Feeling Like an Invisible Person

Got an opinion column from the newspaper in class today. It’s about a woman who is a nurse who talks about how she feels largely “invisible” because of social mores. For example, she talks about how women can’t age and be wanted by society or how nurses are seen as inferior as compared to doctors/anesthesiologists.

Anyone get the same feeling? When? Where?

Does anyone use that “invisibility” to advance?


Is there anyone in this thread? Hello?

Huh. OK …

and Least Original User Name Ever wonders how I got ahead of him on line at the checkout…

Not to depress the thread or anything, but one of the reasons for compulsive overeating is to become unattractive, to ward off perceived sexual attention. I find that being fat and knowing I am not sexually attractive to most men is comforting to me, because I can be myself and not worry about any advances. If it weren’t for some of the open hostility toward fat people, I would think they are relatively “written off” and invisible.

Perverse, but there it is.

Makes sense, but do you view this defense mechanism as a positive or a negative?

If it’s a positive, how can warding off all sexual advances fall under a category of “good”?

If it’s a negative, why can’t something be done about it?

I’m 36 and a size 16. (Oh, I’m a woman).

I’m very tall and used to be slim, with a great ass. I got checked out a lot and got lots of compliments. Even though no-one would say I was ever beautiful, I used to carry myself with a real sexiness and self-awareness that a lot of people found attractive.

Now, being older, and married, with a new baby, although I have more happiness and self-confidence than I have in a LONG time, I feel very invisible - one of the nameless faceless almost-middle-aged overweight moms whose big dream is to get a minivan.

(No offense, I just know that’s how I would appear to the types of guys who USED to check me out).

When I catch a glimpse of myself in a store window, it takes me a minute to realize that woman is ME.

I find it mildly disconcerting, and at low points I get a bit down on myself, but overall, it’s kind of nice to not have to feel obligated to do my hair and makeup and worry overly much about my clothes. I feel a freedom in this invisibility, and at least right now, I’m kind of enjoying it.

Oh sure. I’m a 44-year-old woman. Twenty years ago, if my car broke down on the side of the road there’d be at least one man stopping to offer help within minutes. Not anymore.

If I go into a restaurant alone it can often take me much longer to get served too, unless I am proactive about getting someone’s attention.

I can relate to this. I’m 29, a woman, and I have never considered myself attractive. Working as a Lab Manager, I have seen young college students come and go. I have heard some researchers and graduate students, mainly men, comment on the attractive young students. This is very unprofessional, but part of me wishes that they would find me just as attractive. Typically, I’m just one of the guys.

Sometimes being invisible has its advantages. While I may be in the background of the research, my combination of skills is hard to come by, so I have job security.

Saturday I went to a Korean supermarket in the K-town neighborhood of LA. I am a 6foot caucasian… I was the only one in the store… I felt completely invisible… No one made eye contact and I was routinely cut off and blocked by shopping carts. It was quite liberating.

For those of us who are married or otherwise in a steady relationship and aren’t interested in looking for sex outside the relationship, that can be good.

In my experience, fat or not (and I’ve been both) people are as invisible as they want to be. There are a number of relatively attractive “invisible” men and women out there simply because they choose to maintain a “below the radar” passive personality. If you’re dumpy and passive, and cry that you don’t get social or sexual attention it’s time to catch the clue train.

IMO being “invisible” has less to do with physical attractiveness and more to do with how willing you are to make yourself “noticeable”. Bemoaning that you’re no longer “visible” because you’re not a dolly anymore is kind of pointless and just a bit inter-personally lazy. I’m seen clever, flirty outgoing women of mediocre looks at parties get tons more quality male attention than the passive silent beauties. Unless you’re a scary beast, how invisible you are is less dependent on your looks than your personality.

Attractive or unattractive, “passive” people are relatively invisible, fat or thin active, engaging people are never invisible.

Well, this is true, but I did stipulate “all” sexual advances.

In your opinion, is wanting to draw sexual advances from everyone even when you’re in a relationship greedy or superfluous, or slutty, or something else?

Does that means that invisibility is an internal thing? It’s your internal spirit made visible to everyone else, or is it something different?

What about social roles determining visibility? You can have mothers whose entire identities get changed by the fact of their motherhood, and on the other end of the spectrum, an athlete that has a public image, but when we see a window into the real personality, we’re horrified/perplexed by the changes.

Very seldom do you find someone that can juggle both. It seems like true power, indeed. Any thoughts?

What is it, in your estimation, that deems you as “unattractive”? Is it some physical quality, or lack thereof? Or are you already deemed unattractive by yourself before you even show up?

It’s just not for me. I’m shy, and generally clueless when it comes to flirting. I’m very glad that chapter of my life is over, and I can spend my time on other stuff that I’m actually competent at and enjoy.

If other people who are in relationships want to draw sexual advances from everyone, that’s fine with me. I would think less of them if they cheated on their current partner, but just wanting sexual advances from others but not acting on them isn’t cheating or slutty IMO.

For me, I am celibate and I am uncomfortable with sexual attention. It’s just not part of my life and I don’t want it around.

The negative is that I am unhealthy and uncomfortable being this size, and when I do need to command respect I worry that I won’t get it because of judgments about my weight.

It happens to all of us. I usually go through phases, personally, but then things start picking up and you wonder why you ever thought that in the first place. Of course, that doesn’t stop you from thinking it again in a year or so…

Joshua Kadison wrote a lovely song about it… Lyrics here.

I find it difficult being a new attorney. I’m in a situation where unlike most of my peers I actually get a lot of responsibility and a real workload right out of school (I handle major financial transactions).

Unfortunately, due to my height and age it’s hard to get the outside attorneys who come in to realise that yes, I am the attorney that they’re going to deal with and NO, I am not a paralegal, secretary or college student interning with the office (among the things I’ve been asked). It doesn’t matter what I do, how I dress or anything, the first time an office deals with me, they’ll talk to me about the transaction, then go behind my back and talk to one of the more senior associates (who’ll tell them, yes, it’s her, the quasi-adolescent is in fact the lawyer on this issue so go talk to her about it) about what they want, then disbelievingly bounce back to the Chief Counsel about what they want and finally and be-grudgingly come back to me.

It usually takes a couple of transactions for this process to finally go away. So I suppose I finally become visible but it’s a real pain in the ass. The office now openly introduces me as “this is our new attorney, [my name], our new ATTORNEY” (twice for emphasis) to stave off the inevitably condescending “oh, are you a new secretary??” query.

It can be quite safe to “hide” behind your invisible-ness.

If you get all dolled up and think you are pretty hot-looking, and you get ignored, that can hurt. If you remain frumpy, and get ignored, it’s not such a big deal - “It’s not that I’m ugly, it’s my ugly clothes and unkempt hair and cynical attitude that makes people not want to approach me.”

It’s also a way to ensure serious inquiries only, if you know what I mean. I personally prefer to remain a bit frumpy. If I get all dolled up, I don’t like the attention I get - it feels kind of insincere. Does this guy like me, or does he like my tits/legs/hair? If I’m just me, dressed and acting inconspicuously, and someone notices me, then they are probably noticing something much more important to me than my peripherals.

I also love the days when they were training me on the transactions/work I do and I would be “in charge” come in, and sit down at the head of the table for the final deal and the other attorneys would crane their heads and try to talk to the senior associate sitting in a corner where he was supposed to be merely observing me. They wouldn’t even say hello, just try to crane their necks around me disbelievingly as though I’d stumbled into the wrong room.

The only thing nice about the whole ordeal is the smackdown my co-workers put on all of them for treating me that way.