Red Hat Society - Grand Rapids, Michigan

Red hatters are woman who are not afraid to face aging with gusto, silliness, and pride. They are women who have worked hard in their careers and raising children, and are now ready to kick back and enjoy themselves dressed in red and purple.  So what exactly is the red society?  The definition from the RHS website is: "A global society of woman approaching the age of fifty or beyond that connects and supports women in their pursuit of Fun, Freedom, and Fulfillment."  Currently, there are over 42,000 chapters around the world and an estimated 1.5 million members.

How does one write about a first-hand experience with the Red Hat Society? Well, it’s difficult. Try processing a fast paced weekend with 300 middle-aged women dressed in purple and bright red hats, participating in a range of activities from belly dancing classes, to a pajama breakfast, to the official society sport: shopping! The notable shopping room is where the red hatters could add to their bling of fake diamonds, hats, boas, and purple attire. It was a spectacle!

For two full days I had the opportunity to photograph the red-hatting women in their full glory.  As one of the only males on the scene, you can imagine how they quickly adopted me as the one to tease. I was overwhelmed by the ladies’ friendliness towards each other, by their sisterhood, and their eagerness to have fun.

It’s one thing to see a large group of middle-aged woman dressed in red and purple together in a hotel conference room, but when you spot a red hatter on the street, the individual certainly stands out. I came across the lady pictured above who was people-watching from a Starbucks patio. I immediately knew I had to take the picture because it was my only opportunity to find a red hatter in public. And what a lovely scene it was.