Tuesday, March 01, 2005

I wrote this in college, for me and my redheaded girlfriends.

Where does it happen? Is it a line? It does not feel like a process. Suddenly the ugly girl, constantly picked on “Pippi Longstocking” is watched with hungry eyes, she has become an object of eroticism and danger overnight. She feels the eyes on her as she crosses the room. amidst a sea of tans, she is cooly white, freckled, a contradiction. They stare at her hair, as if the color of her hair dictates her personality. But in a way, it does. The child who once wished for black locks now asserts her fiery power. She is aware that she can get away with being brazen, being unladylike, all because of this power granted to her by genetics.

They watch. They look at her, starting with her head and moving downward, observing the porcelain skin, (skin once pitied as pale, seen as unhealthy) the pride with which she walks. The men look at each other and smile “Redheads....”

That is expected to explain it all.

We reel from it, confounded as hell. Perhaps there is a shallow victory in it, but above all, we are confused. We are burned as witches and vilified in the Bible (Judas, Herod, Delilah). Then we are seen as victories from the men we have been with.

She remembers those boys whose laps she has sat in, and eyes she has stared into, who will always remember her for being “the redhead”. When they tell embellished stories about her, that is the detail they will start with that will make those who do not know it jealous.

How utterly confusing. How can one be expected to see a childhood curse as a badge of privilege overnight? A magic wand has been waved, and Anne Shirley is suddenly perceived as Jessica Rabbitt. Is it better to assert your individuality and scream “It is only a color, I am more than this?” or to realize that it has influenced who you are from birth and flaunt it. Take an intense pride in it?

Before she goes to bed, she brushes this hair. She catches her reflection in the mirror. Her breath stops and she sees what has caused it to be an object of scorn in the past and desire in the present. It’s coppery fire is breathtaking.

It is beautiful.


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