I have discovered that the menopause gives you a superpower. I have become the Invisible Woman. Which is ironic given I am bigger than I have ever been in my life.
And this isn’t just me being maudlin. A recent poll found that 46 was the average age that women start to feel invisible.
Take today for example. I am waiting to get on the tram and a man steps practically through me and stands one inch in front of me so he can get on first. He didn’t see me at all as he rushed for the last available seat. He didn’t quite knock me over as I am a bit like a weeble in that I wobble a lot – but I don’t fall down. He didn’t seem me in fact til I ‘accidently’ stood on his foot. At the next stop though he leapt off the seat as if there was firework about to go off up his arse so he could help a gorgeous 20 something woman off the tram with her bag. I nicked his seat quicksmart.
At the lift at work two people just pushed straight past me, not even interrupting their conversation to acknowledge me. They didn’t ask what floor I want to get out at and just hit Floor 6 for themselves. They notice me though when I pressed all the buttons from Floor 1 to Floor 5 then departed on Floor one happy in the knowledge it will jolt up one floor at a time.ha ha. (I was going to take the stairs every time I was only doing one floor but I am going to wait til I get a fitbit so that I can officially record it each time). I go to the shops for some chocolate and a guy comes in and shouts over my head for fags – ’20 silk cut mate’. The shopkeeper also can’t see me as he goes to serve him first. But they see me when I say ‘EXCUSE ME I think you’ll find I was here first’ because invisible women aren’t supposed to speak up for themselves – they are supposed to accept their lot.Well I beg to feckin differ! Not me. Not now. Not ever. I’d recommend it – speaking up for yourself becomes easier and easier the more you do it. The snotty woman who told me not to take two of the (postage stamp sized) towels at the gym – I told her I was taking them and to have her manager waiting for me when i came out to discuss further if it was a problem. The shop assistant who gazed above my head while holding her hand out for my money – she finally saw me after I just stood still refusing to be ignored – and finally asked me for the money and even said please. The guy who marched past me when I stood aside for him who turned in shock when I shouted ‘you’re welcome’. The young woman who pushed up against me on the sale rail and looked at me in shock when I said ‘I think the phrase you are looking for is excuse me’. She was so stunned that I had a moment of horror thinking she was maybe deaf and mute and I had just been disabilityist – but turns out she was just totally shocked about an invisible woman actually talking. My friends 17 year old who said that Kim Kardashian was a feminist because she earned lots of money and did what she wanted with her body – who had the good grace to look embarrassed when I fell about laughing explaining to her that getting your arse and tits out is fine if you want to but for god’s sake don’t call it feminism.
I mean I know I’m not exactly Rosa Parks – but there is a thrill in small moments of being very visible – and giving zero fucks about what anyone thinks about it.
The list goes on. Doors swing back in my face. Bar people ignore me as the young and the beautiful walk in front of me to be served first. I am only represented in Tena lady and nutritional supplement adverts – I don’t exist to the sexy car adverts. Nobody stands up for me on the bus. Hairdressers gaze at themselves in the mirror as they work on my hair. Construction workers don’t lift their eyes from their doughnut and newspaper when I pass. On one memorable occasion I had my hair darkened and cut and felt most self conscious the next day til I realised not one fecker had noticed.
I can’t decide if this is a good or a bad thing. I go running sometimes (well I shuffle round the park with the dog about twice a month) and no one shouts ‘cor look at the arse on that’ because I am an invisible woman. I sit in Starbucks with a book and a latte without having to endure some fool ‘talking’ to me about what I am reading/why I am there etc. No more unwanted attention. Because I am an invisible woman. And often, I am grateful for the silence.
I wonder how much further I can take it. Would I be invisible to the John Lewis security guard? I wondered as I fingered their lovely but very expensive silk scarves. I resist though. I am waiting til I am in my 70s before I start properly shoplifting. If I don’t get caught I will sell my gains for cash to buy butter and chocolate and big purple hats. If I do get caught, prison is likely to be an improvement on the only care homes I will be able to afford (because the government took all my money away and won’t give it back as a pension til I am 107 which was NOT the deal I signed up to). Three good meals a day, lots of company; my own room with telly; access to education etc. My mum is a little concerned about this retirement plan and thinks I should up the pension contributions instead but I am not convinced my idea is not superior.
I was talking to a 50 year old head teacher friend of mine about this last week – and she was feeling rather pleased with herself. She had discovered an on-line poll her pupils had put together – rating her and the other female teachers out of 20. While having to be outwardly disapproving of the poll which objectified women – she was pleasantly surprised to find she had scored 19 as many of her younger and, as she perceived, more attractive colleagues had scored much lower. She put it down to her healthy vegetarian lifestyle and regular exercise plan with occasional shots of botox.
However… her joy was deflated the next day when it was uncovered that the score was the number of pints of beer the boys who had created the poll felt they would have to drink before ‘shagging’ the teacher in question.
When she told me about it we both laughed so much we wee’d a bit. And we realised that if she had been given that score at the age of 25 she would have been devastated. But with invisibility comes a subtler and stronger power than sexuality. An ability to laugh at yourself. An ability to speak up and be heard because you don’t really care any more about what people think.
Try it – it’s addictive… All hail the Invisible Woman!