I’m being interviewed in an “air-conditioned room”, sans a properly-functioning air conditioner. I’m wearing a blazer with a button-up, long-sleeved shirt underneath, long pants, and my hair is down. Because I’m a professional and I’m professionally dressed for my interview. Six people sit before me and proceed to interrogate (interview) me over the course of an hour. The interview ends and I go away.
I don’t get the job.
But, I do get some really excellent feedback regarding my interview: feedback and a bit of coaching designed to help me grow professionally so that, next time ’round, I can “go get ’em!”
My favorite bit of feedback?
“I did love how you blushed in your interview, though. It’s such an endearing, feminine trait.”
All. My strength. Not. To. Scream.
Because I wasn’t blushing. I was flushing.
It was hot in that room, I had a lot of proper interview clothes on, my heavy hair was down around my neck and the top of my shoulders. And I was sitting in front of a panel of six of my superiors, being asked some high-level questions.
I wasn’t blushing.
I’m a redhead. I don’t have a whole lot of pigment; the little pigment that I do have gestated immediately to my red hair and to my freckles. There is nothing left in the reserve. When I get warm, am put on the spot, get flustered, spend even a fraction of a moment in the sun or in the heat, I turn one shade of pink or another. There is nothing ‘endearing’ or ‘feminine’ about the pink hue of my skin. It’s just a pigment thing.
Dear, Misogynistic Member of My Interview Panel:
I wasn’t blushing. It was hot in that room. Stressful for me, too. That said, had I been blushing, it would have been neither a singularly (a) ‘feminine’ nor an (2) ‘endearing’ attribute.
I’m not a coquette and this isn’t Downton Abbey.
But thanks so much for your super solid and uber-professional feedback, Dick.
Xs & Os,
Here are some words that have been used to describe us:
Recently, I saw a FB post with a picture of a lovely, freckled, red-headed young woman and a caption that read something like,
“People say that Gingers don’t have souls. I have a freckle for every soul that I steal.”
Which is super funny.
Most people think that I’m Irish. Which is not entirely untrue. But I’m more Scottish than Irish, I think. So, Scotch-Irish. Celtic, any way that you look at it.
My mom’s mom had red hair. My mom’s sister has red hair. My mom is more Scottish than Irish but she’s not a redhead. My maternal side is mostly Scottish. My dad’s maternal grandfather, though, was first generation Irish-American. A cop in New York City. His hair is white in all of the pictures that I’ve ever seen of him. People nicknamed him ‘Mickey’ because it was okay to be bigoted at the turn of the 20th century. But there was no red hair in Mickey’s progeny, far as I know. Maybe in his heritage in the times before Ellis Island, I don’t know. In any event, I ended up the only Scotch-Irish lass with red hair in our family.
“No, no, noohhsh,” he slurred. “There are plenty of attractshtive redheads! Lindshhay Lohan!”
I heard this walking in through the door of a bar in Tacoma a few months ago. In the middle of the day.
Sure, it was Tacoma. And it was the middle of the day.
I flipped down the visor with the engine still running and perched up a bit in the driver’s seat of my car, put some gloss onto my lips, pulled my hair back up into a messy bun, and noticed all of the silver running along past my temples and toward the crown of my head, where my bun sat.
Straight from red to silver, bypassing the gray. White came next, I guessed. Thanks, Mickey.
The truth is that I started losing my red in grad school, back in the early 2000s. And it was just about then that I started actually loving my hair, doing what I had to do to keep it true to me. As much as it could be
I had been a manufactured blonde for awhile, right about until I moved to Boston in 2000. Black hair before that. Erasing the red.
I’m riding the bus home in Eighth Grade and some of the boys start chanting, “I’d rather be dead than red on the head!” over and over and over. I look down at the open book on my lap, start doing some Algebra, and try to not hear them. The bus gets to my stop, I walk down the aisle, tucking my book into my backpack with “I’d rather be dead than red on the head!” happening all around me, step off the bus and out of the doors, move in the direction of my home, and hear “Yeah, yeah, yeah, You!” coming out of the bus windows toward me as I walk away.
Ericka asks me to pretend like I’m a model and walk down the sidewalk toward her. I’m in Third Grade and I go to Erika’s house after school every day. I love her family and they are always so kind to me: there are grandparents, parents, and kids in that house. And so I walk down toward her. “You look like an alien with that red hair and those freckles,” she says. “You lose!”
I’m 23 and hanging out somewhere on Sunset Boulevard, taking a break in between bands. “I’ve always wanted to fuck a redhead,” he says. “You all are so feisty!” He looks toward his BMW Roadster. I follow his eyes. “Yeah. On the hood,” he says. I flick a cigarette in his general direction and walk back toward the band.
I’m 37 years old and I’m having lunch in a bar just Southeast of Seattle with The Guy. It’s our first date. My hair is just about as real-red as I can get it, with all of that silver-white covered up, and it’s waved down past my shoulders. He asks me if I’ve ever been hiking. “Yeah … uh. Yeah,” I say. “I’ve been hiking once,” I say. “I’m a city girl.” I laugh, look down toward my feet, he smiles and begins to laugh next to me, and I blush for real. A real, full body blush. He laughs, looks me in the eyes, and puts his hand on the small of my back as we laugh together. And this is pretty much the only time in my life where I blush for real and where the blush is both feminine and endearing. Because this is me caught in an uncontrollable moment where I am a woman falling in love with a man, blushing.
The truth is that we redheads are not hot-tempered or feisty or dramatic or overly passionate. We have neither carrots in our tops nor fires in our crotches.
We are a bit tired, though. And have lost much of our patience in some ways. We might be quick to react every now and then but all of this has to do, really, with one simple thing:
We’re tired of your weird shit and have lost all tolerance for those strange games, strange chants, and otherwise general mean-ness that you have spent much of our formative years directing toward us.
Once, on a date, some guy challenged my redheaded-ness and, I, just to prove a point, (shamefully) broke out this picture of me that my mom had added to her Facebook profile
You would think that, by now, I would have enough common sense to not have to feel like I have to prove any damn thing to any damn body. But, sometimes, I do.