Living life as loudly as possible
Kay Scorah knows her mind. Boy was she raised to.
Growing up striding alongside two fiercely bold grandmothers, the idea that a woman, especially an older woman, could become invisible was inconceivable.
These were women taking people of colour on the bus by the arm and sitting them beside them at a time they weren’t even allowed on the same deck. Women standing up against injustice wherever they saw it. Unafraid to take action and unafraid of the consequences. These women weren’t scared of being heard. They certainly weren’t afraid of being seen. And they were both.
So having left biochemistry to work in advertising, twenty-something Kay’s realisation that they were expected to disappear came as a terrible shock.
Why did her client’s briefs cut the female target audience at 55, 50, sometimes younger? According to them these women didn’t matter.
Except they did. Kay knew these women had money. They were the ones actually buying their products. She wanted to know what was going on. She wanted to see it for herself.
So she set up an experiment. Drawing lines on your face, dressing in borrowed clothes and taking to the streets made up like a woman twice your age all in aid of scrutinising the brief would be unlikely now. Back then, it was unheard of. But Kay Scorah wasn’t raised to play by the rules.
And she was about to see why. Now in the guise of midlife women, she and a colleague were not just unrecognisable, they were utterly ignored.
When that colleague’s father passed them without even a second glance, Kay knew what was to come. And she wasn’t going to be part of it for a second longer than she had to be. A born socialist, she wasn’t prepared to perpetuate the narrative. It wasn’t just the voices of her grandmothers telling her that she wasn’t put on the earth to try to convince people one detergent might be 0.001% more effective than another.
These women had raised her to listen. To challenge the brief, the rationale, the authority. She wasn’t afraid to speak out. Even if she was bloody good at it, it wasn’t going to make her happy. And it sure as heck wasn’t going to make a difference to society. She’d just have to do the time.
Brand consultancy. Internal communications: working across cultures, hearing people’s stories. Listening: learning how these same injustices impacted those in different worlds and what needed to be done. Who needed to be seen.
Working in LA, Kay became the oldest “funny looking European” at a fundamentally appearance-driven acting school for a reason very different from those of her fellow students. To learn to listen better and speak to the people she was hearing in a way that might actually be able to help.
And help she did. This diversity activist on a mission to include people in systems that think differently made her mark. Consulting for brands really wanting to listen. Wanting to act. Facilitating workshops as part of The Modern Elder Academy’s midlife wisdom school to leave its attendees feeling more relevant, resilient, adaptable and empowered to create what’s next. Uniting fellow geeks in their passion for learning and all things through NerdNites. Providing marginalised young people a platform through which to share the wisdom their difficult lives have taught them with organisations and business leaders by establishing a Turning The Tables conference. Embarking on a stand-up career that sees her don a dildo-adorned bowler hat and cracking out mic-drop lines that would make her grandmothers proud. Women who didn’t give a damn what anyone thought. Who sure as hell didn’t feel invisible.
“All of the things that make me valuable: my experience, my perspective, are written on my face. And yet the establishment seems to want me to erase that.”
65 is no age to disappear. Not when you’ve got 25 odd years left. And invisibility means you can “sneak up on the bastards when they least expect it.”
The system might be broken, but there’s still time to remake it. There’s still time to start another movement.
“I can’t be quiet for 25 years”. If invisible, I’m certainly not inaudible”
And that’s the thing. People want her voice. They need it. People want to work with Kay because she’s one of the few people actually listening and doing something about what she hears as loudly as she damn well can.
Surrounded by a fierce 90 year old mother, hoards of midlife powerhouses and brave, disenfranchised youth all determined to change the status quo. Women who want to revolutionise medical care. Teenagers who want to reset the legal system from the female perspective. The mentor has become the mentee.
They inspire her and she inspires them. Now when they tell her so, she not only listens, she hears it.
Kay Scorah’s thrust in life has always been to change the world, not for it to change her. She’s not prepared to change for anyone. She never has been.
“I’m going to be what I want to be. We need more outsiders and weirdos to fix the system.”
Kay Scorah is not going anywhere soon. And she sure as hell ain’t going quietly.