A 2008 article on rock music icon Deborah Harry, then aged 62, declared it was “time for her to cover up and tone it down”. Cher, in 2008, also aged 62, was asked if she was too old to sing rock 'n' roll.
Her response? “I think you’d better check with Mick Jagger.”
I am now 52. Allegedly. I’ve seen this claim made on the first page of my passport, but it’s merely a symptom of time.
Recently, I’ve been working on the importance of breast cancer clinical trials and translating some very pointy medical research information into forms that are easy for everyone to understand.
I have a brilliant photographer who I call on to illustrate some of my work, but other times I dive into the online stock photo libraries.
In searching stock image libraries for photographs of women to accompany my breast cancer articles, I was appalled to find that there are simply no photos of women like me and my wonderful friends and peers. If you’re over 25 and under 75, you have no existence in imagery. We are invisible.
This fact has been discussed in Hollywood and commercial television news for generations but frankly affects all of us less stellar vagina-pilots, too. Once you hit that mythical wall of no longer being sexually interesting to men, you become invisible. "Sorry, old girl, what even is the point of you?!"
My frustration begat this tweet:
Photo: Lee Illfield
I threw my fury out into the Twittersphere alongside a recent professionally shot photograph of me in a favourite red dress. I’m usually a jeans and t-shirt woman, but I do wear red lipstick like armour. (My family always know I mean business if I'm wearing the Scarlet Ghost. I digress.)
The response to my tweet was fast and ferocious, including from many high profile women I’ve had the pleasure of working with and still call friends.
These are women who want to be photographed, ranging from women considered "traditionally" beautiful, to (equally beautiful) women of colour or facial diversity.
Roz Vecsey replied to the tweet, “Just remember we don’t all suit sparkly frocks and full slap, I’m 54 and wear bondage pants and Doc Martens. But I’m still invisible...”
As the likes and retweets climbed, a few good blokes offered kind words and encouragement.
But, there's no need for sympathy. Let me tell you a little secret. The invisible women I know are more potent than ever. Why? Because they care less what you think.
They’ve raised their children. They’ve cared for their parents. They’ve worked their guts out for the last 30+ years, and they are over your shit. You choose not to represent them in media and public roles at your economic peril.
The women who contacted me are keen to be photographed. To not be invisible. To share their frustration at the ridiculous and cruel stereotyping of women. That's a little project I'll now work on with a group of equally enraged gorgeous-in-all-their-forms women.
(Oh, and, those women? They're having lots of great sex, too.)