Do Women Really Become Invisible After Turning 40?

I remember being in high school and sitting with my friends and listening to a song called Forever Young by Alphaville. I remember talking with them about how awful it would be to get old. I’m pretty sure at the time I defined old as somewhere around age thirty. I mean really – those thirty year olds were SO LAME! Anyway, the song was one of those songs. It was the kind of song that makes you feel like you can do anything – that makes you feel like you can change the world and like life is full of infinite possibility.

Flash forward to modern day Shannon. About six months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting a very accomplished woman who was in her early forties. She made a comment about how if you are a woman people stop noticing you after you turn forty – you become, in her words, “invisible.” Wow, that stopped me in my tracks, and it has stuck with me ever since – likely since I am approaching the big 4-0 myself.

Fast forward again to about a week ago. There I was, sitting in my sea-green minivan (awesome, right?) in the carpool line at my daughter’s school. My neighbor was watching the twins, so it was just me and the three empty car seats in the back rockin’ out to the radio, which was admittedly turned up a little too loud (my high school self would no doubt have been horrified at this entire vision). And then I heard it – a song called We Are Young by a band called Fun. My sixteen-year-old self perked up. What WAS this song? For the record, I have no idea what this song is even about (likely something that would horrify the parent in me – the video is surely something I would shield my daughter from), but the lyrics spoke to me (or is that sang to me).Here is what I heard (get ready to hold your lighters aloft old-schoolers and sing along).


We are young.

So let’s set the world on fire.

We can burn brighter than the sun.

The thing about hearing this song was that it reminded me of that “Anything is Possible” feeling that we adults so often seem to lose. Why is it that just because we get jobs and have kids and get wrinkles and buy a home that the possible seems so much more limited? Maybe (and just maybe, mind you) my sixteen-year-old self really was on to something.

We here at Mamas Against Drama often talk about what we would say to our younger selves if we could. We even did an article about advice to teenage girls. But we haven’t done something on what we could learn from our sixteen-year-old selves. So here goes…

Things my sixteen-year-old self got right:

  1. 1. Be fearless.
  2. 2. Anything is possible.
  3. 3. You can change the world.

Yeah, that’s about all my sixteen-year-old self got right. My list for what I got wrong would likely span a few blogs. But the lessons are still there. We moms may not be our sprightly young selves, but that doesn’t mean we have to be invisible. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t embrace the possibilities of life with as much fearlessness and passion as we can muster. It doesn’t mean that we can’t still make the rest of the world stand up and take notice.

So I raise my glass to my sixteen-year-old self. She may have stumbled along in a totally messed up fashion, but at least she had a few things right.

And to my fellow moms, I say be fearless, because anything is still possible and you can still change the world. And if you need to remind yourself of that fact, simply hop in your very adult-like car, turn up the radio to an inappropriate volume, and sing along. For better or worse, I guarantee that someone will take notice.

What about you – do you have any post-40 inspiring moments you want to share? Do you have any post-kid tricks for feeling young? Or better yet, what advice would your sixteen-year-old self give to you?

Shannon Hembree is a SAHM for a kindergartner and twin toddlers. She likes to think that she will be forever young, but her body continues to tell her otherwise. Shannon is also the co-founder of You can follow her on Twitter @ shannon1hembree and Mamas Against Drama @mamasagnstdrama.


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