"Redheads are Trending" {Or maybe they are witches!}

Monday, February 27, 2012

{Nina Garcia & Tim Gunn: Oscars}

Dear Nina Garcia {Not really but let's pretend},

First let me say I was so excited to not only see Tim Gunn on the red carpet but you along with him! I must say I have missed you both since you are not apart of the Runway All-stars. Second let me say this isn't truly directed at you Nina, I still think you're top-notch, but I have been writing this blog post in my head way before the blog was a glint in cyber mama's eyes.  As I was watching I was hanging on every word about your top 3 dressed list of the night so far; as I was eager to hear your point of view on fashion that wasn't crafted in less than 4 hours. Jessica Chastain topped your list. As you and Tim were discussing this look you said, and I quote, "It's that red hair..." Well, it's not actually an accessory piece -but okay, she has great hair, perhaps it looks especially nice with her dress. But then you went on to say, "redheads are really trending right now." {Insert the sound of a record backing up or scratching or whatever that sound is when someone says something and you go, What?!} Redheads are trending right now? Huh? Do groups of people "trend?"  Well, perhaps they do in Hollywood, but I don't think it's appropriate to say out loud. And don't worry I am not totally directly relating this to a race issue, well okay, I will later, but right now, I am just saying... I can can relate to it as a race issue in ways...black women who are seemingly praised at times because they are successful and black. Or Latina women, like J lo who will always be the symbol of a perfect Latina...er, derriere. Or the Asian kids who are good at math or justifying all our products being made in China because they all have those little hands. Or how a Muslim woman who wears a hijab are simply slaves to misogynist religion and have no voice of their own. These stereo-types run the gamut of being out-right racist and being accepted stereo-types.

{Jessica Chastian: Oscars}

I came out the gate with a glowing fuzz of red hair and I have had to endure the juxtaposition of peoples opinions on it all my life. Not only through personal comments but in general statements as the one I quoted above. From some research I once did I found red hair comes from a gene that was most commonly found in the areas that had the most severe ice age. Apparently red hair, like blond hair, with fair skin, is that in the far northern regions, there wasn't enough sun to help us manufacture vitamin D.  So light skin became better for survival because it can absorb more sunlight and retain more vitamin D. And on the flip side of the coin in areas where there is more sun, the skin adapted to be darker, as did the hair. Our coloring, whether it be on our head, our skin or our eyes, isn't something that denotes temperaments as much as temperatures. So when people are judged, ridiculed or labeled simply because of this, well, I find it really annoying. Honestly I could care less what two adults say in jest to each other privately, we are all guilty of making "fun" at times, or generalizations. In fact I certainly don't want to give the impression that I mind at all when my friends make fun of me. Or when an nice old grandpa calls me "red." I kind of like those things actually. But what has me all bugged is when you know you can say something about a group of people publicly and get away with it. Well, we should probably leave that to the comedians, should we not? Blonds have more fun...Brunettes are smarter...people under 40 should never let themselves go grey. Well, perhaps this hits more than one nerve because you can throw sexism into that mix as well, because these sweeping allegations based on characteristics of what we look like are especially reserved for women. Unless you have red hair, then it's just a generally accepted free for all. And that's where it passes the line for me of pure sexism into a form of racism.

{me}

As a young girl I couldn't stand in a grocery line without the checker asking where I got my red hair from, which was always quite awkward considering I got it from my father, a man I had never met or known. Old ladies thought I was the cutest thing in the world; little boys hated me. I was called tomato head by mean classmates, which never made sense to me considering my hair wasn't actually the color of a tomato at all. Carrot maybe, but carrot top? No, carrot tops are actually green. As a teenager I was consistently asked (in all seriousness) if I could be asked a "personal question." Oh and did I always know what was coming next. Yep, something along the line of "does the carpet match the drapes." It was as though I held some magical answer that unlocked the universe. It's an odd place to find yourself in when you are constantly marginalized by your peers -then when they finally show a little interest in what you have to say it had to do with my pubic hair. Awkward.

As I got older I was often slapped on the shoulder by an old guy who heckled that he bet I was fiery just like his first wife "who had red hair too . . . and stabbed him with a fork." Or asked "Is true? Are redheads really good in bed?" I can't tell you how man times I have been told "I was pretty for a redhead." Or had some guy tell me he has a "thing for redheads" like I had come across a real stroke of luck. When in truth this declaration has always been a pretty good sign to excuse myself as quickly as possible from declarers company. I have been high fived by other redheads while walking down the street for sharing some form of the red hair gene. I have been screamed at numerous times from large pick up trucks who like to hoot and whistle from their cabin "fire in the hole." My first nickname was fire-crotch or "FC" for short. All my life I have wondered why is it such an appropriate and accepted form of  stereo-typing?  And I should be clear I do not compare this on a broad level to true hate speech or hate crimes as we see with homophobia or true racism, I am such saying it is a form of discrimination that continues to be accepted. Like, why do some sperm banks not accept male redheaded doners? Why in the movies are the meanest little boys always the ones with red hair and freckles? Having red hair seems to be the last great frontier of open and accepted stereo-types and derogatory comments, at least in America. "Ginger" is the newest one. This I will not be called - not by friend or foe. Perhaps it was because in my adult ignorance of self acceptance I didn't realize redheads were still being made fun of all the time... until I heard the word ... Ginger . Um hm, it came from a South Park episode in which cartman declared "gingervitis" was a disease (ok, so that is actually kind of funny). Anyway, this little 'haha' funny went on to cause some serious troubles for "gingers." In fact there was a movement of sorts which was forged on Facebook, not the good kind like we saw in Egypt, but the bad kind like "kick a ginger day" in which a day was declared to kick people with red hair. Yeah, I know, it's nuts! That actually is a hate crime.

                {The mean kid from A Christmas Story - You can tell he's mean by his freckles}
            
I won't even go into the freckles but I will say while talking with mother about one of her 8,000,000 chemical peels, and her retelling the story of how it burned her face off, she said maybe I could get one and get my freckles removed. Hmm. Well, I don't want to. In the summer my freckles get dark and fierce and always someone makes a comment such as "you have a lot freckles." Really? Man I had no idea, that mirror I  ordered 6 weeks ago from the Sears and Roebuck catalog just hasn't come in yet.

I am different. Less than 1% of the worlds population has red hair. Good news is I personally don't see this as a negative. I think it's kind of neat, some people might call it unique. I love my red hair. I even love my freckles, (weird I know). But it's who I am. In fact not having my father around as a child but getting my hair from him and his side of the family made me feel more connected to my roots, my history, my ethnicity. I know I come from a line of peoples somewhere that shared these unique qualities. As his lineage could be traced back hundreds of years to Scotland. I loved feeling like I came from a "peoples" some where. And for the record, NO, REDHEADS ARE NOT GOING TO GO EXTINCT SOMEDAY. Geez. See what I have to deal with Nina? Do you know by how many strangers I am told that "my kind" are going extinct. Are we being hunted for our pelts? Did you know that there are Mexican Jews? Did you know there are Christians in Egypt? Did you know that there is red hair also found in Iran and Pakistan and Afghanistan?


But back to my burning question, why is there this strange dichotomy with red hair? It is unique and beautiful one second and witch like the next. Well, like all forms of discrimination it dates way, way back. Greeks believed that redheads turned to vampires when they died. Could this be why redheads are trending? Vampires sure are. Egyptians both dyed their hair red and yet many redheads were also burned to death. Having red hair, freckles and green eyes was enough during the times of witch hunts to burn you at the stake. I don't want to get all melodramatic on you here Nina, but saying redheads are "trending" right now, just kind of lit a fire under me, so maybe I am a little fiery? Or maybe I was burned at the stake in a past life and this just brings up my post traumatic stress disorder from a previous life. Perhaps I just don't like it when any race or any person/s are labeled and there is public acceptance of this. Maybe it was because as a young girl I imagined if I ever had children with red hair we would have finally moved passed being an accepted target for mean jokes and comments. But as an adult I see, and not just with your comment, but in general, this isn't true. Human difference is something to embrace, not to exploit.  We are all one people with the same make-up just very minor variations. But for the record, Nina, I hope this redhead trend last a very, very long time so that little girls (and boys) with red hair can grow up to feel good about themselves. But let's just toss all kids into that mix. All the different kinds.

And here's my best dressed Oscar winner of last night...I picked a red head too and let me just say she's a real trend setter with her red hair and a fuchsia dress!

10 comments:

  1. Thumbs up!!! Great post
    See you around
    Lolo

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  2. Wow. Who knew redheads were so picked on? If being a redhead means you are a descendant of a severe ice age, I should become a redhead any day now...winter here is lasting forever! Nice post.

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  3. Fun post! Now the dilemma...to dye my hair red or not!

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    1. Ah! I think you are safe! If you want to dye it red, you should. A natural red head is not the same as person who dyes their hair red. As a person who goes tanning will not suddenly turn italian or anything.

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  4. Great post.... although i think she pulled a Nicole Kidman look a like(another great red head)

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    1. i would have to agree with both statements : )

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  5. The girl in the fuchsia dress is Emma Stone right? Love the color on her complexion!!

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    1. Yes it is. i love that she wore pink.

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  6. Oh man! I can relate to this post sooooooo well. It has always bugged me that none of my brunette or blonde sisters have ever been asked the carpet/drapes question, but I got asked that at least 2 or 3 times a week from my teens to my early 20's. Like seeing a redhead suddenly makes people lose all sense of propriety. The things people think they can ask redheads are absolutely ridiculous. I used to dream of being a brunette, just so I'd draw less attention. I've long since learned to be comfortable in my own skin (and hair), but wow, those teen years were tough. ;)

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  7. So I can consider myself a trendsetter:) Yes! Finally. I haven't met a moment's worth of insult or issue with my red locks. Old ladies swoon and men love it, so I think the boys get made fun of more. I am a red head and didn't want my son to have red hair because of all the ginger harrassment. My God daughter and bestie are red heads. It's rare and pretty and we are special because of it.

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