Sunday, March 9, 2014

Ginger Snap Judgment

As I previously described, I dyed my hair red last summer.

I just dyed in your arms tonight

As I’d never dyed my dome before, I wanted to give it a shot while on the precipice of my thirtieth birthday. It was definitely a mid-midlife crisis, without the crisis and with the self-reflective self-indulgence.

Anyway, I picked red because it seemed like it would look the least stupid on me and require the least upkeep, and because my maternal grandmother was a ginger and I thought of it as a secret homage to her. Mamaw was badass, my friends.

But, just like most aspects of our personal appearance, flaming locks are not just a Leo’s way to garner more glances, but a cultural signifier that that I found somewhat startling.

At a friend’s birthday party, a gaggle of ladies grabbed me and gasped, “Oh my gosh, you’re a ginger, too!” It took me a moment to remember that, oh, yeah, I guess I am. I looked around and, weirdly, realized I was surrounded by a handful of gals with dyed-red ‘dos.

I didn't know these people and I was only halfway through my snobby Belgian malted beverage, so I kind of slunk away. They were sweet peeps, I’m sure, but I just wasn't prepared to be a hair color club. What would they talk about? The historical impact of Margaret Sanger? Actually, come to think of it, that would be awesome.

My phony red chapeau made waves at a comic con in Covington, inviting unappealing dudes to sidle up and mumble about how much they like it. At a hipster hobnob in Over-the-Rhine, folks spoke of my fringe with fascination. I just got my ‘do did and, as I was leaving the salon, a gentleman yelled out his car window, “What’s up, redhead?” as he sped along.

Got a "Hey #redhead" holler leaving the salon so... Success?
Dye, dye, my darling

I hope this doesn’t sound like complaining, because as a certified attention-hog, I love the looks my locks lure in (with the noted exception of Comic Con Creep, of course). If I had known it was this easy to illicit praise from strangers, I would’ve dyed my mop years ago.

And I totally understand that, for some ladies, being a redhead is their “thing.” It is their claim to fame, their calling card and their most distinctive trait. Hat’s off, hotties. Hoot and/or holler.

But that is not how I define myself, and this unsolicited introduction into the Red Army has pushed me to reevaluate the ways in which we all see ourselves. Well played, mid-midlife crisis.

For me, a maroon mane means nothing. If I were describing myself in five adjectives, “redheaded” would not appear (though “mop-headed” could possibly make the list). My russet shag does not make me exotic or sassy or special. It just makes my eye color more noticeable than does my muddy natural hair color.

Because if I’m going to be defined by anything, it’s my blue eyes, dangit.

So, I’m going to continue with the crimson color because I definitely enjoy the way it suits my complexion and sates my attention-lust. But I will probably still wrestle with the whole idea of being a “redhead.”

Is that weird? Let’s discuss.

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