Are Middle-Aged Women Really Invisible?

And what do we mean by visibility anyway?

Jae L
6 min readFeb 18


Photo by Konstantin Mishchenko on Unsplash

Full disclosure. At the age of 51, I’m considered a middle-aged woman. I tend to gravitate to things that air the experiences of this cohort and I’ve got a bit to say about mine. In fact, I’m thinking of funnelling them into a novel.

It’s a good thing that such a discussion is happening, because acknowledging diversity of experiences is always much better than clinging to stereotypes.

While watching your children become independent and your marriage go stale are common signposts of middle-aged womanhood, they’re not everyone’s life. And even if they are, they don’t necessarily define us.

I would never attempt to speak on behalf of middle-aged women everywhere. Perhaps that’s why I flinch when I come across an article that purports to represent the experiences of middle-aged women. There’s nothing wrong with writing about your own experience, but best not assume it’s universal.

So who’s saying middle-aged women are invisible?

Recently I’ve seen a rash of opinion pieces lamenting the invisibility of middle-aged women. They tend to go something like this: 50 something woman is sick of sales assistants passing her over for the attractive younger woman further back in the queue; sick of hoards of young people pushing past her to claim a cafe table that was rightfully hers. And so on.

50-something woman makes the leap that this lapse of attention to customer service amounts to be being overlooked by a society that has thrown her on the scrap heap and she’s aghast. What’s more, she no longer sees herself represented in media and popular culture. She feels pressure to spend money to make herself look younger just to be noticed.

So what’s actually going on here?

Does being overlooked by a bored Gen-Z sales assistant really amount to being treated as a second-class citizen? It seems that it’s not lack of visibility these women are bothered about, but not being able to command attention when they want it.

As some have pointed out in response, if you enjoy respect, influence and perhaps authority in your workplace and social networks, it’s harder to deal with situations…



Jae L

Queer, neurodivergent and in the business of defying expectations. Doing my best to answer the questions I keep asking myself.