Sunday, February 21, 2010


(there will be no pics with this post of little ole' me for two reasons....I no longer have a scanner and pics of me as a child would break it if I did...*sigh*)

As anyone that happens to know me in real life knows and for those that have bothered to glance at the pic on the right there, and still for those that have wondered about the "red" in's maybe no surprise that I'm a natural born redhead. From the moment I exited mothers womb I've had varying degrees of flaming red hair that has been, at times, the bane of my existence. All my life I have been made to feel at some point or another that the mere fact that HAVE red hair was somehow my fault. As a child I was ridiculed without end by other children and adults alike. Something that was said to me yesterday in the store by a customer brought back some memories and inspired this post.

And so...the story of Red.

As mentioned, I had a flaming crop of red hair from the moment of birth, all though at that time it looked more like red fuzz...mix that in with my ocean blue eyes (at the time...have gone more grey blue now) along with some whiter than cotton white skin and you've got the makings of a child that stuck out like a sore thumb because everyone else in her family had brown hair, brown eyes, olive toned skin and looked like they were related to each other. Over the years I have lost count of how many times people have asked me.."where did you get that red hair?"...hmmm? the same place you got your brown, blond, black hair I'm guessing...the gene fairy? Or maybe I was one of those special babies that got to preorder what I would look like once that case I would have left out the fat gene all together. *sigh*

At any rate, Mom tells me when I was actually still a baby she was forced to defend her fidelity to friend a stranger alike again and again as people would take one look at me, at my siblings lined up looking rather Native American mixed with some other darker skinned toned people, and then see me shining so bright I practically glowed in the dark. More than one set of eyebrows were raised...and that continues to this day. In the beginning it was all joke joke snicker cheated with the mailman didn't you? but eventually it gets tiring being made to feel as if your an outsider and don't belong to your family. On the other hand, there have been times when I secretly prayed I WAS adopted, or better yet STOLEN, and didn't in fact share genes with this family of mine that continues to this day to make me want to commit either murder or suicide depending on my current levels of stress and their desire for drama.

Now, as I mentioned, I was tormented as a child for having red hair. I was called too many names to remember (all though I can remember them all probably if pressed..somethings are never forgotten, just lurk in the background of your mind until something comes along to jog it to the fore did customer in store). My red hair has a curious affect on people that I've never quite understood. I've had complete strangers reach out and feel it, something that happened in the Bahrain A LOT right from the start of my life there, mix that in with not knowing what they were saying and just being culture shocked anyhow...see where I'm going with this? Very disturbing. Akin to what a pregnant woman feels like when strangers (and not) just reach out and feel her if her body no longer belongs to her and is public property to be felt up at will. Very very annoying.

The creative names that children and adults alike have come up with to label me with can range from hilarious (to them) to just down right mean (to me) and, while Red may seem rather redundant, it is the one that most people will call me when they don't know my real name. I'm cool with that...hence Coolred. So now you know about THAT. LOL.

At any rate, my red hair has gone in and out of fashion over the years. I've never been to hair proud...I'm pretty much a wash and wear kind of the hair has never really changed but I would assume peoples attitude towards it has. Depending on current fashion trends, of which I know zilch about, my red hair can either inspire or cause finger pointing and giggles. *sigh* For the most part I can ignore and get on with it, I'm grown now and no longer allow people to intrude on my peace of mine with their hurtful remarks concerning my hair. (doesn't quite work with other body parts but I'm passed the hair stuff). However, as a child I spent far too much time lamenting the fact that I was CURSED with red hair. And yes...that is how I was made to feel...cursed by God in some way for having something few others had. It was almost like a disability or affliction that people cause people to tut tut over and pretend they didn't notice so as not to hurt your feelings...or just straight out say something completely asinine not realizing that inside I was screaming in rage at God for making me different. *sigh* Sometimes I wonder if my sketchy relationship with God that has waxed and waned over the years, got its initial shove because of my red hair and the effects it has had on my life and psyche? Anyone care to comment on that?

So the way it worked out over the years was...when small, other kids would make fun of me, adults would question my paternity or alternatively gush over me in a profuse fashion as if I was disabled...then when a teen, boys would make snarky comments concerning my red hair (all though more than once I would catch them gazing at and girls would gush over how they wished that had that color...but could never dye it just right LOL...and as an adult I would be asked a million times whether this was my REAL hair color, if not, who the heck made this wonderful shade of red cause they were buying it and dying their hair soon as they got home...blah blah blah. Then they go on the way...and I'm still here...with my red hair...just busy getting on with it. *sigh*

Now, back to the customer that inspired this story. An older man came in for a few things and while most of our customers are regulars, we get a few that are merely driving through. You can pick them out easily by the weary way they slouch to the coffee machine or make a beeline for the bathrooms. Rumpled clothes and equally rumpled faces and hair and a certain look of "I'm tired and have no idea what town I'm in" look about them. This older man was quite talkative once he seen me sweeping the floor and struck up a conversation that was quite the eye opener...or should I say gave a previously unknown insight into the power of my red hair...or any red hair I would assume.

This mans name was Charlie and Charlie commented on how beautiful my hair was and right away claimed he "just knew" it was natural and not some poor attempt at true natural red hair. LOL Then Charlie went on to astound me with his declaration of absolute adoration of all things red....when it comes to hair. He said as a young boy he use to chase the girls with red hair and make fun of them simply because he was overwhelmed by their red hair and didn't know what to make of it. He said, every other girl had blond or brown or black hair and it was all so humdrum but red hair shone like the sun, made his eyes hurt to look at it almost and made his hands want to reach out and touch it for some reason. He said as a boy he was , of course, stupid and didn't know one emotion over another, and so assumed that desire to reach out and touch it meant give it a good yank and make her cry. He claimed that he was awestruck and overwhelmed by red hair and just didn't know what to make of it....just knew it caused a reaction in him. Eventually he sorted out his feelings and married a girl with red hair and lived happy ever after...well not quite...apparently she had a wicked temper and eventually it was either kill her or get divorced. He opted wisely for divorce...but that hasn't put him off redheads apparently as he went on to describe his many girlfriends etc that all somehow had varying shades of red hair.

At this point I'm starting to wonder if this was some sort of elaborate pick up line even though he was quite a bit older than me by the look of it, but then he shook himself back to the present and looked at me and said....

"Don't ever let anyone give you shit about your hair. It just means their jealous and probably means they want to touch it."....then he paid for his coffee and left.

I'm 41 years old and by God if that isn't one of the best explanations for the effect red hair seems to have on people I have ever heard. Not sure if it's true or not...but apparently its true for Charlie...and that's good enough for me.

Red hair might not be so bad after all. LOL


Tracey's Life said...

Both of my sisters have red hair which they got from my Dad. Yes they were teased when they were children, but now as Adults they are smart enough to know that no one is ever going to replicate that gorgeous color in a bottle. Enjoy your Red Hair - you are beautiful!

Chiara said...

It is sounding true to me! Charlie seems to have explained a lot of y chromosome behaviour, especially when young. Overwhelmed and blundering but sincere and good-hearted.

My sister when about 7 said she knew a boy in her class liked her. We asked her how she knew, and she said "Because he dropped tacks on my shoe". It has become a classic family story and she was right.

Of course by high school they just body check you in to the lockers, and you just know. Well some just knew, and then there were those of us so dense we drove boys that age and much older to despair of ever having their true feelings understood.

In the "don't fit with the family crowd", my BIL was so blond as a child in his Arab family that my MIL was stopped by American MPs and questioned thinking he was stolen off the base.

Angel Darling said...

You are certainly right when you say other people try to mimic natural red hair... my mother being one of them. Good job Charlie!

Now, Coolred, OWN the power of your hair color... let it be your strength!

We're all going gray any in the end! ;0) ha!

oby said...

Love that story...I agree with Charlie. I fond red hair lovely. Especially a beautiful deep copper color flecked with gold or auburn. Keep your beautiful red suits you so well.

Anonymous said...

OMG hilarious! (the Charlie part).

I think red hair is awesome, it's unique. My youngest daughter has really light skin and light hair - while her older sister looks like her dad (dark hair, darker skin) - so I've even had the midwife ask if they have the same father because they look so different. *sigh*

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Haha, great story! Your hair colour is fabulous by the way!

Wrestling With Religion said...

I had no idea red hair was so stigmatised! Maybe because I'm from Scotland, where it's a bit more "normal". haha!
I think it's great, am thinking of going a shade of red myself.

Julie said...

I am a forty year old redhead, originally from Northern Ireland, currently living in Orlando. My hair is almost to my waist and everywhery I go people love it! When I lived in Cairo in my early twenties it made me a minor rock star! That has more than made up for all the nasty comments I also suffered as a child. Embrace your hair!

coolred38 said...

Tracey...still not sure where I get my red hair from...none in our family for a few generations. LOL. Thank you.

Chira...that Y chrome causes such drama for something so small.

Angel...I hear us Reds dont go grey...we turn white. Nah Nah Nah!!! Lol

Oby...thank you and it changes colors depending on sunlight and my mood...sort of like a mood ring I guess..ha ha.

Aynur...hate it when people question you like that...even when they laugh u know inside their thinking...hmmm?

Cairo...thank Ive been told. lol

WWR...where I grew up(wyoming) and then spent most of my life (bahrain) red hair was the just seemed to make people react to it. not sure why....lot more redheads these days...maybe its our time to take over the world?

Julie...the rock star bit I can understand as that was what I was at times in Bahrain. Something that different and noticeable certainly caused heads to turn. Rock on!!

sabiwabi said...

I could go on and on and on about red hair! my two oldest girls have it and it does cause a reaction in people for sure. my 11 year old daughter is thoroughly sick of the attention, won't be long before she is dying her hair purple, I am sure.

anyways, red heads are a very special type of people...I can attest to that having lived with them. I think there's a good reason why God makes so few of them! The world couldn't handle it! LOL!

Suroor said...

This post reminded me of Anne of Green Gables :)

You are my Anne ;) And are loved like that.

Jessica said...

Oh Lee Ann, your hair is very nice and I dyed my hair red for years. People used to call me Big Red, and thats when I was tiny. I have had every single shade from the trying to look natural like yours to dark burgundy, loved it all, but after 15 yrs of marriage I finally gave in to hubbies desire for a blondy, covers the greys great.
I have naturally for dark hair and can barely remember the real color, been coloring it FOR 20 years.


Susanne said...

Red hair is great! I agree with Charlie that people are/were just jealous. You see how many nowadays are going red, right? Great story!

P.S. I have several red heads on my dad's side of the family. Does your family have some Scottish or Irish ancestry perhaps? :)

caraboska said...

Coolred, I live in a place where it is fashionable to dye your hair red. Red is the color everyone wishes they had - but for the most part don't... My hair isn't quite that red, but enough so that people do from time to time ask whether that's it's real color...

Susie of Arabia said...

Red hair has ALWAYS been my favorite - wear it proudly!!!

Maha Noor Elahi said...

I am amazed at your frankness! You talked about things people usually avoid discussing...I really applaud you for that.
For me red hair isn't very strange. One of my mother's close friends had natural red hair..all her sisters had the same color, too. However, they were never happy about it although in Saudi Arabia, being very light-skinned with colored hair is preferred. My mother's friend would always dye her her hair brown, but eventually she got her original hair color back, and she looks prettier than ever.
I hate it when people judge others by their looks, especially if that appearance is something out of thier conrol like the color of their hair or skin.
But again, I beleive that the most nation that has prejudice against red hair is America. Years ago I read a study on the stereotypes that Holloywood has made about people with red hair. Red-haired people , according to the study, are always depicted as evil, geeks, devilish, or extraordinary in an unpleasant way. Why on Earth do they do this? I have no idea!
I think everyone should be proud of their hair and skin and the way Allah has created them...
I am quite light-skinned with very dark black hair. I never wanted to be blond, but about 8 years ago, I wanted to make some changes in my looks...I dyed my hair into a mix of golden hazel..I stayed in the salon for 6 hours! My black hair was resisting so strongly :)
Hazel golden suited me, but after 6 months, everybody started to miss my black hair..I started to miss my old self..and so I remain till the day "snow white" ;) That's one of my knick names...
Just be proud of yourself and be happy with your red is a lovely color...
and I am glad that you finally got the explanation of why people were treating you the way they did...sometimes it is easier for others to make fun of things they can never have :)
Great post!

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