Friday, July 3, 2009

Musings of a Redhead

As you've undoubtedly concluded by now, I write about whatever the heck is on my mind on a given day. My hair has been unruly all day due to the humidity, so why not? And as an aside, why do so many body language articles claim that a woman touching her hair is a sign of interest? I mean, it could be, or it could be constantly escaping like mine does; some days I wish it was straight like it was when I was a little kid. I hope people realize that playing with your hair is a less obvious a tell than, say, maintaining eye contact or not minding what would normally be considered an invasion of personal space. Anyway...

Let's get this out of the way first: It's your fault that redheads are rarely attracted to other redheads. Oh, maybe it's okay over in England judging from Harry Potter, but almost no New Englander who is a redhead - especially one with any siblings - would take serious notice of a redhead of the opposite sex. Do you know why? "_____ has red hair too, is s/he your brother/sister?" Hear that 100 times before puberty, and the redheads of the opposite sex might as well not even exist; would you ever notice anyone that people might well think is your sibling? I didn't think so. Apparently, it's not just Asians and black folks who all look alike, since we look all alike enough to be related too.

Speaking of related, on a related note, I figured out something startling a few years ago. A friend and I were in the mall, minding our own business, when I noticed two things: 1. a small redheaded toddler was acting up. 2. everyone else around said toddler was giving me dirty looks, like I was responsible for the brat. I glanced over at brat's oblivious mom, and saw that she was a brunette. Then I was hit with a shocking epiphany - if I went over, picked the brat up, and walked away with her, people wouldn't think anything of it even if she began to scream her little head off. So I wrote a short story using that idea. Most people who read it admitted that yes, they would think that the real mother was crazy if she claimed kidnapping before they thought the redhead wasn't the kid's mother. Nice.

Not that my kids, if I have any, are likely to be redheads. Well, I suppose it's theoretically possible since Vynce and I are proof that folks with red and brown hair can produce kids with red hair, but my stronger preference has always been for guys with hair even darker than that; the Twilight Singers have the right idea about the appeal of black hair, you know? I'm content with the idea of kids who have a different hair color, so don't worry about me.

Actually, I decided when I was still in elementary school that I didn't want to have kids with red hair. I've talked to redheads from out west, and they seem to have had an easier childhood than most of the redheads I've known growing up here. (My dad noted that when Vynce took a self-defense based karate class as a little boy, that half of the kids in his class were redhead boys. 4% of the US population, but 50% of the class make up. Think about that) My mom, who is herself a redhead thinks that redheads are picked on so mercilessly growing up around here because there's still an undercurrent of anti-Irish, anti-Catholic sentiment all these years later. Maybe she's right. Either way, little redheads have to put up with bullying all through elementary school and it sucks. I don’t want any kids of mine subjected to that!

It was also kind of a confusing way to grow up too. On one hand, you have all your classmates telling you that having red hair is ugly and somehow bad in an unspecified way. And on the other we were taught by eighteen months to respond to the compliments we got from adults about our pretty/lovely/beautiful/gorgeous red hair. Wouldn't you have been confused too?

Having red hair is a lot like going around involuntarily yelling "look at me!" and everyone does...though since being old enough to fill out a training bra the lion's share of notice does come from males now, not chatty older women. Not that women still don't come up to talk to me, or worse yet touch my hair, like I'm still a child. I've had several friends (girls) complain that I don't notice how often guys are looking at me. Of course I notice in a general sense. I'm not autistic. I also realize that redheads aren't held to as high a standard of beauty as usual to attract attention, so why should I be terribly flattered by glances and stares? If I'd been born with brown hair, no one much would notice me.

"I could be the one your love could save/Baby you left your mark but I'm still in the dark" - Aranda, Still in the Dark

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