Thursday, January 13, 2005

Red hats? Purple sequins?

I actually feel a little sheepish about the Graswich thing cuz it didn't turn out very funny. Oh well. At least I got to use the word sheepish in a sentence.

There was an article in the Bee the other day (sunday, I think) about a meeting of the Red Hat Society, http://www.sacbee.com/content/women/story/11984625p-12859804c.html. Is it just me, or is this article completely condescending? Haven't heard of the red hat society? Here's a link: http://www.redhatsociety.com/ It's a social club for women over 50. They are supposed to wear red hats and purple outfits. I am obsessed with this club because to me it represents the invisibility of women over 50 in our culture. Once they're not considered attractive anymore, I think most people ignore middle aged women. I'm glad these ladies have a way to get together and geek out. But to combat it by wearing these god-awful outfits is too bad. I'm just surprised my mom isn't into this yet. She did dye her hair pink a few years ago to attract attention. Here's a poem about the red hat society:

"Ode to the Red Hat Society"by Sue Ellen Cooper
A poet put it very well.
She said when she was older,
She wouldn't be so meek and mild. She threatened to get bolder.
She'd put a red hat on her head, and purple on her shoulder.
She'd make her life a warmer place,
her golden years much golder.
We read that poem, all of us,
and grasped what she is saying.
We do not need to sit and knit,
although we all are graying.
We think about what we can do.
Our plans we have been laying.
Instead of working all the time,
we'll be out somewhere playing.
We take her colors to our hearts,
and then we all go shopping
For purples clothes and hats of red,
with giant brims a-flopping.
We're tired of working all the time,
and staying home and mopping.
We order pies and chocolate fudge,
and rich desserts with topping.
We crown ourselves as duchesses and countesses and queens.
We prove that playing dress-up isn't just for Halloween.
We drape ourselves in jewels,
feathers, boas, and sateen.
We see ourselves on television and in magazines.
We laugh, we cry, we hug a lot.
We keep each other strong.
When one of us goes out for fun,
the rest all go along.
We gad about, we lunch and munch,
in one big happy throng.
We've found the place where we fit in,
the place we all belong.

Anyway, I don't want to bag on this because it seems mean. Just thought I'd tell you a little about it in case you hadn't heard of it. There's also something else similar to this, although not as popular just yet, it's a clothing line called Quackers. I had read about it in the NYtimes, and it's the same kind of thing. It's a line of wacky sweatshirts and if you see another lady wearing one it's an excuse to make friends. They are pretty garish and always have an embroidered animal motif. Here's an excerpt from an article about the founder:

Jeanne's customers are also her fans, and they are passionate about Jeanne's Quacker Factory line of clothing. When asked about her key to success, Jeanne modestly replies, "Luck and loving what I do," but we know better. That is, surely, part of Jeanne's success is due to her understanding that other women share her own desire for clothing that is comfortable, individual, embellished and identifiable. Jeanne's customers are a loyal bunch because they are not just buying her clothing; they are buying into her positive attitude and joie de vivre. This is not just evidenced on her many Web sites, where fans join together to share their lives, loves and interests, but also by The Quacker Cruise. The bonds between Jeanne and her fans, or "Quackers" as they call themselves, are so strong, they even vacation together. Jeanne might design and manufacture clothing, but she offers much more. Love, acceptance, courage and self-confidence are just some of the added value she offers with her clothing. You need only tune into one of the Quacker Factory shows on QVC or visit the Quacker chat room on Yahoo to experience the devotion of her fans and the rapport they share with Jeanne.

I find this phenomenon (phenomena?) fascinating and sad. Why do middle-aged ladies in the U.S. feel such a lack of connection in our culture? How can people base friendships on such a small thing as being over 50 or wearing a loud sweatshirt? Where is the stuff like this for old dudes? And more importantly, will this happen to me and my friends?

Dan, I'm still hoping for a new Kings analysis but I understand you might have actual work to do and might not have time.

Michele, thanks for the top 10 list. Very interesting. Even though I didn't like The Life Aquatic that much, I have this weird thing with Wes Anderson movies where I don't like them the first time I see them, but I start liking them more and more as time passes and I watch them again. I think I am overwhelmed by the look and the music and the fussy details the first time. I finally re-watched the Royal Tenenbaums and this time I really liked it, but the first time I was distracted by what everyone was wearing and trying to recognize the songs.


12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good post Becky. I agree about it being pretty shitty how older women are viewed, but I don't think the red hat thing or the Quackers ladies are depressing. It's just an easy way for them to find other women with similar interests. It's not like they can go out to bars to find them. There is no doubt I will become one of the Quackers. With my love of comfortable, garish, animal themed sweatshirts I am half way there.
Also, congrats on showing up in Graswhich's column. I was so excited.

Heather

Anonymous said...

ps
The club for older men that hang out together and wear funny clothes is called golf.

Heather

Anonymous said...

Me, Biz & the Head were eating breakfast at the Fox & Goose a while ago & a group of around 20 red hat ladies came in. Natalie had to explain to me what it was & then I recalled that I had seen that poem. It is something that you're tempted to bag on but then you realize that it's cool for them so why should I care. I was waiting for the bathroom in that little corridor & a red hat lady was standing in there too. For some reason I got all nervous or anxious or something. Like she was gonna try & convert me! I guess it's just because, when someone is standing next to you wearing those extremely noticeable hats & shirts, you feel like you're supposed to say 'nice hat' or something. I do think it's for women who maybe led their "husband's life" a little more than theirs in their younger years & are now understanding the benefit of the extended group of friends. Maybe I'm wrong there though. I feel that our group of friends (I'm pretty sure I know most of you who read this) is important & somewhat special in that, while I know that people move away etc, we all keep in touch & have a pretty strong identity & bond with one another - even if it is just casual at times. Shit, I've probably spent 1000 nights with some of y'all since the Loft days & I still come back for more! So I'm not sure how many of you ladies will need to don the red hat in your later years. Except Heather - I'm looking forward to that one.
miller

Maya said...

The first time I took the Capitol Corridor to SF I sat near a group of Red Hat ladies. They were so cute and discombobulated. They laughed at me for knitting. Age role reversal I suppose.

alice said...

i wish my mom would join the red hat club. she just hangs out with her dogs, works on her house and does tons of yard work--the woman puts to shame most DIY chicks i know. not surprisingly, she has hardly any friends. i know this is partially by choice but it still would be nice to see her out on the town in a purple outfit with a dumb red hat on. in fact, i'd worry about her less if i ran into her at the crocker in a throng of brightly-decorated, post-menopausal ladies.

i think the presence of those kinds of clubs is just symbolic of the failure of nuclear family model. when the kids leave and your husband divorces you for a 25 year old girl who he can seduce with his money, what else do you have but your girlfriends? and if the only way you can show pride in your self is by dressing up like a clown, what the hell? hmmmmm. . .i guess that is kind of depressing. that's why i want to revolutionize the american notion of 'growing up.' i truly believe that so much of what looks like growing up on the outside squelches growing up on the inside (aka becoming a decent, loving human being who takes care of other people).

Anonymous said...

The Red Hat Society used to come to Tower -- probably still do. When I asked about their red hats one lady couldn't believe I hadn't heard of their society. I guess they are famous.

By the way, I thought The Life Aquatic was kind of lousy first time. Second time, however, it made more sense to me. I still have some harsh criticism of the film, but it has nothing top do with William Defoe. That man is brilliant.

-Heckamax

Anonymous said...

Miller! That was so sweet! A thousand nights indeed, and I loved every minute of it!

I also agree with Alice and the nuclear family thing. Our parent's generation fucked up by ditching their friends when they got married and had kids, and then they all got divorced and they've just been watching TV ever since. If they just kept hanging out with their homies, they wouldn't have to be red hattin' it. But, that's cool that they aren't just staying home alone! That's also why it's hard to bag on book club meetings at Starbucks. At least they're out of the house past 8-o-clock!

-michele

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, Life Aquatic is sweet. Definitley check it out again. I know what you mean about the fussy details, but I love that. Like how all their matching outfits were a little different from eachothers? Klaus was always wearing shorts? And I love it how they were just constantly cruising all over the ship, up and down, up and down. It's all part of the comedy. Anyway, I also totally loved the David Bowie covers by Seu Jorge. Did anyone recognize him from City of God?

-michele

beckler said...

I am so stoked to come back from my stupid errand running and find so many great comments!! I was just feeling a little about the blogging and thinking that this was a dumb post so it was a treat to come back to this! It's so great that no one used it to make cheap shots against the ladies (well, maybe Dave Smith will later but it might be the middle of the night in Australia right now). Willem Dafoe was so great in Life Aquatic. Comic genius.

Anonymous said...

I love the Red Hat ladies.
Perhaps it is based on my strong belief that I will be a
eccentirc old lady in funny clothes. (As opposed I guess to being an eccentric young lady in funny clothes)
I love seeing them on the light rail, all duded up for their trip to the museum or old sac and lunch or something.
They love each other for being sassy old broads.

The weird thing is how much merchandise you can buy based on the red hat, hallmark has a whole section.
I got a red hat cookie cutter for Christmas.

Anonymous said...

So I'm still trying to figure out what you found so "condescending" about the Bee article...I didn't find it condescending at all...at least not anymore so than your own comments such as "But to combat it by wearing these god-awful outfits is too bad. I'm just surprised my mom isn't into this yet. She did dye her hair pink a few years ago to attract attention..."

beckler said...

Hi anonymous critical person-
If my comments are somewhat condescending, does that mean that the article is not condescending? Can't we both be somewhat condescending? I think that the condescending tone of the article is less appropriate in the Bee, because it is a real paper. If I'm being somewhat fast and loose and cracking jokes it's cuz this is a silly blog that mostly only my friends read. Or is this my mom and are you mad about the pink hair crack?