Angela Kelsey

Tell the Story

Freedom To Wear the Hat

Filed in Domestic Violence :: July 20, 2012

I’ve been writing a series of freedom-centered writing prompts, and I want to share some of them here.

Here’s the first one:

In ancient Rome, slaves who were to be freed were given a hat called a pileus during a ceremony of emancipation. Reading that, I thought, “why would they want to wear a special hat–couldn’t they want to look ‘normal’ and hatless, not showing that they had ever been enslaved at all?

I caught myself. Isn’t that the same thing as asking why we can’t “pass” as someone who’s never experienced abuse or trauma of any kind?

Most days I can accept, and some days I can even celebrate, who I am because of my experiences. I am proud to wear the hat of a survivor.

Can you wear your hat? Are you free enough?




  1. whollyjeanne

    This is my piles: saying publicly that I belong to several lineage societies. Why is that emancipating? Because it’s not politically correct in so many parts of America to day to be patriotic or proud to be an American (I’m not always, by the way), let alone proclaim that pride by joining such staid (speaking in terms of stereotype and reputation only) organizations. But I love belonging to these organizations. Some of the meetings are rather stuffy for my taste, but I love belonging and I love learning about not only the history of my family but the history of our country (and beyond). At many of these organizational meetings and events, we wear hats, and I have to tell you that I LOVE wearing a hat. Big broad-brimmed hats, festooned with netting and bows and the occasional feather (no fruit). I just feel different when I don my hat. And gloves – yes, we wear gloves, too, and I actually have gloves I wore back in the day.