I know so much more. I understand so much more.
    There was a time (or so I hear) that the aged were associated with wisdom and experience, admired and cherished.
    I hope that time returns.
    Fashnlvr recently posted..OOTD: Two For Less Than Price of One

  12. Tricia Nelson

    January 21, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    I totally agree w you 100%. I have tried to live my life like that troop. My father just died last February, he was 86 and never once in his life did he say a bad thing about another living soul. He always had a smile on his face and always said hello to everyone he passed with a jovial comment about the weather or maybe about the child they were walking with. He inspired me to be like him and it makes my life richer and I am a happy person, on spite of a serious illness. Than you for your inspiration and God bless you!

  13. Rose

    January 24, 2012 at 4:36 am

    Fabienne, I don’t think you will ever have to worry about being invisible. You are so vibrant and vital and lovely, in and out, that people simply can’t miss you.

    I’m finding the notion of age, and the role it plays in our social interactions, and how much importance we give to it, to be both frighteningly relevant (because people do care) and laughably silly (because they shouldn’t, duh.) at the moment…
    Rose recently posted..Rethinking

  14. Jodi

    January 25, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Beautiful post babes.. I love your honesty and generousity!! and you are beautiful.. guess what.. I will be coming to San Fran sometime sooooon… we will have to meet up girl!!!! xxo J
    Jodi recently posted..Back to Life Here

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  16. Thea

    October 5, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    I love this! You are right, the desire for visibility is not just about vanity. It’s about wanting connection and wanting to be seen. As I move away from ‘young person’ mode, I find myself more and more willing to have interactions with strangers: to comment on their style, to ask for or offer help, to simply notice other people.
    I met a woman in her late 70′s who blew me away with her beauty because she was so very much at ease with being seen. Her style (hair, jewelry, clothes) matched her personality seamlessly – something impossible to fabricate.


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