Since Boomer women (born between 1945 and 1964) make up great swathes of the population in the US as well as Europe, we are not surprised to hear that our sisters in the States have started some great communities celebrating older women.
The Women’s Room reader Hilda Marshall Johnson has brought The Red Hat Society to our attention, which started in the US in 1998 and has spread all around the globe and is now the biggest community of women over 50 in the world. Hilda belongs to the Fowey chapter, the Red Hot Pokers.
We like the sound of it for a number of reasons, not least because it was inspired by a poem that celebrates clothes (Warning, by Jenny Joseph), including the eponymous red hat and purple dresses, which all members wear when they meet up. But also because they main purpose of the community is to celebrate silliness and have a damn good time, which we heartily condone.
The founder of the society, Sue Ellen Cooper says on the society's website “The Red Hat Society began as a result of a few women deciding to greet middle age with verve, humour and élan. 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".
Hilda claims it’s not just a blast, a bit like the WI after a couple of martinis, but if you are new to an area and want to make friends, it links you in with like minded women and even Red Hatters from abroad. She tells us "We have entertained women from other parts of Britain, Australia and America and one of our group travelling alone met up with others in Australia and New Zealand."
She is not quite sure where how her group got its fiery name, which was chosen after a lively visit to Ascot, when a number of names were discussed, "But we felt it was wiser to wait until the following morning to choose!" she says. We also liked the Texan chapter of the society, which have named themselves the Red Hat Rockettes, their website can not be viewed without giggling, totally bonkers but undeniably cheerful. And according to Hilda it would seem the hats and dresses help the enjoyment along "It’s fun, all inclusive and you can get up to all sorts of mischief when you’re in disguise".
Check out the The Red Hat Society website for details on a group near you.