How do we respond to aging?
Here’s how over 1.5 million women aged 50 and older do it: They don red hats, mismatched with boas and purple outfits, and flaunt their devil-may-care attitude in restaurants, tea parties, conventions and just about anyplace else they care to be.
It’s the Red Hat Society.
“The Red Hat Society began as a result of a few women deciding to greet middle age with verve, humor and élan,” says founder and Exalted Queen Mother Sue Ellen Cooper. “We believe silliness is the comedy relief of life, and since we are all in it together, we might as well join red-gloved hands and go for the gusto together. Underneath the frivolity, we share a bond of affection, forged by common life experiences and a genuine enthusiasm for wherever life takes us next.”
The society traces its origin to a birthday gift Cooper, an artist in California, gave in 1998 to a friend turning 55: a red fedora and a Jenny Joseph poem. The poem begins: “When I am an old woman I shall wear purple / With a red hat that doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me.”
According to the Red Hat Society’s web site, today the movement has over 1.5 million registered members, with more than 40,000 chapters in the United States and thirty other countries.
What do members do, aside from wearing red and purple? “We do exactly what we wish to do,” they say. They network and nurture, celebrate life, have fun, and do it anyway they want to.
The Red Hat Society is a metaphor: Aging is inevitable, but we can face it in a positive way. We can’t always choose what happens to us, but we can choose our attitude about it.
What do you think of the Red Hat Society?
Are you a member? Know someone who is?
What does this approach to aging mean to you?
Want to learn more about the Red Hat Society? Visit the group’s website. Not 50 yet? There’s room for you, but you’ll have to wear a Pink Hat until you turn the half-century mark.
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