Remember the ’60s?
The 1960s that is… when “outta sight” referenced something cool and hip?
In the 60s, that “something” could have been a Baby Boomer girl/woman. Well, that ship seems to have sailed and now we are just plain “out of sight.”
Last fall I visited New York City with four other similarly aged Moms. Since that time I’ve pondered the societal status of Baby Boomer women. On one hand, Baby Boomer women (Lady Boomers as I’ve dubbed us) are nearly 40 million strong and enjoy much focus from the media, marketers, and merchants. On the other hand, baby boomer women tend to be invisible. I realize I’m not the first to say this, but being in hip, cool NYC brought this fact into full relief for me.
Now, let me be quick to point out I, at 63, was the oldest among a former lawyer, television anchor, pharmacist, and practicing lawyer. However, for the sake of this column, I’m lumping our 57-63 selves into this same age cohort.
The first clue I had about our invisibility status was at a comedy club Caroline’s On Broadway. Our table was virtually abutting the stage, and thus, became a convenient part of the show and the butt of many jokes. According to the young male hosts and comedians, the five of us share the same hairstyle – “just like Hillary’s”. (First of all, I would love to have Hillary’s hair or at least her stylist at my disposal. Not one of the five of us believe our hairstyles resemble each other, but you be the judge)
The comics dismissed us as women who were well beyond child-bearing years (quite true, but nevertheless, a stinging retribution). There were other clues us Boomer Women are invisible: cab drivers ignoring our hails and ticket takers avoiding eye contact while taking our stubs.
But, there were and are advantages to being a Boomer Woman….
Our age and various infirmities enabled us to jump the queue in the 45 minute line to enter the 9/11 museum, a big help escaping the cold wind and rain. We always had a seat on the subway. My friend Melissa Swann’s 31 year tenure as an anchor on the CBS Affiliate in Louisville, Kentucky enabled us to get a tour of the control room and set of the CBS Morning News show, meeting Charlie Rose and Gail King. One of the other moms in our group was able to obtain backstage access to a Broadway play because of her daughter’s relationship with the female lead.
One of my travel companions said the following about the freedom afforded us by our invisibility:
“We could smoke a bong on fifth avenue and the police would assume someone else was blowing smoke in our faces!“
(Not that we tested this theory)
I guess while our sex appeal may have waned, the experience and freedom afforded us by all these life years is irreplaceable. And let’s say it… Being in our 60s is priceless.
Check out this book Calling Invisible Women. Jeanne Ray describes a woman who awakens one morning to discover she is invisible and her family doesn’t even notice.
What is your experience as a Lady Boomer? Do you feel ignored or invisible or unimportant? Or do you think your experience has lead you to be able to go out on a limb more, and feel more comfortable in your own skin than ever before?
What are your thoughts? Are we outta sight (because we’re so cool and hip), or out of sight (and out of other people’s minds)?
Liz Kitchens is a writer and blogger. Her blog, Be Brave. Lose the Beige, reaches out to Lady Boomers, women of the Baby Boomer generation. Liz also blogs for Growing Bolder and Vibrant Nation, two sites devoted to aging issues. Liz conducts workshops on the health benefits of creativity and is an ambassador for the Creative Caregiving Initiative sponsored by the NCCA, The National Center for Creative Aging. Liz founded the Jeremiah Project, an after school and summer creative arts program designed to foster self esteem and encourage creative thinking among at risk middle school aged students.