Invisible

Posted: May 6th, 2013 by Paula

Friday night a girl walks into a bar.

Only she’s not a girl at all, but a middle-aged woman.

That middle-aged woman is me.

The bar is packed with young, enthusiastic, attractive kids who’ve arrived from their jobs and/or flats full of roommates and hope to start their evenings and life journeys. I’m at the end of mine. And in this place, I have never felt more out of place.

I lean against the bar to talk to my friends who urged me to come, even though I’ve got a good 20+ years on most of them, (knocked down to 10 in the dark and flattering bar light) and realize, to my horror, that no one is looking at me.

It’s not that I look bad; I was having an excellent hair day, felt comfortable in my big pair of men’s Levi’s and small Jockey wife-beater that took an hour to settle on and seconds to assemble, not wanting to look too put-together for such a casual, what-the-fuck outing. It’s just that nothing that I did, save from wearing a ghost costume, would turn me 25.

Last month, collapsed across my therapist’s couch, I whined about the many ways getting older sucks, and how it seems that almost overnight I have become, well, old, at least compared to everyone else I work with, walk by, eat across from or downward-dog next to.

“Well,” she says, “Wait until you are my age, when you don’t just look older, but you are so old no one looks. You become invisible.”

I am obviously terrified by this and curl up into a tight ball.

“Oh no,” says my therapist. “It was upsetting at first, but after a while, it becomes liberating.” She went on. “Because I realized I could truly do anything I want, and no one would judge or care because no one would see.”

I continue to be terrified by this. If no one looks, or cares, why get up in the morning? Why get dressed, or care about what dress to wear?

I suppose I will always care. I want to care. And maybe this fact should give us all the courage to really be and do and wear anything and everything and do it for ourselves. And thrive on all of this transparency. The stage is ours alone.

Back to the bar.

If I’m being honest here, I start to feel, well, relieved that this is all well behind me. Those years, as exhilarating as they were, were also exhausting. Would I trade places with those adorable young girls around me, Brazilian blow-outed and Brazilian waxed, desperate to land a promotion and the next Mark Zuckerberg?

No. And while they anxiously check their lipstick and iphones, I quietly go home to my husband and cats. Invisible.

And one thing is clear: it pays to be invisible. This shit is expensive.

invisible style: martin margiela, courreges, karen walker, simone rocha, blankstareblink.com

1: Karen Walker “Space Bug” sunglasses, KarenWalker.com. 2: Courreges transparent ring, ahalife.com. 3: 202 Factory plastic clutch, OpeningCeremony.com. 4: Maison Michel “Bibi Yoko” rain hat, colettefr.com. 5: MM6 Maison Martin Margiela PVC ankle boots, BergdorfGoodman.com. 6: Simone Rocha plastic skirt, LaGarconne.com. 7: Valentino trench coat, MyTheresa.com.

11 Comments

  • May 6, 2013 - 7:43 pm | Permalink

    I can so relate to this post Paula. I often feel that way on the photo shoots I work on. I’m not the youngest person on set, but one of the oldest. I try not to let how I look, affect how I feel. Although, in my business and yours (fashion), they’re often intertwined. I think how we help our peers (you and Jen with fashion, me with makeup), is a gift in that we can help other ladies age gracefully and with style.

  • Paula
    May 6, 2013 - 8:25 pm | Permalink

    Thanks so much for this reply, Stacy. I always have to remind myself that I’m not alone in feeling this way, even though I did Friday night. And any more tips you can share with our readers would be wonderful. I’m finding, at least with makeup, that less is more. I used to pile it on when I was younger, as many young women do now. Perhaps it part feeling more comfortable in my skin, and part that make-up settling into wrinkles on old skin looks…old. xoxo

  • Carrie
    May 7, 2013 - 12:03 am | Permalink

    Hey Paula,
    You are awesome as you are. We need to think ahead and not look back so much on the looks. Don’t you think you look really good? Don’t compare yourself to a 20 something or even a 30 something, just be the best you can be. I know this sounds dopey, but if we remind each other of this we will all be okay. I am not in a career like yours, my students have always thought I was older than dirt. Well, I’m getting there fast but I can still run faster and jump higher than most of the students in my class. Hehe.
    Love your posts!

  • Paula
    May 7, 2013 - 2:11 am | Permalink

    Ah, thanks Carrie! Intellectually I know all of this, but sometimes, well, man, it’s hard. I do happen to work in a VERY YOUNG field which can be a bit depressing. But I do feel better about the way I look “for my age” than I ever have in my life, and feel better too, which is awesome. And yes, when I can do a handstand longer than the kid next to me in yoga, it feels spectacular. Thanks for the kind words — xoxo

  • Chris
    May 13, 2013 - 2:23 am | Permalink

    A lot of those adorable young girls, Brazilian blow-outed and Brazilian waxed, want a husband and cats…
    :-)

    • Paula
      May 13, 2013 - 4:16 am | Permalink

      Chris, you do have a point! I guess no matter who we are or where we are in life, the grass is always greener…thanks for your comment, and thanks for reading our blog. xoxo

  • May 13, 2013 - 4:46 pm | Permalink

    When I was 30 and newly and happily divorced, I went to a bar/restaurant with a friend & not wanting to leave, went over to the bar for a drink after dinner. It was a time when the drinking age in NYC was 18. Well, all the guys at the bar with their fake proof could have been my children (if I was Teen Mom). But, I met a (5 years younger) guy that night who thought I was “cute” in my white Norma Kamali sweatsuit. We’re now married for 26 years. Yes, I feel old, not in my state of mind, but in my body. I’ve had 2 cataract surgeries, skin cancer, an ovary removed, hepatitis, and now I need bunion surgery. (How will I ever wear all my shoes again?) Getting older physically is not always pleasant but it has given me the confidence to wear what I want, just like your therapist said. It is truly liberating. I don’t give a shit what anyone thinks. There is nothing riding on it except me making me feel good. And my husband likes it because he never knows how I’m going to look. Maybe I’m invisible to the world now, but I’m not to the people that count, my family, and my friends. And I suppose it’s the same for you too. And btw, the wife beater with oversized Levis (one of my go-tos also), was a great choice!

  • Paula
    May 13, 2013 - 5:27 pm | Permalink

    Andrea, your comment has given me the biggest smile and made my day. What a wonderful story! And by the way, I used to sport much Norma Kamali fleece back in the day, so wish I still had it. I’m never sure if it’s a blessing or a curse to feel so young on the inside and then catch that reflection in a window or mirror that screams otherwise. But you are right about that “don’t give a shit what anyone thinks” as the older I get, the less I care, and that is a huge victory earned from years of practice.
    BTW, when I went to a bar right after my divorce a few years ago, being around so many younger people caused me to drink too much, resulting in a DUI, which ended up being the best thing that ever happened to me and helped me land my current husband and true love of my life. He’s 11 years older — which is a great way to always be “younger.” xoxo

    • May 19, 2013 - 8:05 pm | Permalink

      Paula,
      Thank you for your reply to my comment. Yours made me smile too! Funny how when you think things are never going to get better, something happens and it eventually does. Btw, I’m the one who met Jennifer while I was waiting on line at the CdG sale last week. Talking to her was the highlight of my day, better even than the sale! I would love to meet up with you guys if you come to Fashion Week again. I even live on the Upper West Side & never go over there during fashion week, but it would be so fun to go with like minded people and hang out.

      • Paula Mangin
        May 20, 2013 - 12:56 am | Permalink

        She told me and so now I know. It made her so happy to be recognized by a reader, you have no idea. It made her day meeting you, she called me right away. Thanks so much for your support, and yes, would love to meet you in September when I fly out for fashion week. Let’s plan on it. xoxo

  • Pingback: blank stare, blink » Freaky Friday

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>