Old & Redheaded

I turned 41 on Sunday.

On Monday, I returned to the ENT doctor. It had been 2.5 weeks since my tonsillectomy and I still wasn’t better. Two weeks was supposed to be when I returned to “normal,” but I still couldn’t swallow without pain or eat real food.

He looked in my throat and said, “Well, that’s interesting,” and asked another doctor in for a second opinion.

The diagnosis? Because I am older, and a redhead, it is taking me longer to heal. That’s just great.

There is a scientific basis for the “redhead” dilemma. We take longer to heal, have more sensitive skin, are more sensitive to anesthesia, are quick-tempered (ok – maybe that one is just anecdotal).

Growing up, I hated being a redhead.

I lived in Southern California – not near the beach but it was still impossible to get away from the “ideal” look – Barbie/Marsha Brady with long straight blonde hair, tan skin, and no flab.

Not much there to make a freckly face, four-eyes, ghostly-pale, plump, wavy-haired redhead feel good about her looks.

My hair refused to feather like Farrah Fawcett’s. I was teased endlessly about my fair/non-visible red eyelashes and eyebrows. They called me Casper the Ghost in gym class when I was forced to wear shorts. Just your average miserable junior high experience that seemed to last forever.

It took a good 30 years to finally appreciate my looks. I always had boyfriends but assumed this was because of my awesome personality and love of sports.

A few things helped put being a redhead into perspective.

  1. Hearing the phrase “Boys don’t like redheads but men do.” How true that has turned out to be.
  2. Realizing that it is good to stand out in a crowd. I like telling someone to “look for the redhead” because I am usually the only one in the room.
  3. Even though I had awful sunburns in my youth, I’ve stayed out of the sun as an adult and my skin has rewarded me for it. I am 41 but often am mistaken for much younger!
  4. I met Dan and he makes me feel like the most beautiful woman in the world – not that my personality and love of sports don’t help!

Now that I have a redheaded daughter, I see her facing some of the same dilemmas I do.

Sometimes she wants her hair to be straight and blonde; she doesn’t like it when adults make a huge fuss out of her hair; she wants to be just like everyone else.

As a mother, it’s my job to teach Mia how to be a good person and a secure, strong woman. It’s difficult already (she’s only 5!) to answer her questions like why do I straighten my hair sometimes? Why do I wear mascara? Why do I wear contacts?

I don’t tell her that deep down, even though I am in my 40’s, I am still that insecure seventh grader – that we all are – and need this vain primping in order to face the world.

Instead, I tell her that it’s fun to play dress up and wear make up and when she’s older, if she wants to, she can too.

I tell her that she is beautiful just the way she is. And so am I.

2 thoughts on “Old & Redheaded

  1. I love your red hair and freckles. My ideal guy look was a shorter (5’6) redhead lightly freckled cowboy with green eyes.

    The one thing I am always jealous of is the green eyes of the redhead. Not just the green color but most of the reds I know have similar eyes in shape and soul. Think David Keith or Richard Gere.

    Tell that girl she is the envy of her great cousin Ria and many other people who secretly (or not so secret) pine away for the redheaded cowgirl.

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