Columnist Valerie Schultz

As a woman over 50 (ahem!), I have some thoughts to share with Yann Moix. Who, one might ask, is Yann Moix? I confess I’d never heard of him either before I came across his provocative assertion that women over 50 are “invisible” to him. I have since learned that he is a 50-year-old French novelist and TV host who admittedly prefers his women to be forever 25. May I say, Monsieur Moix, that while it has not been a pleasure to make your virtual acquaintance, I am pleased to report that your words have brought us older women out into the light and made us visible.

Because I am neither the first nor the last woman to respond to this man’s poor eyesight. Women around the world who are 50 and over are reacting to his revealing interview with the French edition of the magazine Marie Claire. Said Monsieur Moix, after the aforementioned "invisible" part: “I prefer younger women’s bodies, that’s all … the body of a 25-year-old woman is extraordinary. The body of a woman of 50 is not extraordinary at all.” He further stipulated that he only dates 25-year-old women who are Asian.

Well. Perhaps there is little point in questioning the sexual preferences of a middle-aged man who demonstrates no interest in age-appropriate relationships. But I am still coming off the high of my third annual Women’s March. After rallying in the streets with women of many a different shape and size and color and race and age and cause and sexual orientation, I am feeling that all of us women are quite extraordinary, as well as pretty dang visible.

Although not to Monsieur Moix, of course. At my advanced age, I am well acquainted with his take on female invisibility. I know exactly how it feels to go off random men’s radar, to realize that no one has catcalled or propositioned me in years, to understand that I am so thoroughly unnoticed at times that I could successfully get away with a life of crime. I am in the group of grandmas for whom there are few roles in Hollywood and no chance of the romantic “I saw her across the room” encounter. When a man like Moix calls me invisible, I have to admit that, in the eyes of the Moixes of the world, I have worn that cloak.

But I am stepping up now to reclaim my visibility. I am honored to speak for all of us whose feminine parts have lowered like flags at half-staff, whose flesh has softened like butter left out for baking, whose wrinkles and veins are like road maps to our history as I say: I am here. I am vibrant. I am palpable. I am audible. I am visible. I am matter and energy and spirit. And I don’t choose to be ignored.

It is perhaps men like Monsieur Moix who make us older women believe that if only we color our hair and show some cleavage and tuck our tummies and stretch our faces and inject our lips, we can reclaim our youthful veneer and again be visible to the world. For most of us, it is a struggle without victory. So it falls to us women of 50 and more to accept that we have grown past that kind of superficial visibility. We are old enough to know better. We have earned these precious seasoned bodies, through love and work, through childbirth and breastfeeding, through menses and menopause, through trial and error, through worry and wisdom. Rather than strutting our bodies for others, we inhabit them for ourselves. We thank God for them. At long last, we can find that elusive comfort in our own skin. If we are lucky, we have an intimate partner who sees our glorious beauty, who adores us and revels in us, body and soul, and to whom we will never be invisible.

In this dawning age of diversity and acceptance, may we bravely push back against lingering neanderthal attitudes. (Merci beaucoup, Monsieur Moix.) May all women be respected for the gifts we bring to our world. May we continue to march and advocate for true human equality for ourselves and our sisters. And may we know that we are only as invisible as we allow ourselves to be.

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