The Invisible Woman
Posted on 5th October 2020 at 18:03
It's been an interesting week. I have been working hard to launch my business, and passion, Thrive over 40. If I'm honest, I am excited and terrified in equal measure.
Starting something new takes, energy, persistence and courage. It's time to 'lean in' and make it happen. There is something really liberating about the buck stopping with me. It's making me apply and challenge myself. How much do I want this and how much am I prepared to give it? 100%.
I was adding the finishing touches to my website last week and I was looking for positive images of women that I could use. My web designer had picked some pictures that were jarring with me. There were far too many women doing the 'lotus position' for my liking. For some reason, when you type 'better balance' into any search engine, you get these serene looking women, on the edge of a rock, giving it the big "Omm". This is not my experience of life and I'm guessing it's not yours either. The reality is a crazy concoction of Zoom calls, school runs and house work that never seems to end. Anyway, I had to have a chat with him that went a bit like this. "You know that photo? It looks a bit like a Tampax advert. It has to go". There was also another picture of a happy woman playing a ukulele. I have nothing against the ukulele but, again, it painted a saccharin covered version of the truth. I am keen to portray women over 40 as they are, in real life. We do not romp through lavender fields looking wistful. We manage multiple priorities and we get stuff done.
I went on several stock photo sites to look for 'empowered women', 'strong women' and what I discovered was quite shocking. On most of the sites, I found hundreds of pictures of young, beautiful women - showing their passion, attitude and strength. Every now and again, there were images of elderly women, showing their attitude and fire. Whilst I admire all of these things, what was depressing was the lack of representation of the over 40 woman. It was almost as if the middle aged woman was not seen as empowered or strong. In many ways, this is what we see in society and the media. When you go beyond 40, it's almost like you are erased or at best overlooked. We become the invisible women. Not really interesting enough to pay much attention to. We hear female actors talking about this more and more in the media, as the number of roles open to them dwindle. What we have seen in recent years are many of these women starting their own production companies and finding scripts and characters that truly represent the strong, empowered middle-aged woman. Think 'Big Little Lies'.
After hours of searching, I did manage to find some images, but I had to work to find them. I'll be honest, this left me feeling a little bit deflated. Why are women of our age not given the air time time they deserve?
You and I know that the over 40 women is a force to be reckoned with. We have experience, skills and resilience that add so much to our workplaces, communities and families. We are role models, innovators and rocks for those around us. It is time that we were both seen and heard.
So what can we do?
Use your voice when you get the opportunity. Speak your mind and share what you know as this will help others.
Push yourself out of your comfort zone. This is when you will achieve great things and inspire others.
Challenge yourself not to be confined by age. Brilliance is possible at any age if you want something badly enough.
Visualise how you want to behave and what you want to achieve. Focus on what you want, not what you don't want and take steps to make it happen.
Society is changing. Once upon a time, women of middle-age were seen as 'old'. Now, we are vital, able and going for it. It's time for our close up. Camera, action, lights!
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