June 26th, 2005

I actually got the idea for this blog from Kate. It’s something that I’ve thought about before and certainly experienced. Paulina (the eighties supermodel) wrote a wonderful article in a magazine about the subject. What am I talking about? Being invisible.

I’m not sure what exact year it happened, but sometime over the past few years I’ve become invisible. What do I mean by that? I mean men and women no longer notice me. Kate talks about how in life you’re either recognized as a threat or sexual. When you fail to fall into either category, you become invisible. Paulina said that happened to her when she turned 40. Now if you’ve never seen this woman, she’s gorgeous.

I became invisible when I started putting on weight. Not really a surprise. (I told the picture on my website was OLD.) I always assumed it was strictly because of my weight gain that people no longer noticed me. It never really occurred to me that it could be an age thing. (And no, I’m not forty yet.;) Also, I realize this doesn’t just happen to women. Many men go through the same thing.

If you’ve never experienced being invisible, I must say it’s a strange sensation. It’s almost as if you float through life observing. I equate it to being a ghost. Some ‘sensative’ people can catch a glimpse of you, but most have no idea you’re there, haunting their space. When you do have someone ‘see’ you, it shocks you so bad you don’t know how to respond. Boo!

I’m not sure how I feel about being invisible. Some days it’s painful, while others I feel nothing at all. Kate has chosen to celebrate being invisible. (Probably the smartest thing to do, since I don’t think you can ever become visible again once you’ve disappeared.) I’m still trying to workout how to deal with existing as Casper. I’m sure I’ll make peace with it eventually. Until then, I will have my good and bad days.

Has anyone else experienced this strange sensation? If so, how did you deal with it?

42 comments to “Invisible…”

  1. When I take my beautiful teenage daughter anywhere, I am completely invisible. Feels really weird!!! But truthfully, most of the time I’m invisible without her, LOL!

  2. LOL! Jill, That makes sense. 😀

  3. You mean Paulina Poriskova. Very beautiful.

    For three years when I was three sizes bigger I was invisible. But when I dropped the weight because of a drastic change in my diet, (due to being insulin resistant), and started lifting weights, I was no longer invisible.

    Now it feels strange not being invisible. But I’m 38, so I only have a couple of years before I’m invisible again! Hehehehe.

  4. Oh, hon, I’ve been invisible for years!! *ggg*

    Partly from being overweight, partly from not being ‘traditionally’ attractive, and partly from being a fairly quiet person–but there it is.

    And guess what? I’m FINE with it. I see more, hear more, learn more than many other people. And when I AM noticed, it’s because of something I do, or who I am, rather than what I look like.

    And the people who DO notice you are more apt to be sensitive, intelligent, caring souls who can look beyond just the physical ANYWAY.

    And maybe those are the people you’ll want to be visible to after all. 🙂

  5. And Jordan, I forgot to mention that I saw a pic of you at a convention you were at recently. I wish I could remember who’s blog it was on. But you *are* beautiful. I remember thinking how pretty you are, with your long dark hair and lovely round face. You are gorgeous.

    But just for the record, I’ve never judged anyone by their level of attractiveness. Ever. I mean, I have a crush on Richard Dreyfuss!

  6. Trace, I’m sure you have more than a couple years to be visible. *ggg*

  7. Raine, Now that is profound. Quite a take on the invisibility. Thanks for sharing. 😀

  8. Thanks Trace for the nice compliment. 😀 I wish I thought a round face was lovely. LOL!

  9. I’m invisable, except when I want to be. lol
    It’s weird, but I believ eit has nothing to do with looks, and everything to do with energy. Some days I feel closed down, and I can go to the mall, or even the pub, and nobody will notice me…I can do the exact same thing, in the same outfit, but in an open (for lack of a better word) mood and people notice me, smile, chat.

    In my opinion, it’s what you put out there comeing back to you.

    Make sense?

  10. Jordan, I didn’t mean a fat face!! I mean round face. Like Marissa Tomei or Tiffany Amber Thiessen!

  11. Sasha, I would definitely agree that energy effects whether people notice you or not. The question is how much? I still keep thinking about Paulina’s article. She believes it has something to do with age, particularly in women. This leads back to Kate’s theory of either you’re recognized as a threat or sexual. If you’re not seen as either category in the viewer’s mind, you become invisible.

  12. Trace, LOL! I knew what you meant. 😉 No worries.

  13. I think it’s an energy thing, too. I don’t find it so much with looks (I was never a head-turner) but with ideas. I’ll say an idea at a meeting or something (and I am not a soft-talker) and no one will respond. Then someone else will come up with the same exact idea and, “Wow, that’s BRILLIANT.”

    Yeah, I am the invisible woman.

  14. I like how Kate said that maybe we register as safe, but I also like Dream’s take on it too and for all the same reasons.

    I’m invisible. It doesn’t really bother me but I find the older I get the harder a time I have interracting with humanoids *g*

    Or maybe I only wish I were invisible. And I’m really not. People can see me when I think no one’s looking. I gotta work harder on that nose-picking thing.

  15. Goodness! I thought we discussing Clay Aiken’s lame song choices! What a relief!

  16. I’ve never really thought about this, so I’m not sure what I think. I think I feel invisible when I don’t wear makeup and I wear baggy t-shirts. Which I tend to do a lot…. Hmmm……

  17. I like this topic. My visibility has always been based on my weight and I’ve been invisible for quite some time now. But I’m getting older and I wonder if weight loss will make me visible again? Then I realized that I really don’t care. I like being invisible. I felt very self conscious when people saw me.

  18. I guess my question is if you’re invisible and no one sees you, then how do you know you really exist?

  19. Because your friends harass you. *g* I watched a biopic on Marilyn Monroe and one of her friends said she could walk down the street totally unnoticed. Then, like turning on a lightbulb, she would light up and attract a huge crowd within moments. She said Marilyn could make herself invisible when she wanted. I agree with Sasha that it’s something that comes from within. (I’ll be blogging about this later.) ((hugs)) from a friend who sees you just fine.

  20. Thanks Sylvia & everyone else for sharing your comments. It’s given me a lot to think about.

  21. CJ, You’re such a goofball. *ggg*

  22. Monica, I felt self-conscious too. The thing that concerns me has to do with the fact that as an author you must put yourself out there in order to attract notice. I realize this is not based on appearance, thank goodness, but you still have to be ‘seen’. How can you do that if you’re invisible?

  23. I grew up with a gorgeous, charming sister, the quintessential California chic blonde. I never attracted much attention except by unfavorable and incredulous comparison. I spent most of my youth wishing I was dead or her.
    I had my years of reasonably pretty, which I didn’t appreciate because I still wasn’t my sister, but I’m definitely invisible now. And I really like it. Success in other areas than looks gave me permission to be the chubby, middle-aged, not-stunning person I am without feeling inferior or guilty. I think I’m finally comfortable with myself, too. That’s something I wasn’t when I could turn a few, near-sighted heads.
    God has a sense of humor, btw. My daughter is charming, tall and blonde, like a beautiful Barbie doll. She’s well on her way to stunning, but she also has my brain. She could care less how she looks, too — total tomboy. I consider her my payback for my miserable youth.

  24. I’m so confused about the whole aging thing! I’ll think someone is older than I am only to find out I’m nearly a decade older than they are. Or I’ll strike a conversation with an older woman, someone I consider a grandmotherly type, and she’ll turn out to be just a few years older than I am. Gulp.

    I’ve been steadily losing weight due to better food choices. Now I see my old figure emerging–but how do I dress it? I don’t want to look like I’m man hunting. Don’t want to look sloppy. Don’t want to look like one of my daughters… I don’t know if I want to be visible or invisible!

  25. I’m totally with Sasha on this one. I’m heavy, 31, and I get noticed because I’m a lunatic and hyper and loud. However, when I’m not feeling well, or I’m grumpy, I shut down and no one looks at me at all. It’s all about personality and energy. I’m thinking that the supermodel you mentioned was already sensitive about getting older (older model means no work) so she’s probably subconsciously shutting down and not realizing it.

    There was a tv documentary a few years ago that had a gorgeous, thin, but noncommnicative woman at a bar versus an average, round, very bubbly woman. The heavier woman got the most attention because of her energy and personality. No one approached the gorgeous moody woman. It’s all about the vibe.

  26. I’ve seen you in person at this last RT, Jordan, you’re gorgeous. If anyone looks past you, they’re the one with the problem, not you.

  27. Sometimes being invisible is a blessing. (Especially if it’s summer and I’m at the pool ) But seriously, we’re in a society that puts so much emphasis on a certain type of beauty, if you don’t live up to that, you’re right, you become invisible. How do I deal with it? Several years ago I made peace with the fact that there would always be someone more beautiful, more intelligent, more talented, thinner, richer, (and the list goes on…) than me, and if we were in the same room, she’d manage to sit right next to me. But she’ll never make a better “me”, because there’s only one – and she ain’t it. 🙂 I may be invisible, but I’m unique and I’m happy. And for the record, that beautiful, talented, skinny, rich, intelligent woman actually asked me to knock her down, stand on her back and shout “Look at meeeeeee!!!”

  28. PBW, Perhaps when I achieve some level of success, I’ll feel the same way about invisibility. That’s funny about your daughter. 😀

  29. Becca, It is all terribly confusing. I don’t think I have age issues as much as appearance issues. I don’t expect to look 28 anymore. I’d just like to look good for my age. As for fashion, you’ve come to the wrong place. I’ve never been fashionable a day in my life. I’m going for the ‘classic’ design…whatever that means.

  30. Tracy, That’s interesting. The responses are definitely split between energy and appearance. Both are entwined.

  31. Thank you, Adrienne.

  32. Eve, LOL! You go. LOL! I’m not talking about comparing myself to others. That’s fairly useless…unless it’s with my writing. *ggg* I’m talking about invisibility in general. I’m sure the feeling of invisibility would be maddening, if I based it on how I stack up to others. :-O

  33. Hmm… I’d say I started experimenting that “invisible” feeling this year at one of my critique groups.

  34. Silma, If your critique group isn’t seeing you, it’s time to find a new group. 😀

  35. Like you, I turned invisible when I gained weight. Before then I was noticed quite a lot, now I’m rarely noticed which sometimes is good and other times is bad. There are times when you just want to get through the day unnoticed because it’s one hellacious day and you don’t feel like talking to anyone and that’s usually when people want to talk to you. : ) Then there are days when you are a tad lonely and would like to have someone to talk to but inevitably those are the days you are invisible.
    Being invisible is hard at times but at other times it’s exactly what I need. I’m not sure if it’s a blessing or a curse. 😀

  36. Anne, I’m still undecided too.

  37. Interesting. First, I always notice you Jordan! Second, I think people notice, but don’t always react. I know I observe a lot of things/people and don’t always stare at them or react, but I do notice.

    I’ve been invisible since high school, because I’ve never been the popular one or the beautiful one. I’ve also gained weight and gotten older. I’m shy, but I started saying “hi here I am!” Amazing how people don’t overlook you when you get in their face. The good thing is that I can turn it on and off, so when I want to fade into the woodwork, I can.

    Women don’t have to be overlooked. Don’t let yourself be.

    Jennifer’s “sisters stand up” lecture for the day. 🙂

  38. Thanks Jennifer! I’ll have to experiment with it like you did to see what happens. I’m standing up right now. 😉

  39. Jordan,

    As someone who feels the same authorial pain on this subject, I’d like to suggest that maybe invisibility is a positive indicator in a weird way. I can’t remember where I read it, but I saw the point made that reader communities love to pat most newbie writers on the head, offer them encouragement, etc. Once that newbie has become somewhat *established*, the head patting, back rubs, what have you, STOP (until the author gets into the highest stratosphere and mere sightings of her pulling out a pen can cause even the most caustic soccer mom to faint dead away with pleasure).

    Perhaps you came on the scene with an aura of being established. No one thought it was necessary to stroke your writer’s ego with words of encouragement. At least, this is what I try to comfort myself with when I feel invisible (pretty much always) as a writer.


  40. Ann, That’s another interesting take on the subject. I have been known to give that kind of vibe on occasion. Hmm… It never occurred to me. This invisibility thing is far more complicated than I first suspected.

  41. I’ve been invisible and it has as much to do with my own self-esteem as people’s disregard for those they feel are not worth their notice. I was never what you might consider heavy, a bit pudgy perhaps but more voluptuous than overweight. I take care of myself, eat right, excercise regularly and feel good about who I am. Yes, I am probably a fair bit younger than the rest of you but that just means you can offer better advice and experience. 😉

    I agree there are times when being invisible is a welcome relief, and it really does have to do with what sort of energy you’re putting out. If you don’t want to be noticed you do everything you can to avoid, whether it’s looking down, acting withdrawn or being extremely focused on your goal. If I don’t want to be bothered I find myself doing all of these things and more. Yes, being invisible definitely has its good moments. 😉

  42. Shannon, Another vote for the energy thing. Good luck with the upcoming dance in August and the Arabic class. We bought an Arabic language tutorial the other day. It’s going to be rough. I have major pronunciation issues. *ggg*