This I Believe

Heather - York, Pennsylvania
Entered on September 25, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30

I wear hats like jewelry. I’m not talking about run-of-the-mill baseball caps. I don’t even own one anymore.

I’m talking about hats—stylish ones, crazy ones, old ones, weird ones. My favorite hats are ones my grandma knitted. Well, not necessarily my grandma, but someone’s grandma made them with loving care. Stitch by stitch, their story is tenderly told in their uniqueness. I find them everywhere—yard sales, basements, thrift shops, lost and founds. My current favorite is purple yarn with silver threads and one big pompom on the side. Or front—sometimes I look like a unicorn when I wear it, but I don’t care.

I have Italian wool hats, floppy hats, grandpa hats, church hats, stocking hats…

They’ve defined the periods of my life. Paper sailor hats as a child, the stocking Adidas cap I wore for months straight in high school, my oversized, wooly-bear club hat, that coveted “fuzzy ball” hat my friend and I fought over for years (and neither has now), the hardhat I got when I started my new job (it has my name on it!)…the party we had forever known as “The Great Hat Exchange”… I think about the hats I have loved and lost, like jilted lovers that fell out of favor.

I think about all the times some poor woman said to me “You look so good in hats. I wish I could wear hats, they look funny on me,” or some such nonsense. What do they see in me that makes me special? I don’t have a secret hat-wearing gene. I just have the confidence to know I look good no matter what. How could the women’s movement have come so far and gained so little ground? Why do women continue to relegate themselves to self-imposed second-class citizenry?

This I believe: Any and all women can wear hats! Be bold!

Sixty years ago, you wouldn’t leave the house without a hat. Hats gave the public a little peak into who you were, what you wanted in life, where you were going, when no one asked women those things. Hats were personal. Especially church hats—big, bold, colorful, ornate church hats, Glory to the lord! And even that is fading now. Hats are a lost art; fashion trends don’t consider hats anymore. They are merely what you wear when you have a bad hair day.

But not me—I never listen to that little voice that tells me my nose is too big, red isn’t my color, that skirt’s too short, or any of the other self-defeating things women tell themselves every day.

I love hats so much, I actually look forward to the day I reach that certain age and can join the Red Hat Society. And I’m sure that stage of my life will be defined by the hat I choose. I’m thinking maybe a slick pimp hat in crushed red velvet with a big purple feather. What can I say? I’ve always liked my jewelry a little gaudy…