The dove, struggles of a ginger, benefits of nontraditional weddings

Even though I have to pack up my apartment, call the electric company, and complete a laundry list of chores (that reminds me, I need to do laundry, too. Can’t I just pay someone to do all this crap for me?), I’m deeply pleased with myself this afternoon. During yesterday’s yoga session, I mastered the “dove” pose on both legs!

This isn’t me, but here’s what I did:

The dove position isn’t new to me, as I was able to do it on my first day at the Arlington yoga studio last August. Of course, I wouldn’t even make the attempt during that session, but the instructor approached me and said she was certain I could pull it off. I could do the dove with one leg but not the other, so I’m happy to have increased the strength on the left side of my body. I’ve been working at that for months, especially since my balance and center of gravity have been off since college. Growing up, I constantly sat up straight in my chair because my dad got on my case every time I slouched. The family hasn’t pushed me to have proper posture since high school, so I’m lopsided now. That can be fixed, though. I’m kicking the cross-legged habit, refusing to lean on one specific foot, and going out of my way to stand tall. I feel like these adjustments have aided my yoga practice, so I’ll be sure to maintain my healthy new routine.

Sadly, my regular yoga teacher was absent yesterday, so she couldn’t see my progress. Next time! I’m pretty sure the substitute played Kidz Bop, which was only mildly distracting. Due to heavy rainfall, only a few people showed up to yoga yesterday, giving the class a more intimate, relaxing vibe. I can feel myself improving considerably, but I still have to watch out for my gimp toe, which has never been the same since I drunkenly broke it in June.

This morning, I came across a brilliant Huffington Post article about the travails of redhead life by Katie Bindley, a friend of a friend. Time and time again, writers have addressed the adversities redheads face, but none have tackled the issue quite like Bindley, a ginger herself.

Similar to Bindley, I’ve been at war my hair for much of my life. It wasn’t until I turned 14 that I embraced having physical differences (pale skin, freckles everywhere, an orange mane), but my opinion was much different as a child. There was nothing I despised more than adults who told me to be grateful for my unique look and standing out in the crowd.

You try living this way,” I’d say in moments of weakness. My father, an Irish Catholic redhead, felt my pain and frequently asked family members to drop the subject in my presence.

But grown-ups simply didn’t get it. At the end of third grade, my teacher bought a novel for each of her students. She said she chose books that reminded her of us, so we were eager to see her selection. My classmate Mae received “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler,” my close friend Alyson got something from “The Baby-sitters Club” series, and an acquaintance named Tyler got that awesome Roald Dahl book, “The BFG.” What book would be mine? I hoped for “Matilda,” my favorite Roald Dahl tale of a little girl with special powers and rotten parents. Though I adored my family, I related to young Matilda’s love for reading and prayed my teacher would acknowledge that.

When the teacher finally arrived at my desk, she had a wide smile on her face and whipped out Judy Blume’s “Freckle Juice.” I’d been thrilled to see Judy Blume’s name on my new book, but discouraged at the cover image of a dopey, hideous ginger.

“Laura, I spent hours debating which book to give you, but this one seemed like a perfect match,” she said, beaming.

Because I didn’t want to be rude, I thanked Mrs. Hamilton for the gift. Meanwhile, the boys around me had toppled to the floor in hysterics. I was friends with these guys but could tell the joke was on me that day and there was no way around it. My teacher assumed she’d done something thoughtful, but in reality she opened a can of worms and thrust me into the center of schoolyard harassment. As soon as my dad and sister picked me up from school, I rambled all the way home about my mean, thoughtless teacher who had purposely shamed me in front of my peers. Though my dad knew where I was coming from, he didn’t file a complaint to the principal or rage against Mrs. Hamilton as I’d asked. He did nothing and my mother instructed me to man up. My older brothers laughed about the book and said it would build character. What do any of them know? I asked myself.

For the most part, red-haired folks have similar childhood experiences. Like me, Katie wasn’t all that enthused about receiving a redhead themed present as a kid:

“I’ve hated my hair for as long as I can recall. When my best friend gave me a red-headed doll named Freckles for my fifth birthday, I cried and fled my own party. (She claims I actually threw Freckles before making my dramatic exit. I may well have.) I responded similarly to a red-headed doll I got for Christmas a couple of years later (you know it’s bad when you think even Santa is making fun of you).”

It seems we went through the same thought process as young teens, as I too wanted to color my locks in junior high:

I first planned to dye my hair when I was 13. When my parents caught wind of the scheme, they threatened to ground me. I can’t remember the fight we had about it, but I imagine they argued that my hair was a unique and beautiful part of me that should be a source of pride. Easy for them to say: they, and my two older sisters, are brunettes.

It was frustrating and humiliating to be lectured by parents, relatives, and family friends who urged us to be thankful for our rare appearance. I’d kill for your coloring. When people said this to me, I often responded with, “Want to trade heads?”

Because of the hardships that come with being a carrot-top, my biggest wish is to never produce red-haired babies. I actually think there’s something psychological to my intense attraction to brunette men (I’ve never been with a blond, just brown-haired guys!). I want to marry someone with strong genetics to ensure that my future children will be spared the unnecessary problems of ginger existence.

Katie makes an inarguable point in the middle of her piece:

The problem gets worse when “Marie Claire” argues that faux reds — people who choose strawberry or auburn or crimson but suffer none of the pain of actually growing up with it — are still redheads, deserving of equal appreciation. I worry that many are now under this misapprehension.

A 2006 New York Press article by a bottled redhead detailed how spicy her sex life had gotten since she’d gone “fiery.” (For her, this confirmed the results of a study published earlier that year showing that redheads actually do have more sex.)

“I’m a redhead alright, I just wasn’t born that way,” the author wrote.

Um, sorry, but you’re not.

Those are the wise words of a natural ginger. I wholeheartedly believe the redhead cannot be made. As much as I worship Christina Hendricks, no one can just dye their hair on a whim and expect to take on the look. You need to earn it. Having put up with perverted genitalia questions, immature bullies, and obnoxious adults for our early lives, Katie, true carrot-tops of the world, and I have earned the right to call ourselves redheads. All the phonies should return to their actual roots or at least own up to being impostors.

That said, I have a confession of my own. I become really, really, really unhappy in fall and winter and highlight my hair to cope with SAD. If my hair looks lighter, I somehow feel a little better about the fact that I gave up sunny skies and sandy beaches for snow storms and incompetent plowmen. Here’s what my hair looks like before a trip to the salon:

Daily Wildcat co-workers, Jazmine and Steven
At Tucson's David Sedaris book signing last year
With my buddy Joey
With my roommate's dog, Ollie in 2009
Carolyn and me at P.F. Changs in 2009
Luke Money and me at the 2010 Daily Wildcat Awards Banquet

Take a look at me AFTER the stylist got involved:

Sundress in Italy!

Italy 2011
Roxy and me, April 2011

Should I stay light or go dark? I can’t decide.

This weekend, my mom’s boyfriend’s daughter got married on West Cliff in Santa Cruz. She wore purple shoes, walked down the aisle solo to Hawaiian music, and had a great nontraditional beach ceremony. I wish I could have attended, but love the pictures. I’ll have to emulate her wedding when I have my own someday! She was blessed with sunny weather, so hopefully the same will happen for me.

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