Monday, August 1, 2011

Invisible Women

An interesting link popped up in this morning's Morning Cup O' Links over at Mental_Floss: Harassment and Visible Womanhood

The idea is that there are "visible" women and "invisible" women, and that the "visible" women are subject to sexual harassment from men because they're attractive, and "invisible" women are ignored because they're not. So then, the "invisible" women want to be harassed, or are jealous of the attention the visible women get. 

I don't like the use of "harassment" here, because it's not always harassment that happens, but there is a certain amount more attention paid to the visible. 

I used to be visible. Yes, there was a time I was visible. The most annoying thing was the car horns, because I don't drive so I'd end up walking a lot. I walked to the local bagel place once and got 12 beeps, 7 on the way there, 5 on the way back. I only ever got one comment, a creepy old guy in Wawa said I had nice legs (so he may have been blind), but other than that it was just looks. Men used to look at me. Older, younger, didn't matter, if I walked by them they looked at me. It was fun-- a little eye batting, maybe a nod, smirk, or sly smile. Once when I was studying abroad in London a friend of mine and I were at one of the festivals along the Thames (there's a freaking lot of them), though this one was at night for some reason. Anyway, as we walked down the river two cops came up in the opposite direction. One of them and I made eye contact and gave each other little smiles, then after we passed by each other I turned back to get one last look as he was tragically cute-- and he had turned back around, too! We locked eyes again and laughed to each other before turning back around. 

Those little moments don't happen anymore. I miss that connection, that instant where two strangers acknowledge each other. I didn't know how tied in that was to my weight until I gained a bunch. Now I realize it happened because I was at one time cute and not because it was something sweet or polite to do, like I thought. It never occurred to me that it was because these guys found me attractive, I mean, I'm a modest dresser-- not Duggar modest but I don't wear terribly low-cut shirts because I don't like breathing on myself (no, really, I can feel the air coming out of my nose brushing my skin if my top's cut too low and I hate it) and I can't wear shorts or short skirts because of the scars on my thighs from cutting so it's not like I was ever all slutted-out. And makeup looks really horrendous on me. I mean, I can wear mascara, and I only have one shade of lipstick that I can wear and I only do that when I'm going out for the night and not going to be eating, drinking, or kissing anything so...8 times out of 10, when I leave the house, I'm not wearing any makeup at all. And I hate my hair. And my skin kind of sucks. So why would I ever think those moments were tied up in my attractiveness? 

I still try for it, though. I pass a man I look up at him through my lashes, or twitch back a corner of my mouth in a little smile, but now there's no reaction. It's like I'm not there. Like I'm invisible. Even with the less attractive guys-- I did it with any guy around my age or older because I thought it was polite and it was just an extra bonus if they were cute.

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad nobody honks anymore; I'm kind of high strung so I used to jump every time a horn blared because I wasn't expecting it and it startled me. I don't miss the honking. 

But I do miss the acknowledgement. I do miss that second of sharing a friendly moment with a stranger. The memories are a little sullied now, knowing there was some naughtiness around it but it was still sweet. It's lonely now, walking down a street when nobody sees you. 

For what it's worth, kids, I see everybody. 

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