The Invisible Woman
edited: Sunday, March 19, 2006
By Vic Trakerr
Rated "G" by the Author.
Posted: Tuesday, January 10, 2006
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These are the Mask's I've worn.
The world sees only what it wishes to see. Whether it is the color of the skin, the height of their body, or the perfection of their speech, people are often categorized by their personal attribute. However, there are people who exist in this world that are not seen. They are classified as the invisible women.
These women have many distinctions, all of which are indiscernible to the untrained eyes, eyes that see only what they are programmed to see. These women have been neglected and overlooked for centuries because they do not have the favorable attribute that are held in such high regard by society as a whole. These invisible women are separated into four basic groups: the man in the mask, the woman who is uncomfortable in her own skin, the woman behind the man, and finally the woman of anonymity.
These women all have one common bond and that is the fear that if they are ever seen, will the world accept them as they are or will it choose to ignore the significance of their being?
Having an understanding that these four groups of women exist can help people to recognize them, enabling them to see more clearly if they choose. The revelation that the invisible woman exists could make positive changes in our society, and all it would take is a shift in the visual societal paradigm, a fluttering of eyelashes which causes the eyes to close and reopen with a different point of view, resulting in a mental metamorphosis that could impact an entire future generation of humans. This shift in thought forces people to look beyond mere physical attributes, causing them to take a second look, a deeper look, one that sees the soul and all the good things that is has to offer.
The first category of the invisible woman is the woman who cannot be seen as she truly is because she wears a mask. The mask can come in many different forms, such as the mother mask, the wife mask, the “I do everything perfect” mask, or the ever popular “I must be pretty at all times” mask. These masks make I difficult if not impossible to see the true woman behind them. She wears them out of necessity. She wears them to gain the acceptance she so desperately desires. For example, there is the young woman who would do anything to be accepted in a certain social circle, such as the executive hierarchy traditionally held by men. She pretends to be tough and worldly, laughing at their crude jokes and lame witticisms. All the while inside, she knows that she is competent and organized and that she can do the job as well as any man. She truly hates having to pretend to be someone she is not, yet she feels the nee to wear her mask of false masculinity, fearing that if the world were to see her feminine side, it would deem her weak and unworthy.
Would it be such a terrible thing if she were to be herself for just one day? Would everything in her world unravel if the outside world saw her face naked and pure as the day she was born? Why are women so afraid of who they are? Is her fear real or contrived by years of insecurity heaped upon her by the unreal expectations of the outside world? This expectation is portrayed perfectly by a perfume commercial that came out in the mid 80’s. A woman carrying a frying pan and waving money in the air, then miraculously changed into a slinky black dress with a quick flash of smoke, claiming, “I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never, never let you forget you’re a man, because I’m a woman.” This commercial gave the impression that women could have it all, but many great women have made the statement that “it is impossible to do it all – something somewhere will suffer.” It is not the daily tasks that these women perform that are at a loss; unfortunately it is the women themselves who are suffering as they strive desperately to achieve these unattainable perfections.
The woman in the mask believes these media lies and as a result, has become a practiced actor and her stage is life. She plays her part with skillful precision. How sad is it that she can never let her guard down. The extreme pressure to perform is continually upon her. She has a belief that the removal of her mask would reveal her true self to the world and that exposure in her mind would be unbearable.
The next category is that of the woman who is uncomfortable in her own skin. She constantly peruses the fashion magazines. Faithfully, she follows the careers of her favorite models and actresses. She refuses to believe that the models’ perfect bodies are just airbrushed lies that gloss the cover of Glamour, Vogue, and Cosmopolitan. She has an irrational belief that these elite women never get stretch marks, blemishes or cellulite. She is so intolerant of her own body that she no longer knows who she is. This woman lives vicariously through the models of perfection that she so greatly admires.
She has come to define herself by what other people think of her. She is tossed about on a social wave of confusion and self-doubt leaving no room in her world for the mere luxury of simply being human. The world for her has become a clouded mirror of self-doubt and self-denial. She feels that she must conform to the media standard of airbrushed flawlessness. She is willingly carried to the extremes of defaming and mutilating her body with excessive dieting and exercise. There is no limit to the means that she would go to in order to achieve the perfect body. She is a woman so unhappy with her won flesh that she would allow a stranger to take a laser-sharpened scalpel and slice into her tender flesh, removing parts of her being that the creator bestowed upon her with immense love.
Another example of the invisible woman uncomfortable in her own skin is the forty-year-old woman in our society. She has crystals of salt blasted against her skin to remove the lines of laugher and wisdom attained by living a full life. Why is there a need to erase the meaningful years of life? Why are women not allowed by the media to grow old with dignity and grace?
There are a few women who have flouted the ever growing disease of perfection, such as Lauren BaCall, Sophia Loren, and Lauren Hutton. These magnificent women should be applauded for their blatant rejection of convention.
They stand in stark contrast to the unfortunate woman nicknamed “Barbie” who has spent over a $100,000 and survived an astronomical forty-seven plastic surgery procedures to achieve the Barbie-like perfection that she perceives as desirable. Yes, she is extremely beautiful that cannot be denied, but just as the word insinuates her image seems plastic.
There are many women such as she who feels deep within her soul that if the world ever saw her and all of her imperfections, it would laugh. So they remain unseen by the ever critical eye of society by letting their true selves be covered in plastic and makeup. These women, so uncomfortable in their own skin, wrap themselves up in a pretty red bow of perfection and present themselves to the world, hoping that finally they will be good enough.
For many years women have been forced to hide in the shadows. The sun has only come to shine on them in recent years because of new laws that have created a more equal playing field for women. However, there are still many women who have yet to feel the sunlight upon their faces. This woman constitutes the third category of invisible women.
She is the woman behind the man. This unseen woman stands in the shadows of her mate. She finds herself defined only by the accomplishments achieved by her significant other. Striving to make her mate as successful as possible, she becomes invisible willingly. She buries her own needs and wants, sacrificing herself for the “greater good.” Only then can she feel a true sense of accomplishment.
Her mate never leaves the house in un-ironed clothes. She spends endless hours fussing over his appearance, making sure that his is always ready for that important meeting. She sees his possible failure as her own; therefore, she will go to any length to make him successful.
She glides gracefully into the room filled with the upper echelon of her husband’s co-workers. Her hair is formed into the perfect French twist, and her silk black dress is ever so Audrey Hepburn. She spends the evening networking, regaling all of her husband’s accomplishments and how he would be perfect for this project or that project. She is more his agent than his wife, as she portrays the ever perfect hostess to all his parties.
Sometimes, she is not the only one who suffers under her self-inflicted hand of perfection. She forces her children to become over achievers academically as well as socially. The pressure she places upon herself and her children to paint this perfect picture is eventually going to tear just like the canvas of a painting when it is stretched too far.
The world does not see her it sees her family and their accomplishments. It sees her son as the national honor society member, the president of the French honor society, and the winner of a full-ride academic scholarship to college. Her daughter is a cheerleader, class president, and the most popular girl in her school. Her husband is the
chemist who started out making $25,000 a year. She helped him go from a chemist to an executive n less than two years and now twelve years later, he is making a salary of $130,000 annually. They seem to have it all; there is the perfect husband, the perfect wife and the perfect children. Most people would look at this family as a great success story, but behind the scenes there is an invisible woman waiting who feels empty. She hides behind her mate because she feels unworthy of being seen by the world.
Finally, there is the woman of anonymity. She chooses to remain unseen. Her invisibility allows her to move freely in society. She does not seek public recognition because it would endanger her mission. Her mission is the betterment of society. For example, Mother Theresa, because of her vows to the church, is unencumbered by the trappings of physical beauty. She understood that the body was more than make-up and the perfect haircut. She was confident in who she was and accepted herself unconditionally. She had weighed the thoughts and ideals of man’s interpretation of beauty and had come to the conclusion that man was blind to true beauty. Then, she went about the business of showing him what true beauty was a business that would last her entire lifetime. Hers was a life of self-sacrifice and duty to mankind.
She did not see her duty as a burden but a gift. There are many women like her. Most would not catch the quiet glimpse of love so freely given to the world by these special women. These women are a strong and powerful force of nature. They are unstoppable in their mission. There is the quiet volunteer at the Veteran’s Hospital, or the woman who brings food to the confined elderly, or the woman who brings companionship to the physically challenged. These incredible women give all of themselves to the lost and needy of the world.
Unlike Mother Theresa, this invisible woman guards her anonymity as if it were the most precious possession she owned. She feels that if her cloak of invisibility were to slip and the world could actually see her, it would compromise her altruistic mission of love.
Unfortunately, she does not realize that society needs to see her. People need role models. They need to see someone willing to share and give of herself unconditionally. Society is hungry for the picture of integrity and kindness that she portrays. If only she could see the need, she would remove her cloak of invisibility and share her good deeds with the world.
All four of these groups of invisible women bear a secret burden. The burden they carry is not a physical burden that can be seen by the naked eye. This burden is hidden deep within their souls and it is not easily lifted. For some this invisibility is chosen, but for others the weight that society has placed upon them is tremendous. The flawless picture that is seen in the magazines and portrayed by movie stars and public figures has shackled their souls. They are prisoners of perfection and self-sacrifice. They may not wear the black and white stripes of an inmate, but their uniform is just as daunting.
The time has come to set these women free. Society has the need to grant them clemency, not only for the sake of the women, but also for the world. These invisible women are crying to be heard, to be seen, to finally be recognized as what they really are. Society must look behind their masks. The eyes of the world need to be opened. They can no longer remain invisible. The price of that invisibility is too high. Depression and eating disorders among young women are growing at an alarming rate. Plastic surgery is being performed on women as early as the age of seventeen.
The media tells women that they can have it all. They can be the perfect mother, the perfect wife, and the perfect executive. They even have books telling women how to manage their time, their sex lives, and their children. Life for them has become a juggling act, and sooner or later a ball is going to fall.
The message of perfection that society is sending women of all ages is becoming increasingly detrimental to their health and mental well being. What is it going to take to wake society to the damage it is wreaking on these women? How can they ever free themselves of this prison of perfection?
Freedom for these invisible women begins by removing the mask and finding the value within themselves. It starts by seeing themselves as individuals and not a mere shadow of another person. Also by accepting them as they are and not forcing them to conform to society’s perfect ideal of what a woman should look like is another step towards freedom. The removal of this unnecessary mask causes them to finally realize that if they are seen it does not mean the end of their world. It means the beginning a new one; imagine a world where women are seen as more than just their physical attributes. It is a place where women are seen as human beings with value. The need for make-up and plastic surgery are of no consequence in this bright new world because it is the inside of the person that is seen. The souls of these women are revealed, and no one laughs, and the world will become a better place for it. Finally, these indivisible women can be seen for their true beauty, and that beauty is the wisdom that they can impart to the world.