Hats off to these ladies

Published 9:37 pm Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Because many stories tell better in the past tense, I’d preface this statement by saying “when I was a little girl.” But anyone who knows me would quickly correct me to phrase the statement in the present tense.

Either way, I was — and am — a loud girl with similar tastes that cause me to gravitate toward all bold things.

Naturally, the color combination of red and purple appealed to me even as a young girl.

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As I started to develop a sense of style, I remember loving the red and purple hats we’d find in some stores or the red and purple pins in others.

My mom explained to me that I was too young to wear red and purple. That honor was reserved for the ladies of the Red Hat Society.

I never knew much about the society, but I remember one day in my mid-teens my mom pointing out a group of the women with their beautiful red hats made of everything from feathers to sequins, arranged delicately on the side of their head or so large you could hardly see the woman under the hat.

Whatever its size or decoration, each woman wore their hat with a tactful defiance I admired.

It was as if they were saying to the world, “I’ve earned my right to wear this.”

Well, as I found out on Wednesday, that is exactly what they were saying.

I had the privilege of observing and interviewing a group of women from the Duchess of Windsor branch of the Red Hat Society on Wednesday.

They weren’t one bit shy about their red and purple outfits. They color-coordinated everything from their earrings to their purses to their eye shadow.

They talked to me about the friendships they’ve made and the activities they do every month.

And while each of their stories is different, there is one thing they’ve all learned and have in common.

They’ve learned to enjoy their life — to laugh out loud, to have fun learning new things they might not be good at, to wear things that they like and not to care what others think about it.

While there is weight to the statement that we ought not to act in a way that would reflect badly on our faith or family, I think these women have mastered the fine art of enjoying life.

Being bold and laughing out loud are not antithetical to being a lady.

In fact, for many women, those traits are necessary for living a full life.