Sunday, May 30, 2010

If the hat fits!

Anybody who has ever railed against the invisibility of middle-aged women (i.e. me) should have a look at the Red Hat Society, where they have taken invisibility and painted it all shades of purple. It's like dress-ups for adults - as long as the hat is red, the clothes are purple and the bling is way over the top. Absolutely glorious!
I met eight of these ladies last weekend at a discussion group about middle-age, which they managed to turn into bucketloads of fun. In fact I get the feeling that there's not much they wouldn't turn into bucketloads of fun! This is a society without committees, or positions, or rules and regulations. It started some years ago when an American woman gave a friend a red fedora, along with a poem about growing old disgracefully (see below), for her fiftieth birthday. The gift was a big success, with other friends requesting the same, and about a year later they all went out for lunch wearing their red hats - and the society was born. Nowadays there are chapters (groups) all over the world, each with their very own Queen (the woman who starts the chapter).

And I think there's some lessons here for all of us. Not only that being pro-active brings its own rewards, but that it's okay to just have fun. Feed that inner child. Kerry (aka Queen Bubbles 'n Baubles) tells of meeting people, particularly women, who simply cannot get their heads around the fact the society does nothing concrete - no sport, or arts, or crafts, or baking, or volunteering, or raising money for charity. Is it really so hard to imagine doing something purely for yourself, even if it sounds silly or eccentric or self-indulgent? And maybe those who find the concept the most challenging are the ones who really need it the most!

Warning: When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple
(by Jenny Joseph)
When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple
with a red hat that doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
and satin candles, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired
and gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
and run my stick along the public railings
and make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
and pick the flowers in other people's gardens
and learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
and eat three pounds of sausages at a go
or only bread and pickles for a week
and hoard pens and pencils and beer nuts and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
and pay our rent and not swear in the street
and set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

1 comment:

  1. Reading about the Red Hat Society I have to admit I was very intriguied and a little shocked! A group dedicated to just having fun! Where do I sign.....
    I had a good look at their website and have to confess to a certain feeling of envy that I am not quite old enough to join (on the wrong side of 50 it seems).
    BUT...there is hope it seems. The society includes women under the age of 50, although they are encouraged not to wear the colours of members aged 50 and over - which includes purple clothes and red hats. Those on the other side of 50 are encouraged to wear lavender clothes and pink hats. So it seems I can sign up....
    I really liked the fact that these girls are up for anything it seems - from tea parties and teddy bear picnics to NASCAR meets and grape stomping. Us 40-somethings can learn a lot from them. And they are a growing force - some 30,000 chapters throughout the US and in 25 countries around the world. These chapters have between 20 and 25 members - adding up to a whopping 750,000 members. That's a lot of red and pink hats. Their motto: fun, friendship, freedom, fulfilment and fitness. Pretty Amazing! Great Blog Ilsa, even if I am on the wrong side of middle age.