As a demographic, we are sounding the battle cry to be seen and heard; to be taken seriously, respected. To be visible, not invisible. We are 50, or 60, or 70, and glad of it, goddamit! Ageism must be quashed! We are loud and proud!
And yet, Phoebe, my assistant who works side by side with me all year long in preparation for our Women At Woodstock gathering in October, has reported a curious finding to me.
We are hiding.
What she’s found, and I’ve also seen numerous times, is that many of us strong and proud women over 50 fail to post photos of ourselves – on our social media profiles and especially on our websites.
We talk tough, don’t we, but actions speak louder than words, right?
In my opinion, anyone who visits your website should be able to click “About” and see who you are, and who you are should include your face.
I know, I know, it’s not so easy. I struggle with finding a “good” photo that I can post online and feel OK about. I look at myself with a very murky mix of conflicting emotions about my appearance. It’s taken me years at a time as I pass age 55, 60, 62 to accept that I’m older and older looking. I still have not achieved any kind of easy acceptance of the fact that I’m not in the shape I was in when I was 27 and dancing at the Joffrey. (Lest I be accused of making too much of myself, let me say here that I was dancing in the adult classes – you know, “street people” – not the actual professional company.)
But I go ahead and I post photos, here and there, anyway. If you Google me you can see me. Just that fact – my unapologetic presence – makes me appear younger than my invisibility would, in my opinion. When I Google someone with an online presence and I cannot find a photo, to be honest I kind of think “old.” Like, either this person hasn’t really kept up with the times, or she’s old and not feeling good about herself.
If we’re going to advocate for the right to be seen, heard, and valued, we need to walk the talk; to step up and do exactly what we’re advocating. For ourselves. We need to be seen, and unashamedly.
So this weekend, when you’re bound to be in a family or social gathering, prepare to be seen. Wear an outfit that makes you feel good about yourself, put on makeup if that’s your thing, and then hand over your smartphone to someone you trust and ask him or her to take a few shots of you. Several, in fact, so that you can look through the images and pick one that you like (or, let’s be honest, hate least). Then post that photo to your website, your Facebook profile, wherever.