The Superpower I Didn’t Want

Invisibility is supposed to be a superpower – just ask The Invisible Man – and anyone would think that developing a superpower would be a Good Thing. Some superheroes take a while to come around to the idea, but they tend to like their powers in the end – maybe because that’s what they are – “powers”, strengths, tools that can be used for good.
My superpower is anything but that though – it’s a negative, a fading out, a nothingness.
I first realised I had become invisible around the time I turned 40. It had been gradually wearing on for some time and, like any self-respecting fledgling superhero, I didn’t realise its strength or how far-reaching it could be. Around that landmark birthday it hit me with full force, like it or not, in one of those everyday transactions in life that turn out to be pivotal moments. Mine was in a shop, and the assistant serving me wasn’t interested – not because they seemed bored, or busy, or stressed by something else, but just because it was like I wasn’t there.
Now without getting actuarial on you, there’s a reasonable statistical chance that I’m only about half way through my life, and I’m not prepared to slip past everyone’s notice for the rest of it! I began thinking about the times when women, in particular, tend to become invisible. It turns out it’s not a new phenomenon.
In the classic novel “Gone with the Wind”, feisty & colourful Scarlett O’Hara bemoans the lack of opportunities to socialise and to dance on becoming first a wife, and then a widow – dressing in black and not being the centre of attention don’t suit her.
My own grandmother trained long and hard to become a teacher in the 1920’s, and disappeared from the classroom as she gave it all up without a qualm to become a wife.
And much more recently, the end of Selina Scott’s news-reading role literally reduced her visibility to the nation as she disappeared from TV screens, reflecting the modern trend for women of a certain age to fade into the background.
All very different factual and fictional examples of how a change in a woman’s life also changes the way people see her…. or don’t see her at all.
Now some people will be happy with the situation, and that’s fine. But what if they aren’t? I got to wondering about the various strategies women use to get themselves noticed, in good ways and bad, in the modern world. Which led me on to wondering what choices, say, a Victorian or Edwardian woman would have had if they wanted to rebel against invisibility.
And that’s one of the themes I’m exploring as I write my book.
More soon.

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