Friday, 17 June 2011


I had a funny conversation with one of my daughters recently when I told her that during my first pregnancy I went from my office to the local shop each day and bought myself a pork pie and a tomato for my lunch – and that in fact on some days I went more than once (pork pies didn’t have quite such a reputation as a “bad food” in those days). She was surprised that I didn’t find it embarrassing that the shop staff would notice my heavy consumption of pork pies, but in fact it had never occurred to me that anyone would have noticed. I just made my transaction and left without any conversation to draw attention to myself, so assumed that I was invisible. I have suffered from this sense of invisibility all my life. I never expect people to recognise me when I meet them again.

It’s a commonly held view that after a certain age women become “invisible” and in some respects this may be true, but I have noticed over recent years that people in the street are much more likely to greet me with a smile. I think this has a lot to do with me looking more approachable as I get older. As an intensely shy young woman I think I probably gave the impression of being rather aloof and unfriendly, as I walked briskly along trying to look “cool” with my cheeks sucked in, my nose in the air and afraid to make eye contact with anyone. These days I wander around with a slightly bemused half smile and am reaping the benefit in smiles from strangers. I have started consciously allowing myself to make eye contact with people because I no longer fear that it will be misunderstood as anything except friendliness.
I even have conversations with people in shops! It's always possible that I'm creating a new impression as a crazy person (and my increasing deafness can certainly lead to some odd non sequiturs), but actually I'm enjoying the human contact, so I don't much care.

Er, that's Ruth my oldest daughter, not some random stranger!


  1. This made me laugh (I never knew about the pork pies; walking about with your cheeks "sucked in"; and "crazy person") but also made me feel a little sad too.... you've NEVER been invisible to me lovely lady! love+big hugs x

  2. I love that picture of you and Ruth! What an interesting thing to notice about yourself - is it affected by changing confidence, do you think? Think Ive become more happy to be noticed as I've grown less shy! Xxx

  3. Sad though it is, I wonder if (generally speaking) we women are free-er to 'make eye contact' and smile at strangers as we age, due to a sense of increasing safety - we no longer feel the obvious target of sexual predatory behaviour.(BTW that photo of you in your younger years is gorgeous - but then, so is the current one!) x

  4. hurrah for pork pies & smiling at strangers!
    lots of love to my lovely mummy. x

  5. Cheese and onion pasties. I bought one at the baker at one end of Walthamstow market and a second when I reached the other branch at the other end of the market. I couldn't have gone back to the same shop twice in one day! Yes, I was pregnant at the time. My son says this is why he has a dairy allergy!
    Like you, I feel more approachable with age!

  6. Hello, I just popped over to your blog as you were so kind as to comment on mine ... and what a lovely post to find. And yes, me too. I wouldn't say I thought I was invisible when I was young, but I often wished I was. I was tall and slim with art studenty clothes so I did kinda stand out even though I didn't want to. I compensated by becoming really chatty to hide my shyness but I think I probably sounded a bit manic. These days I'm calmer and I'll chatter happily to anyone which makes for an interesting and laughter filled laugh ... there really is something to the notion that confidence comes with age isn't there!