While reading Across the Universe, much is made of the heroine Amy’s hair. Fitting, since it’s the beauty and “vivacity of these burnished strands” that set in motion Elder’s search for truth. Was it the novelty of hair that looked “as if someone has poured yellow, orange and red ink into a glass of water” in the midst of a brown landscape of monoethnicity that sparked Elder’s interest, or would those same locks have inspired an identical response in someone who had seen Titian locks before? Being part of the 4% of the population that can claim natural red hair, it made me ponder the portrayal of other redheads in literature and to see if they match my insider’s perceptions.
First up, Anne Shirley from the Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery. I love, love, love Anne Shirley. She’s spunky and fiery in a way that most women, especially girls, were not in that time period. Anne had passion and wit and got into amazing adventures and mishaps, some in direct relation to her hair. She had to endure being tormented as a child for her carroty hair and held a grudge for the insults but grew up to accept, if not wholeheartedly embrace, her mane. I think every redhead has heard “Carrot Top”, “Ginger”, “Red” and the like. My sisters took it even farther and said I looked like an orangutan, among other things. I think it’s this incessant teasing that helps form the spunk and sass redheads are known for, so I guess the teasing was a good thing, because I seriously enjoy spunk and sass.
Next up, Pippi Longstocking. Every redheaded girl has been called Pippi in her lifetime. While the movie version is one of the most inane and unwatchable pieces of screen rubbish I’ve ever seen, the character is timeless. Written by Sweden’s Astrid Lindgren, Pippi is her own person…outrageous and a little bit of a superhero. Pippi’s implusive, adventurous and imaginative and definitely not boring. That’s a recurring theme among redheads—personality. I loved this quote from the web:
All throughout history, from Reuben to Robbins, redheads have been recognized as a rare breed. Blondes may have more fun, brunettes may be brainier, but when it comes down to raw energy, creativity, and personality … you just can’t beat a redhead. Well, you can, but beware … she’ll probably beat you back!
My conclusion, from both reading and personal experience, reaffirms my opinion that redheads are not for everyone. In fact, I rarely like other redheads (fellow Book Babe, Sara, notwithstanding). It may have something to do with the dynamic of two people that are used to being one-of-a-kind suddenly being not so unique or it could be that I’m just a big jerk. Either way, I’ll blame it on my hair. We redheads can get away with stuff like that.