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Do women feel invisible to the opposite sex at 51.

invisible.jpegArticle by Ceri Wheeldon

As a new survey claims that women feel invisible to the opposite sex at 51.  If  you had been one of the 2000 women asked to participate, would you have responded in the same way?

I have to say that this particular survey seems to convey a pretty grim outlook on life over 50 – it would be interesting to see precisely what questions were asked.

These are just some of the findings:

  • Many went as far as to admit they felt ‘ignored’.
  • The women who said their confidence plummeted after hitting 50 blamed the fact their hair was greying or they were having to wear glasses, while others found it harder to find fashionable clothes.
  • The lifestyle study, commissioned by herbal remedies company, A.Vogel, also found more than two thirds of women over 45 had walked into a room and felt ‘completely unnoticed’ by the opposite sex.
  • More than half said they felt ‘left on the shelf’ and that they’d been ‘judged negatively’ because of their age.
  • The study also found just 15% of women over 45 could claim they had high or very high confidence while, sadly, nearly half described themselves as not very confident at all.
  • The biggest reason for a decline in self-belief was the feeling that their image had deteriorated.
  • A dejected four in ten said not getting attention from men like they used to was a factor, more than half had felt intimidated by the presence of younger women at a social event.
  • A concerned six in ten of the 2,000 studied felt modern life is geared toward a focus on younger women, while 46% thought that a lot of what older women go through wasn’t seen or spoken about.

The menopause and confidence

  • The research also examined the effect the menopause has on women’s confidence as they age.
  • The results showed around one in five who had experienced menopausal symptoms had difficulty in finding answers to the questions they had about the changes they were facing.
  • In fact, only 13% felt women were well supported in the lead up to the menopause.

The research, which also involved 500 men, showed many have a ‘head in the sand’ approach to the menopause.

“The results show a worrying decline in confidence and self-worth in women when faced with the prospect of growing older.The world can feel very geared toward appreciating younger women, leaving those of a certain age to feel neglected or less worthy” according to a spokesperson for the company who commissioned the survey.

What are your thoughts?

In terms of answers to questions on the menopause, we have lots of information, including a series of video interviews with Dr Marilyn Glenville which hopefully offer a measure of support .

I think the one finding that I found most disturbing was feeling intimidated by younger women at a social event . I would love to hear your thoughts on this, especially as another survey indicated that women felt their most confident at 52.





Ceri Wheeldon

Ceri is Founder and Editor of Fabafterfifty.co.uk She is a frequent speaker at events and in the media on topics related to women over 50 , including style and living agelessly. With 20+ years experience as a headhunter Ceri also now helps support those looking to extend their working lives.

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  1. Rebecca

    March 25, 2014

    I too would love to know what questions they asked and where they had found their sample of 2000 women. I wonder how much it says about the women themselves? There are so many differing views on midlife and life as a women over 50. I read something the other day that gave the polar opposite view, saying that women over 50 felt sexier and more alive and confident than at any other time in their lives!

    You and I are both feeling ‘fab after 50’!

  2. Arlene Ainsley

    March 25, 2014

    I feel that my life really got going at 50! After years of looking after my family and running a business with my now ex-husband I found myself unemployed and alone at 48. By the time I was 50 I was in a new job that I loved and making new friends! I was happier and felt more attractive than ever. I was (and still am) taken as being 10 years younger than I am!
    I’m now approaching 60 with some anxiety but looking forward to what life brings! I do feel “left on the shelf” at times but am generally happy in my own skin and enjoy a fulfilling career as well as spending time with family and friends!

  3. Morag

    March 25, 2014

    I would say yes I agree – but – for me, this is the best period of my life. I have never felt as confident as I do now, nor have I ever been able to find my own style, I have now. To be very honest I don’t give a dam if the opposide sex doesn’t notice me when I walk into a room, I am happy I have a partner. Even without a partner I now feel happy in my own skin.

  4. Style Compass

    March 25, 2014

    I agree with Morag totally. It’s a great article but I find it really worrying that some woman feel this way and particularly about feeling intimidated by younger women. I have always been a confident soul and loved the response I got in walking in to a room, in my twenties. However it was an act because I didn’t have the experience to know any better. Sometimes I had to really psyche myself up big time.
    Ok, so I haven’t got the figure I had back then but essentially its the same and I’m working on reducing the ‘total added investment in adipose tissue’ at the moment! What I do have is an innate ability to stand tall and smile and feel comfortable with who I am. Experience and wisdom with people from all walks of life have given me skills that make me think anything is possible. Added to that my new husband does not stop telling me throughout the day, how much he loves me. Maybe the article does not apply to me as I’m still 50 but I intend to highly visible from here on x

  5. Sharron Hinchliff

    March 25, 2014

    Seems to me that this survey is just reinforcing stereotypes about women and ageing. Assumptions abound that we loose confidence in our age, feel bad because we are no longer young, hate that we have ‘lost’ our looks. While I’m not saying that some women don’t feel these things – we are only human after all – I think many women love their older selves, feel more confident, and view their sense of attractiveness outside of the young=beautiful ideal.

    I question how the survey was carried out (methods, sample, data analysis) and who funded it (a company with an interest in menopause). Maybe we are witnessing a repeat of the 1960s pharma sponsored doctors who claimed that taking hormone therapy would keep menopausal women ‘feminine forever’?

  6. Sue Westwood

    March 25, 2014

    I noticed the wolf whistles diminishing in my late forties, then stopping in my early fifties. Although a welcome relief, I felt oddly unsettled. Although I wanted to be noticed for more than my looks, I discovered I felt it was better to be noticed in a sexist way than not at all. Now, in my late fifties, that sense of loss has passed and I enjoy the freedom not being regarded as ‘sexual meat’ and not being subjected to the evaluative sexual gaze of heterosexual men is a huge relief. In fact when a man, rarely now, does give me the eye, I feel surprised, and wonder why. I have forgotten it used to happen all the time. What irks me much more is how younger people don’t notice me. Unless I make a fuss, I am the last to get served in a bar these days. Queuing to get on a bus or a train, I get funneled to the end of the queue, as if I am a stray suitcase or something. Walking along the street, at the shops, or even at work (university) young people bumped into me, and then look accusingly at me as if I have suddenly materialised from nowhere. It’s not that they see me and discount me, it’s that they don’t see me. I am not on their radar of significance. I don’t count. And that bugs me. These days I march determinedly along, preferring them to bump into me, and get annoyed, than side-step (often into the road) to avoid the bump. I’d rather make myself visible, even if it hurts, than collude with my own invisibility.

  7. Savvy Working Gal

    March 25, 2014

    I am 51. The biggest change for me is my attitude. I no longer care (as much) what others – both men and women think when I enter a room. I actually feel good about my appearance, but no longer feel I have to be perfectly coiffed. I spent the weekend taking care of my mom who had surgery. My aunts paraded through her home dressed, coiffed with perfect makeup. I wore the same sweats two days in a row, didn’t bother to put my contacts in, style my hair or put on makeup. It is very freeing. I also no longer stuff my feet into uncomfortable shoes. My life is at least 50% over, I want to spent the rest of my days in comfort and having new experiences – not beautifying.

  8. Deborah

    March 25, 2014

    I don’t believe that there was any such survey.

    If there was. ..they probably asked men!

  9. ceril campbell

    March 28, 2014

    being invisible at 51 is not about being invisible to men as if we still look and feel our best and present ourselves well with great personality
    we are not ignored and we are included and chatted to
    single at 51 means that on thw whole we are
    not chosen to be their girlfriends
    men of our own age who are successful and also have looked after themselves can now have the choice of girls age 25+ because they can
    and the girls will.
    so there’s the problem
    not that we’re invisible but the men have a smorgasboard of choice

  10. Catherine King

    April 7, 2014

    It is tragic that there are so many women out there who are feeling invisible post fifty. It seems as though a lot more work needs to be done celebrating the successes of women over fifty and those that exude confidence. As far as image is concerned, there are many tricks of the trade that can be done such as a simple hair colour to really help boost the ladies self confidence. Hopefully over time, women over fifty will feel more and more confident.

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