Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Enough to make ME want to spit...

The Red Hat women irritate the hell out of me. It isn't that I think women over 50 are treated well in this culture--anyone over 50 is considered computer-illiterate, incapable of identifying Missy Elliott, and hopelessly out of it, and over-50 women are the target of every imaginable type of stupid humor. I deeply sympathize with the Red Hat group's condition, but I am turned off by their solution.

From their website:

While visiting a friend in Tucson several years ago, Sue Ellen impulsively bought a bright red fedora at a thrift shop, for no other reason than that it was cheap and, she thought, quite dashing. A year or two later she read the poem "Warning" by Jenny Joseph, which depicts an older woman in purple clothing with a red hat. Sue Ellen felt an immediate kinship with Ms. Joseph. She decided that her birthday gift to her dear friend, Linda Murphy, would be a vintage red hat and a copy of the poem. She has always enjoyed whimsical decorating ideas, so she thought the hat would look nice hanging on a hook next to the framed poem. Linda got so much enjoyment out of the hat and the poem that Sue Ellen gave the same gift to another friend, then another, then another.

One day it occurred to these friends that they were becoming a sort of "Red Hat Society" and that perhaps they should go out to tea... in full regalia. They decided they would find purple dresses which didn't go with their red hats to complete the poem's image.

Aside from wondering why a red hat wouldn't go with a purple dress, I am always perplexed by a group of people who think it is a good idea to appear in public in identical dress. But that is a matter of personal taste, to be sure. It is the contrivance of the movement that bothers me--the let's-have-a-lot-fun-in-a-public-way-and-show-'em factor.

Being female and over 50 does give women some common ground: loss of estrogen and progeterone and all that goes with it, a wealth of life experience, and dismissal by a culture that worships youth. I can buy that. And if over-50 women want to join a support group. I'm all for it. But wearing red hats, purple dresses, and getting organized around a mediocre poem makes me cringe. It is, as the British say, too much of a muchness.

And now the damned Red Hat thing is a cottage industry. There are Red Hat bookmarks, T-shirts, magnets, greeting cards, tea, dog bandanas, luggage, jewelry, a magazine, and--of course--hats. In any department store, there is an entire display of red hats with purple bands.

There are also some really sickening chapter names: Feisty Femmes, Cranberry Tarts, Boston Babes, Dynamic Divas...oh, make it stop. They have even taken this folly to Canada and the Philippines (Marvelous Mauves).

If you are a woman and over 50, I like to think you are too busy working, reading, writing, dancing, cooking, flirting, running a business, and listening to Missy Elliott to feel a need to wear a silly costume and advertise to the world that you are a crone and mean business.

5 Comments:

"If you are a woman and over 50, I like to think you are too busy working, reading, writing, dancing, cooking, flirting, running a business, and listening to Missy Elliott to feel a need to wear a silly costume..."

Right.

And what is it about this country that we seem to need to define ourselves by shopping for something?

Rather than by doing something?

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