This baby boomer opposes ever being invisible

Some of the changes as we baby boomers get older are physical — no denying it — but some are in our minds, namely, do we have to live by the calendar? Carole Sullivan, a longtime executive in Washington DC but now retired in Albuquerque, New Mexico, flatly says no. She has written about her feelings for BoomerCafé, giving her story the title, “I have never been invisible and I don’t want to start now!”

I turned 70 this year and I’m trying to assess this situation. So, I frequent some of the “senior” sites that discuss “topics of interest” for my age group.

GAG! The trouble with our demographics today is that there is a desire, nay, an obsession, to pigeonhole everyone. I even ran across a survey trying to find the appropriate word for old people. Do we want to be seniors? Seasoned? Mature?

Carole Sullivan

Carole Sullivan

Trouble is, none works because we are all individuals.

When we say 70 is the new 50, what do we mean? And according to whom? I guess the marketers and advertising executives just have to know how to sell to every age group. And I guess target marketing has some validity. I don’t get a lot of ads for hip hop music, although I would love to get tickets for the hit play Hamilton in NYC (who wouldn’t?). My clothing choices are usually “appropriate,” but I do drop in at Urban Outfitters and Forever 21. It is fun to change it up; it keeps me alive.

I accept that there are some things that are generally applicable to a women in my age group. But what is all this crap about turning 70 and turning invisible — and therefore being able to say and do what you want to. Really? Have ALL female baby boomers been holding back and been “good girls” all their lives?

People who know me will be smiling knowingly right now. I know they won’t believe it when I say that until recently, I didn’t have a view of myself as particularly outspoken. Ok, ok, somewhat.

An old high school friend said, “I remember that you would not take any crap from any boys and told them what you thought.” I guess I did; I guess I do.

Wherever it comes from, I have never been able to hold my tongue. I always have an opinion and I really need to express it. This has gotten me into trouble and prevented me from reaching higher echelons in my work. I had — and still have — a strong sense of myself and I believe that I can and will get things done. Where this comes from, I don’t know.

But I do know that my mother always cautioned me to be nicer — especially to boys— if I wanted to be popular. I’ve always gotten this feedback about pushing too hard and knowing that I was right.

So, to boomer women who now feel empowered to say what they think, I say, WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG?! Indeed, all women need to ask why they defer, why they don’t rock the boat. It is your boat too. It is your life and your body and you need to truly own it.

This is feminism. Accept no substitutes. Be yourself. You will attract others like yourself.

Lately I have been visited by a number of “old” friends, people I went to college with or worked with eons ago. And my partner has commented , ”Your friends talk almost as much as you!” Yes, my friends tend to be mouthy broads and proud of it. Like me.

6 Comments

  1. Right on, Carole. I’m a Baby Boomer Woman who launched a travel website for Baby Boomers, because all they seemed to market to us were cruises and bus tours – talk about pigeonholing! I launched http://www.boomertravelpatrol.com to offer choices and appeal to the “fun side of fifty.” We all need to speak up and speak out. Thanks for being relevant and visible!

  2. I totally agree. In seems that ever since my first year in college (1971), I have been a woman with definite opinions who expresses them. I’ve read that my frankness comes from being a Sagittarius. I think it also came from my very opinionated and vocal father. My quite mother definitely had her own opinions, too as she confided in me. But what she thought was often drowned out by my dad. I have grown increasingly aware of myself over the decades. My Aunt Dora once told me that I was almost like a man because I can easily talk to men and women about anything–even sports. Hooray for never being invisible.

  3. Some things don’t change. Look for the leader who takes charge at any age. I remember the first time I saw Carole…about 4o years ago. She was the one talking and waving her arms while bossing everybody around. We were in the middle of a group of “rug rats” as some called little guys in those days – at a children’s theatre performance in a lobby of the JFK Performing Arts Center. I said to myself, “There is the gal who is in charge. I need to meet her.” And I did. Traversing our professional paths and friendship has been one joyful trip…regardless of the tough times. Invisible? Impossible. Too many challenges out there. I’ve enjoyed being “the other terrible Carol” all these years with a BFF. Well written, my friend. Thank you.

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