Purple Dresses, Red Hats, & Conformity?

Yesterday, I heard a great story from a friend of mine who shared with me and Debbie about the Red Hat Society

The Red Hat Society is a group of women who are usually older than 50 years of age who get together for a fun time celebrating life together.  It sounds like something a lot of women would really enjoy!

Our friend shared that the beginning of the society began with a poem called “Warning” by Jenny Joseph in which she warns others that when she gets older she will begin doing whatever she wants to do including wearing a purple dress and a red hat.

Our friend pointed out the irony of her situation when she was invited to one of these groups.  The entire point of the poem was that as an older woman you should have the freedom to do whatever you want, but if you want to join the Red Hat Society you have to wear a purple dress and a red hat.  Our friend didn’t want to dress like everyone else, she wanted to wear whatever she wanted.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I think women should wear purple dresses and red hats whenever they want, and it makes sense that the Red Hat Society involves women wearing red hats.

After hearing the story, however, I could not help but be reminded that we seem to be drawn towards conformity.  In our businesses, churches, and in our lives – we tend to move towards getting others to look, act, dress, or be the same.  What is much more difficult, yet even more amazing would be to draw out the uniqueness in each other.

How can we better celebrate uniqueness among those with whom you work or serve?

At Mosaic we have used assessments such as the MBTI, Gallup’s StrengthsFinder, and the Birkman Method along with conversations about people’s passions and gifts.

What are some other ways to help people discover their uniqueness?

Maybe there needs to be a Crazy Hat Society – wear any color you want!  🙂

Showing 3 comments
  • Josiah

    What if I don’t want to wear a hat?

  • Sandra

    You’re brave to write about a women’s group. Though I’m not part of the RHS, my best friend is (she’s way under 50, which makes her a Pink Hatter). She and her group gather monthly to do something fun and/or serve their community. If there’s any conformity, it’s that they wear their respective colors in a style all their own.

    Isn’t it the same for our faith? One can say that joining a faith community means complete conformity, with no allowance for variance. But, just like with my friend’s RHS, communities that thrive are those that allow for and encourage uniqueness. The one thing that will (hopefully) always bind us is the color of Christ’s blood shed for us.

  • Eric Bryant

    Very funny, Josiah!

    I don’t know if I’m brave, Sandra, but I was definitely scared to put up this post. 🙂

    I love the spirit of the Red Hat Society, but I did find my friend’s dilemma ironic.

    I think we need to invite people to the same faith (beliefs and convictions and character), but realize all have different ways to contribute and serve and invest.

    Hoping my mom and grandmas get what I’m saying and don’t get mad at me. 🙂

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