The saying, "When I am an old woman I shall
wear purple With a red hat that doesn't go and doesn't suit me..."
has often been associated with a new style of aging. But it's actually
part of a poem written by Jenny Joseph in 1961 titled "Warning"
which now has become the mantra for a delightfully fun, women's 50+
age group called The Red Hat Society.
"We're like a rebuttal to the 'Empty Nest Syndrome',"
Suni Jordan, 58,
queen mother of the "Sassy Red Hatters" Santee chapter
said with a laugh as
she described the organization. "We've done our nurturing,
raised our kids and
all that, and now it's our turn to nurture ourselves a bit!"
Long before the "Ya Ya Sisterhood," craze, enthusiasm
generated by the Red Hat Society (www.redhatsociety.com) began as
a result of a few women who
decided to greet middle age with verve, humor and elan. The founder,
Ellen Cooper, while visiting a friend in Tucson several years ago,
impulsively bought a bright red fedora at a thrift shop, for no
other reason than it was cheap, and she thought, quite dashing.
A year or two later she read the poem, "Warning" by Jenny
Joseph and decided she'd give a copy of it along with a vintage
red hat as a birthday gift to a friend.
Both women enjoyed giving and receiving the gift so much they repeated
seveal times over and before they knew it this friendship group
of Red Hat
recipients became the Red Hat Society which now boasts 150,000 members
5,500 chapters worldwide!
"It's all about celebrating life and having fun," said
like the weather). "And we never let age get in the way of
Unike many women's organizations, this one is not about charitable
fundraising. But that's not to say that these women are not involved
those types of efforts because many of them are, just not in conjunction
with the Red Hat Society.
"This is a group that's just for us --- to nurture ourselves
and each other
by simply being together, playing, enjoying each other's company
--- so we
don't ever think about the age thing," Suni shared. "We're
together with no expectations of each other, other than just accepting
other for who we are."
With a group made up of women over age 50, many members are widowed
divorced, but regardless of marital and/or life status,the Red Hat
enables the outrageous side of them to come out.
"Imagine the response to a group of 20+ ladies, all dressed
wearing chic red hats and converging on a local restaurant for lunch,"
Suni said. "It's quite a site and a way for us to say to the
look at us --- we're over 50 and we're OK!'"
Far from traditional, this group beats to their own drum which
makes it so fun. An "hysterain" keeps a scrapebook, instead
of a historian,
and the Red Hat Soceity oath states each member must "Uphold
non-existent rules, promise to always enjoy life, and always have
especially when wearing my red hat."
Gatherings vary from high teas, wine tastings, and chocolate parties
outings like Julian, casinos, shopping, and bay cruises, and even
night pajama party is thrown in now and then.
With fourteen chapters now in San Diego county, with just a couple
openings, Suni says they're always looking for queen mothers to
chapters. So if you've been looking for an opportunity to be Queen
day, (well actually, it would likely have to be longer than just
check out the web page, grab a few gal pals and you go girls!
Ferrin is a local gerontologist residing in Carlsbad. She is a certified
AARP retirement specialist, motivational speaker, consultant, and
author of a
nationally released book titled, "What's Age Got To Do With
It?" For column
ideas contact her at (760)438-2126 or on the internet at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kelly Ferrin, Gerontologist Lifestyles (760)438-2126 web: