One morning in 2015, as 59-year-old Sally Misha Hamana waited for a department store clerk to serve her, a man — “a gentleman,” she says — lined up next to her. “I like your hair,” he told her. His throwaway comment left her speechless. She’d stopped coloring her grays a few months back, and her cropped pixie cut was 100% silver. “What does it matter what I look like?” she’d thought. “Nobody sees me anyways.”
The struggle began in her forties, when she was marketing a Texas rodeo. People began talking over her. Dismissing her ideas. Long-term colleagues sidelined her. It took forever to get served by store clerks. “People looked past me, through me. I was really struggling,” she says. It got harder each year. “Suddenly you’re just this middle-aged woman and you’re not standing out. I didn’t feel relevant.”
The offhand compliment flipped a switch inside her. She’d been seen. “It was a small thing, but it helped me see myself again,” she says. “Yes, I’m older, I have gray hair, but I have a lot of life ahead of me. I needed to get back to a life and personality that was more me.”
On February 8, Hamana, now 65, joined TikTok (username SallyMisha). She doesn’t speak till her fourth video, when she announces Louisiana is “colder than a whale digger’s ass.” The next couple of videos follow the same vein, with an ode to Henry Cavill and the TV show Bridgerton. But things ratchet up in her 14th video, “Invisible,” posted March 2. She appears in a pale gray tee, grayish mauve spectacles, with her silver hair loose around her face. “When I turned 50, I became invisible,” she announced. “I faded from view… I became a middle aged woman of no distinction. I felt like a ghost.” She eyeballs the camera. “To my friends in midlife, I see you.”
The video struck a chord, amassing well over 20,000 likes, 4,000 comments, and hundreds of shares, rocketing her followers from the low single digits to the mid-thousands.
There’s a reason her words resonated. Western society has never been kind to the aged, prizing youth and vitality above all, exemplified in cult hits like Logan’s Run and Death Becomes Her. That helps explain why Americans spent $16.7 billion on cosmetic surgery in 2019, with the bulk of procedures in the…