Things that no one told me about being 40:
- That headstands are no longer a party trick I can pull off without vomiting
- That trampolining is only for those mums who bothered with their pelvic floor exercises
- That on my 40th birthday I would be gifted an invisibility cloak that I would wear unwittingly for all eternity.
My invisibility cloak is really powerful. It can do the following:
- make my legitimate place in a queue null and void, allowing other queuers to take their place just in front of me, but not before they've stepped on my unseen toes.
- render me utterly unnoticeable in shops, clothes shops in particular. It matters not if the shop is full, or if I'm the only customer, I can browse to my heart's content without anyone asking if they can assist me, or take my chosen items to the changing room for my convenience.
- allow buses and taxis to carry on their journeys, unburdened by the need to pick up a desperately waving traveller who is undetectable to the naked eye.
- liberate staff at cafes and restaurants to serve younger, as well as older clients, while ignoring the inconspicuous woman in the middle (both physically and metaphorically speaking), with the grumbling stomach and the raging thirst.
- make me more conscious of my mortality, by rendering me imperceptible to cars approaching zebra crossings.
For all its awesome power, my invisibility cloak does have one major flaw. It always stops working when I 'have a fall' (which is middle-aged for falling over).
You may think I exaggerate, but the above examples all happened to me in just one day, compelling me to write this blog.
My initial response to being ignored was to fight back with "excuse me, I was here first" and screaming at passing buses. But more recently, I've just become grumpy.
A shop assistant actually said to me "sorry, I didn't see you there" and instead of smiling with her and buying the items in my basket, I just put my shopping down and walked out.
Perhaps I have positive dysmorphia, but when I look in the mirror, I see the same person I saw 10, even 15 years ago, staring back at me.
I'm not asking to be whistled at by leering workmen: that's objectifying and degrading. And I do not miss passers-by commenting 'oy, cheer up, might never happen' just because I have a bitchy resting face.
I realise the intellectual justifications: that we live in a society that values youth over experience; that the media projects an unattainable vision of beauty etc. But the point is that invisibility happened to me pretty much overnight.
I'm short, but have always been so. I smile and make eye contact, but always have. None of this is new. The only thing that has changed is my age.
Who sent the memo telling everyone to ignore us once we hit 40?
Or perhaps I'm the only one and you think this is nonsense? Let me know! Visit the blog to leave a comment, I always reply.