I’ve been trying to write this post for a long time. But I wanted to do it justice and wasn’t sure I was the person to write it. But here we go, I hope it is taken in the tone it is intended. You see, I’ve been thinking about starting my own hashtag. #ISeeYou.
What does the hashtag mean? It’s about the way we become invisible as we age. Especially women but not exclusively. Now I feel full disclosure is needed before I start. I’m not that old. No, I didn’t go to school with Jesus, nor did I have a pet dinosaur growing up. I did, however, start out my life without internet or personal computers and mobile phones but I was still a teenager when all these things became common. I’m 44. I’m a mum of six and a grandmother to two.
But despite this, relatively young age, I’m already feeling that invisibility cloak drifting down from the ceiling, shrouding me as I walk.
I used to be the life of the party. Funny, loud, talkative, inclusive. Now when I go to a gathering, I find it hard to find people to talk to. It’s like my humour is no longer funny, my opinion no longer sought and my conversation no longer worth the time.
There are little quips about how ‘I wouldn’t understand.’ or how ‘You’re older so you wouldn’t get it.’ Especially in regards to boy troubles. Now I’m sorry. I may be the ripe old age of 44 but assholes weren’t only just invented. They’ve been around for as long as man (and woman). I more than ‘get it’ I’ve lived through that shit and I survived to bitch about it.
I’m beginning to feel lonely and patronised. A woman placed her hand on my back in the shopping centre last week as if to guide me in through the doors and said, “Are you ‘right dear?” Am I alright? Why the hell wouldn’t I be? I was hardly running a marathon, although I have been known to take part in extreme shopping expeditions. I stood there stunned. She then told her daughter who was about seven to let me go first. Age before beauty and all that I guess. I wondered if I should mention that I have a four and six-year-old child myself and I hardly needed her to help me walk through a door.
But on the positive side, at least she saw me and I’m sure she was just trying to be nice. But what I mean by the hashtag isn’t merely ‘seeing’ someone, like you spot them and hold the door open for them, it’s about really seeing them. Seeing them as more than an old person.
Just recently a friend put a photo up of her daughters birthday party and in the background was her father. He had silver hair shaved on the sides and a jet black mohawk through the centre. He was covered in tattoos and wore leather cuffs on his wrists. The sort with the little silver spikes. I stared at the picture for almost a stalkerish amount of time. Something in it struck a chord with me. I SAW him. I didn’t just see an old man. I saw THE man. The man he was, the man he is. A man captured by his image. My mind ran away with me. Did he play drums in a band? Did he drive a Harley? I found him fascinating. He wasn’t just an aged face lacking anything defining other than the fact he was old. I thought of that picture that did the rounds of an older woman, her body crumpling, looking in the mirror and seeing herself as a dancer.
So much of who we are is wrapped up in our appearance. What we wear, how we have our hair, our beauty and our presentation. But all that seems to vanish when we get to a certain age. Now we aren’t the cool girl with the long hair or the funny guy who plays in the band. We are just that old lady or that old man.
I sure as hell know there is more to me than my wrinkles and I’m not ready for a blue rinse yet. Although I could be talked around to the pink. Pink is more my thing. Now I’m not saying 44 is old, or 60 or 80 for that matter. All I’m saying is that there have been times that I feel looked down upon because of my age. So I can’t imagine how much worse it will get the older I get.
I just want people to see me as the doomsday prepping, smurf collecting, 80’s music-loving, colour pink obsessed, Archie comic reading, reality TV watching, movie buff, book-loving, chocolate binging, coke drinking, weirdo that I’ve always been.
If you see me I’ll see you.
#ISeeYou. #ISeeYouAndYourGrannyPanties #PinkRinseBrigade #StillAPerson #StillHaveABrain #StillWorthy