Tags: Retirement | Red Hat Society

What Is The Red Hat Society?

By    |   Saturday, 22 August 2015 09:36 AM

“When I am an old woman I shall wear purple; with a red hat which doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me.”

These opening lines of the Jenny Joseph poem entitled “Warning” have inspired women around the world to celebrate aging with togetherness, community and what has become known as the Red Hat Society.

The Poetry Archive said the English poet has done many things in her life including work as a newspaper reporter, English teachers and “landlady” in a pub. She began publishing poems in the 1950s.

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The poem, which was written in 1961 is referred to with many titles, but is best known in the United States by the title “When I am an Old Woman.” The poem became popular in the mid-1980s, when Elizabeth Lucas acquired rights to the work, according to the artist’s website. Lucas sold the poem on T-shirts and tote bags and other decorative items and clothing. It was a hit, and began to inspire women to form groups which became known as the Red Hat Society.

The Red Hat Society movement started with a birthday gift of a red hat and a copy of Joseph’s poem from a woman named Sue Ellen Cooper to her friend, according to the society’s website. Cooper was trying to encourage her friend to grow old playfully. She repeated the gift and in April of 1998 held a tea for her friends wearing purple dresses and red hats. The idea was so popular that it grew quickly and spread. The Red Hat Society claims about 20,000 chapters worldwide, with about 25 members in each chapter.

Women who join the Red Hat Society are encouraged to get together for fun, friendship, freedom, fulfilment and fitness. The emphasis is on fun outings, however, the group has a more serious mission to change the way women — particularly older women — are viewed in society.

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The opening lines of the Jenny Joseph poem entitled “Warning” have inspired women around the world to celebrate aging with togetherness, community and what has become known as the Red Hat Society.
Red Hat Society
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2015-36-22
Saturday, 22 August 2015 09:36 AM
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