By Phyllis Irene Radford
Warning, this blog is photo heavy.
I recently encountered an individual who shuddered and shook his head at a middle-aged woman at a tourist attraction who had green streaks in her hair and had gelled it into spikes. She was also wearing layers of floating black that looked tattered when the wind caught her draperies. The man said, “It isn’t Halloween yet.”
Why is it that costumes for adults are reserved for Halloween only? Some people like reinventing themselves on a daily basis. Some people aren’t afraid to broadcast who they really are deep down inside. The gentleman mentioned above, I suspect, fears stepping outside convention. I know people like that. Color coordination in proper combinations, hems at a precise length, necklines revealing only a certain amount of cleavage… boring to the point of invisibility.
The Red Hat Society was founded by women who needed to step beyond the conventions that make them invisible after a certain age. Once we reach fifty, who cares if we combine red and purple? Who cares if we go out and have fun and attract attention? What do we have to lose?
Why are we so afraid of being judged by strangers that we embrace invisibility?
But then the Society got organized. The minute they command that one must wear purple clothing and sport red hats (the gaudier the better), the command makes them part of the establishment we are rebelling against.
We do wear costumes throughout our life but we mask them as uniforms. Look at policemen, firefighters, nurses, and priests to name a few. Even the postalworkers have uniforms. Then there are special events. We wear specific robes at graduation.
I worked at an historical house museum and wore costumes as part of my job. Here I am standing beside the portrait of a distant side relation—William Clark of Lewis and Clark married a Radford. And I attended Lewis and Clark College. Small world.
The next spring my best friend and I were flower girls at the coronation ceremony for the Sea Fair Queen in Seattle. Dorothy Provine went on to act in some forgettable projects made memorable to me because I met her when she first got started.
So costumes are not just for children at ages when they try to figure out who they are and what their place in the world is. Costumes are not just for Halloween when we let loose our inner demons.
Costumes are a part of life. Celebrate life and explore your inner extrovert. Life is more than safe conventions and hiding in the shadows. *Remember the Twelfth Commandment: If you can’t hide it, flaunt it.
* The Eleventh is: Thou shalt not be found out. But it doesn’t apply here.