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RED hats, purple dresses, kazoos and no responsibilities are the order of the day for the Sisters with a Twist, also known as the Red Hat Society, who have recently crowned their new queen Judy Black.
The social group has a focus on women empowering women to be a useful part of society and to be out there, says Judy, who likes to be known as Judy, Queen of Bubbles.
“Unfortunately women do become invisible as we get older, it’s happened to me personally,” she says.
“As you can see, we are very visible now.”
The group is for women over 50, although they do welcome younger women called “pinkies” who can wear lavender dresses and pink hats until they turn 50 and “reduate”, says Judy.
The Red Hats draw inspiration from the Jenny Joseph poem “Warning”, which starts:
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple, with a red hat that doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me.
Judy says the poem was written about growing old disgracefully.
She says there are 67 ladies in the Canberra chapter, which started 13 years ago, and they get together once a month for morning teas, lunches or dinners, as well as special events such as barefoot bowls, theatre and pyjama breakfasts.
There’s also a Council of Hats that helps Judy with her ruling duties.
“We don’t have an agenda, it’s all very hedonistic and it’s all about us!” says Judy.
“It’s for women to have fun – no men, no grandchildren, no problems.
“As you age everybody has their issues, but for an hour or two, or three, we’re just having fun, all the problems are out the window and it’s just fabulous. Everybody just turns up in their finery and has fun.
“I’ve heard from women who were sitting at home and never going out, but since they discovered Red Hats they’re in op shops finding purple clothes and jewellery, and getting excited about life again. And that’s what we want.”
Judy says that as queen, her responsibility is to create an environment where women can be themselves and feel comfortable.
“I also encourage them to be as silly as me,” she says.
“We’re there to have fun and friendship, there’s not enough of that for older women. It’s unique and welcoming.
“The best thing is women finding themselves again. Too many of us are stuck in the house – we may have retired from work, lost a partner, the children have left home and we don’t know how to get out again.
“We want to empower women and get them back to who they were and enjoying life.
“That’s what it’s all about – let’s have a bit of fun, play up and misbehave!”