Earlier this summer I was invited to the ultimate pajama party in Paris -- the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, that is. Fifteen hundred dynamic women in their signature red hats converged upon Sin City for the annual convention of the Red Hat Society. Celebrating its fifteenth anniversary, the Red Hat Society is the world's largest social organization for women. It is a genuine sisterhood of women embracing their middle age and forging new and exciting paths together instead of buying into the false idea that a woman's worth expires at 50.
The city of Las Vegas holds quite a few special memories for me. I spent a lot of time there during the late '70s and early '80s when my husband's show, Vega$, was shooting on location. While Aaron was on set, I split my time between the dollar slots at the Desert Inn and playing games with our children at the Circus Circus. The Red Hatters three-day "Golden Age of Glamour"-themed gathering marked my first trip back as a single woman on my own.
I was thrilled to arrive and find myself immediately in the company of enthusiastic Red Hatters from all walks of life. Some of them were eighty years young while others were thirty-somethings who had obviously figured out where the real action was happening. The fabulous Hat District was bustling with shoppers looking for unique DIY jewelry and handbags, not to mention the Red Hat Society's branded T-shirts, frames and vintage style hats.
As we all know, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas," and this included the panel on "Understanding Menopause and Some Other Topics Less Talked About." All joking aside, I heard that the forum initiated important discussion about menopause and options for hormone therapy. The goal of the panel was to encourage women to educate themselves and take responsibility for their health. The conversation was led by Lauren Streicher, M.D., a noted obstetrician and menopause practitioner.
A stage adaptation of everybody's favorite game show, "The Price is Right," was the next stop for many of the Red Hatters. At the live show, Red Hatters were randomly selected to play "Pinko," "The Big Wheel" and "It's in the Bag." Contestants won cars, vacations and appliances. Later in the day, we crossed paths with groups of Red Hatters dressed up for the Golden Age costume party. Some had transformed into their favorite classic starlets while others were glammed up in outrageous showgirl style headdresses and feather boas.
At the pajama breakfast, the ballroom was filled with Red Hatters in their finest bed clothes. They all looked absolutely marvelous and as we crowned our new Red Hat Society Queen, I felt like a school girl all over again. It was at this moment that George Bernard Shaw's quote, "Youth is Wasted on the Young" popped into my mind. I thought about how sadly it is true. Advertisers, marketing executives -- many times we women ourselves fall into the trap of believing youth is only for the young. Looking around the room, I marveled at the unbridled joy and enthusiasm of my Red Hat sisters who are taking charge of the next chapter of their lives.
In our shared experiences as wives, sisters and mothers, we know the significance of having emotional support. As empty-nesters, widows and survivors, we also know the importance of giving ourselves permission to laugh again, have fun again -- and live again.
I left Las Vegas knowing what I did when I arrived: That there is indeed fun after 50. Starting a Red Hat Society chapter is the perfect way to create your own legacy of fun, fulfillment and friendship and to show that Red Hatters matter.
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