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Do people turn invisible at 60?

March 24, 2012


Somewhere during the last decade, I seem to have been erased and replaced by an imposter who has taken on the drabness of the foggy morning sky. 

I walked by a busy construction sight this morning expecting a few suggestive hoots. All I heard were bees buzzing around looking for a tasty morsel. No whistles, no cat calls. I might as well have been a stray cat creeping by.

Hang all the hype about how 60 is the new 40, or 50 is the new 30. It’s more likely that 60 is the new 60, and I’m overdue for my 60,000 mile tune-up. 

When did I become a bad copy of my former self? Maybe I should dress in flamboyant reds and yellows and dump the sweats. Do people, especially women become invisible around age 60?

I’m a good girl. I pay my bills on time. I follow the rules and never park in the handicapped spaces. Yet I feel I’m off my game. So I did what any practical woman would do under the circumstances. She goes shopping.  

I waltzed into the department store and instantly became dizzy. Swirling around the display were orange polka dots and cotton candy pinks. The large graphic prints assaulted me and set my teeth on edge.  

Determined to buy a dress, I pulled a nice pink frock off the rack and did a double take. Had I wandered into the maternity section? Beside it was a cute little paisley number, but little was the operative word.  The company must have run out of fabric because the skirt was less than 12 inches long. Maybe it was a blouse, I don’t know.
I noticed a beautiful voile piece but you could see slap through the fabric. My church would kick me out for indecent exposure. I got the attention of the young clerk — no small task when you are the invisible woman. I asked where I could find more classic styles — the kind Grace Kelly would wear.

She gave me a blank stare and mumbled, “Who’s Grace Kelly. Is she a model or somethin’?” I left the store without trying on a single garment. 

Embracing old age isn’t bad if you can appreciate your accrued wisdom and feel comfortable in skin that has mysteriously become two sizes too big. 

I guess dignity has become overrated. A recent magazine article reported that research has revealed that “dressing old” can make you feel and behave older. Most people try to dress appropriately for their age, so clothing in effect becomes a lightening rod for ingrained attitudes about age. I guess it’s better to be a mutton dressed as a lamb than a mutton dressed as mutton.
Emily Jones is a retired journalist who edits a website for bouncing baby boomers facing retirement. She welcomes comments at

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