I’ve been listening to a new podcast and it’s prompted the question: When do we become invisible? The show is called 70 Over 70 with Max Linsky. It’s about how we make the most of the time we have left. Max has conversations with 70 remarkable people all over the age of 70. Not just about their lives in the past but what their lives are like right now.
He asks the big questions we all ask ourselves no matter our age. Unless, of course, you’re under 30. What does it mean to live well? What are we still searching for? And how do we learn to let go?
Maybe it’s because I’ve entered the 6th decade of my own life that I find this podcast so enlightening. But, surprisingly, it was recommended by Taylor Jennings-Brown, a 28 year-old, on the Code Switch podcast, Episode 358: Code Switch’s playlist for a summer road trip. I found that refreshing and intriguing which led me to seek it out.
70 guests over 70
Some of the guests are famous like Twiggy, Dionne Warwick, Judith Light (remember Who’s the Boss?) and Dan Rather and some are regular human beings like you and me. Have a listen if it feels right for you.
All this listening and thinking about age has prompted me to pay closer attention to how our society views and treats us as we get older.
Not long ago, my niece, her hubby and I went to see the musical, Hamilton, at the National Arts Centre. It was a long awaited event. We had purchased the tickets 2 years ago. Let me say, it was worth the wait. If you get a chance to see it, I would highly recommend it.
We went to the matinee performance and had a dinner reservation afterwards. It was at what I would call a trendy restaurant with smallish portions of delicious and intriguing entrees. Under the waiter’s recommendations, we ordered together and shared the dishes. The food was amazing.
But, what I would like to share with you is our interaction with the waiter. I noticed how he mostly looked at and talked to my niece and her husband. They are in their early 40’s. Throughout the evening, he looked directly at me probably less than a handful of times. I know my niece probably didn’t notice. And, I’m sure the waiter had no conscious awareness of it either. I was not upset, but I found it very interesting to observe.
Ageism or singleism
Was it a couples thing? Or was it an age thing? Did he not address me because I was there without a significant other? Or, was it because I was an older woman? It was food for thought.
It made me curious and made me wonder. At what age, do we become invisible? Of course, I’ve heard of this phenomenon, especially for women. Am I now experiencing it?
And, let me just say he was a great waiter. Very personable, attentive, and had great recommendations. I do think whether it’s ageism or singleism, it’s deeply ingrained in our society. So much so, we’re not even aware of it.
Now, certainly, if I’d been there with a female friend of the same age, he would have been very attentive to both of us. I’m assuming.
Have you experienced this phenomenon of becoming invisible? Would love to hear from you in the comments.
Until next time, Happy Thanksgiving!
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Very interesting! I just turned 70 this week, so I will definitely give the podcast a listen. I’ve heard other older women talk about feeling invisible, but I’m yet to experience it myself. Perhaps I’ve just been oblivious! I think the key to feeling good about ourselves as we age is to stay active and engaged and not worry too much about what other people think of us.
Hi Elaine, Yes, give the podcast a listen and let me know what you think. I’m glad to hear you have not experienced feeling invisible, and I think you’re right about staying active and engaged to feel good about ourselves. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
I don’t think becoming invisible is related to age, some have been their whole life – it’s about attitude. In a restaurant, the server might turn to whoever is perceived as paying for the bill or whoever asks questions. If you try to make yourself small because you don’t want to make your friends uncomfortable by asking questions about the food or wine, the servers will focus their attention elsewhere. Claim your place.
At 65, I could fall victim to both ageism or singleism but experience neither. I’m energetic, make eye contact, ask questions: I project how I demand to be treated and they respond subconsciously. When dining by myself, I don’t look down and try to disappear until my plate arrives, I own my space and engage visually with my environment. When dining with female friends, we are treated equally well.
So people might become invisible when they choose to take a back seat to their companions. Aside from a few 20-year-olds that I invite out occasionally and who display no self-confidence in a formal restaurant setting, I have seldom witnessed it in others. What these few had in common was avoiding eye contact, projecting uneasiness with their body language and slouching. If you are paying for the next meal, walk in like you own the place and they will treat you as such, they know where their salary is coming from. Never abuse your power, just feel comfortable in your space. Hope this works at your next outing.
Diane, you always give me food for thought. Maybe it’s more about being an extrovert vs an introvert. I think there are many ways to feel comfortable in your own space which includes being true to yourself. I felt very comfortable at our dinner, made eye contact, felt relaxed, and participated in the conversation. I wasn’t complaining about the experience, just found it interesting to observe.