The Stealth Senior Woman: Invisibility Is My Super Power

  |   By Elisabeth Dale

Now that I'm in my 60s, I'm noticing the advantages of being a senior woman. 

I'm not talking about AARP discounts, either. I've written about being bad-ass and feeling free to do as I please---whether it's stand-up comedy, a new hairstyle, or posing in my pretty underthings. But why am I willing to take those risks now?

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Reading a recent article about the award-winning actress Frances McDormand put things into perspective for me. Older women are invisible, to both men and women. Some people lament that existence; they feel lost in a world where everyone celebrates youth or think it's a shame senior women are missing from the pages of fashion magazines.

senior woman

Frances McDormand
Credit: Katy Grannan for The New York Times

But I feel the exact opposite. And in that New York Times feature on McDormand, I found the perfect quote from poet Mary Ruefle. It sums up my current state of mind:

You are a woman, the ten years [of menopause] have passed, you love your children, you love your lover, but there are no longer any persons on earth who can stop you from being yourself. ... You would never want to be a girl again for any reason at all, you have discovered that being invisible is the biggest secret on earth, the most wondrous gift anyone could ever have given you.

Invisibility is my new superpower. It allows me to walk in the world, unafraid and untethered by any expectations. Even in the age of non-stop news and cellphone alerts, there are fewer distractions. I'm finally free to be me. Not a wife. Not a mother. Not a daughter. Nothing else. Just me.

The only rules now are there are no rules. So if any younger women want a look into their possible future, I've narrowed down my power of invisibility to a few specifics:

Fashion Rules

Whether it's about dress, demeanor, or advanced degrees, it doesn't matter. A senior woman wears whatever she pleases. The latest fashion trends (which aren't targeted to my demographic anyway) don't tie me down. Now I repurpose clothes I put away for a few years. I have no interest in a closet-full of fashions because I know it is temporary and fleeting. That said, I've got a fabulous collection of shoes!

older woman

Image: Advanced Style Instagram

No More Fucks to Give

As a senior woman, I say whatever I please. This is most evident in my stand-up routine. But rudeness isn't my goal. I'm not holding my tongue if some outrageous behavior needs calling out. Right before the recent Presidential election, I was in a waiting room getting a tire repaired while the lobby television blasted some Fox News anti-Hillary headlines. The man behind the counter was snickering and, looking at me, said, "oh, I hope I'm not offending you." My response? "Well, that's good to know. Otherwise, I might have to jump this counter and grab you by the pussy." End of conversation.

Elisabeth Dale
Photo: Mikel Healey Photography
Hair & Makeup: Sarah Nelson Makeup

Zero Expectations

There are no expectations of me. I don't worry about lovers, being financially successful, famous, or if others approve of my lifestyle and choices. Since no one sees older women, there's nothing to presume.


Less is more in old age. Gone are my decades of accumulating shit. All those years of buying stuff to fill up houses results in a monthly storage bill. Forget fancy cars, restaurants, or trips around the world. I'm content to spend time with friends and family, who may not always be around.

senior woman

Elisabeth Dale
Photo: Mikel Healey Photography
Hair & Makeup: Sarah Nelson Makeup

No Time to Waste

Second only to having no more fucks to give is having no more time to waste. When time is precious, you cut what's inessential. That may be a toxic friend or relative or simplifying your work or home routines. I've opened up my life to new experiences, instead. Always wanted to do stand-up? Check. How about taking an improv class? Yes! And I don't need money to walk on the beach, take in a sunset, or stop and talk to a neighbor. My time is a gift I'm not wasting.

Finally, I haven't lost any of my desirability in my senior years. Far from it, I'm now attracting people of all ages into my circle of friends. Invisibility means I can appear out of nowhere, surprise the world with my charms, and lead a full life. Being invisible means my eyes are open to the potential within me.

How do you feel about getting older? Do you look forward to being an older woman?

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