Have you ever heard of the “invisible woman syndrome” (IWS)? Helen Walmsley-Johnson first coined this term in her book “The Invisible Woman: Taking on the Vintage Years” in 2015, and it is also available on Audible for free with a subscription; so what exactly is IWS?

Invisible Woman Syndrome, in sum, refers to the feeling of being increasingly overlooked and undervalued as women age.  Women who experience this phenomenon may feel like they are being treated as if they are not seen or heard. Or have become irrelevant. The symptoms have been prevalent in women who think their contributions to society have been dismissed or ignored.

One great example of IWS was depicted in one of the Netflix episodes, “Grace and Frankie,” during its first season.

The series portrays the lives of two women in their 70s who are navigating the challenges of aging, friendships, and family. The show has been praised for portraying women living out loud and breaking stereotypes around aging.

You can check out the example of Invisible Woman Syndrome in this clip of Grace and Frankie.

Together, “Grace and Frankie” offers a refreshing perspective that life doesn’t have to slow down just because you’re getting older. The series celebrates the resilience and strength of women and encourages viewers to live on their terms, regardless of age or gender.

Now let’s look at the recent gaff by Don Lemon, who is also over 50 years old and put his entire foot in his mouth on #CNN when speaking on women’s issues.  Although this is not new thinking here, being on an international platform increases the stereotype of uninformed people.

Defying the Stereotype:

Over the past several years, many women over 50 have been ridding themselves of Invisible Woman Syndrome by rejecting the idea that they must conform to societal expectations.  As a result, this shift can be attributed to many factors, including the growing movement towards body positivity, self-love, and a greater acceptance of diversity and individuality in fashion and beauty.

For example:

Oprah Winfrey: Media mogul and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey is known for her signature, colorful, and elegant style. She is frequently on television and social media in soft and militant statement-making outfits that reflect her personality and values.

(Photo: AARP)

Michelle Obama: She has become known for her classic, sophisticated, and, most recently, edgy style. She often wears bright colors and is known for supporting and promoting young designers.  Mrs. Obama broke the internet with her thigh-high, sparkly boots not long ago with Sarah Jessica Parker.  Our forever first lady is embracing her range in style, and we love her for this.

(Photo: Marie-Claire)

Jane Fonda: She is a legendary actress and activist. She has been a fashion icon for decades and has no intention of stopping soon. Jane is known for her daring and edgy style and beautiful silver fox hair, which is fabulous all day.

(Photo: Glamour Magazine)

Diane Keaton: Also an actress. Who has turned producer and is known for her signature menswear-inspired style. With her signature style, which is made up of suits, ties, and hats, she has become an icon for women who want to dress in a classic, effortless, yet individualistic way.

(Photo: Wall Street Journal)

And, finally, we have;

Iris Apfel: Who is one of the greatest style icons from current times. She is appreciated for her interior design, even at 100+ years of age. Mrs. Apfel has a unique, eccentric sense of style and is known for her love of prints, chunky jewelry, and color. Iris has inspired women of all ages who want to embrace their individuality and creativity.  No matter the trend, Iris has the confidence to wear what she wants, when she wants, and it all comes together lovely.

(Photo: InStyle Magazine)

In the final analysis, the challenge here is for all women, regardless of age, to find their essence and dance to the beat of their drum. We, too, can do this by showing up like Frankie and Grace, the women listed above, or our favorite aunties who serve as agents of change to us all.

I accept.