Last week for Mutual (if it’s still called that) I was asked to show up at the local mall disguised somehow. The idea was that the kids would go on a scavenger hunt for ward members. I pondered my costume choices and decided to go with “Frumpy and Plain Middle-Aged Woman”. Three towels were wrapped around me and pinned in place to add a nice amount of chubby padding. On top of that off were my least attractive clothes (including sensible shoes!). I scrounged up a short dirty-blonde wig from my daughter’s dress-up box and scrubbed off all my make-up, except for my lips which I covered with concealer to make me look extra drab. I borrowed some reading glasses from my neighbor and set off for the mall.
As instructed I strolled around with a shopping bag, waiting for the teens in our ward to find me (two of whom were my own children). I don’t know about your mall but mine is filled with kiosks selling all sorts of things. Some people sit at their booths idly waiting for customers to show up, but most are handing out info or samples and trying to hustle up business. Frankly I can’t stand that. I just want to say, “If I feel like buying lotion made from Dead Sea salts, I will. Please don’t pester me!” I hate having to run the gauntlet from Gymboree to The Gap having to say “no thanks” a dozen times.
But Frumpy-and-Plain-Middle-Aged Jennie had quite a different experience. Nobody asked me to try their lotion or buy a cell phone cover. Nobody even looked at me. I didn’t get a single glance.
“This is brilliant!” I thought. “I’m going to come to the mall looking like this all the time!” It was exhilarating being invisible; to know that nobody was paying any attention to me. I never realized how often I examine my looks (does my hair look weird? Are these pants too tight? Did I remember to do my makeup?) Not having to worry about those little things was definitely a thrill.
Being invisible became depressing after a while, though. I like that people normally make eye contact and smile (even though it’s their job and they get paid to). I started to wonder about the people who really are invisible. Are there people who are invisible? Is this going to be my lot in life in another fifteen or twenty years? (This might explain why my mother always wears such bright colors. People can’t help but notice her.)
By the end of the mutual activity I was embarking on a full-blown existential crisis about the meaning of being ignored by society. I was thrilled to finally be discovered by the kids from church. Even when my daughter stuck her finger into my chubby belly and informed me that I looked disgusting.
Do you think being invisible is a valid concern for many people? What causes people to be ignored by society? Age? Weight? Attitude? Is it something that most people need to worry about eventually? Have you ever had an experience like this?