Archive for February 8th, 2008

By Robin

There’s a story about my birth that was told fairly often when I was growing up. It’s a short story, and involves hair.

When my mother was pregnant with me, my father was asked by a friend what his preference was: a boy or a girl? His answer was that he didn’t care if it was a boy or a girl as long as the child was healthy and didn’t have red hair.

I don’t know what he had against red hair. His father had red hair. Whether or not that had something to do with it, I don’t know. He would never say.

I made my appearance in December of 1958 with a blaze of bright red hair.

Sorry, Dad.

I have 40+ cousins on my father’s side of the family. I’m the only one who inherited my grandfather’s red hair. My oldest son also inherited it. We’re the stand-outs in a family of brunettes and blondes.

My father said my hair reminded him of the feathers on a robin’s breast, that bright orangey-red color, and so my parents named me Robin in an age when it was mostly a boy’s name. Perhaps they started a trend, one that’s caught on in recent years, of giving girls’ names that were usually associated with boys.

By the time I was in middle school, the red had started to fade. To make sure it was gone for good, I dyed my hair for the first time when I was in the 8th grade. I went blonde because, it was said, blondes have more fun. I think it was also in the 8th grade that I went from having long hair to a medium-length shag (which was the fashion at the time).

The red has never really come back, although there are signs of it in the streaks of color in my hair. My natural color now is a mixture of blonde, brown, red, gray, silver, and white. Like my cats, I’m a calico.

In the year 2000, I had 16 inches of my hair cut off. I think it took me a period of about two weeks’ time to do it. I had a couple of inches cut off at a time, then I’d go back to the stylist and have him cut some more until I got to the grand total of 16 inches.

There was something very liberating about getting rid of all that hair. I don’t know why I couldn’t do it all at once. I guess a big change like that takes a little time and getting used to.

My hair is relatively short now, unintentionally trendy. A friend recommended a cut called the stacked bob a couple of years ago, thinking it would look good on me. I went to see my stylist and, without having seen a picture of this cut, asked her to give me a stacked bob. It was obviously one of those days when I’d had enough of my hair and I didn’t care what she did to it as long as it was different.

I was delighted (and a little surprised, because this sort of spontaneous decision doesn’t always work out well) to find that I not only liked the style and cut, but so did my hair. I’ve been sporting the look ever since. Then Victoria Beckham came to the U.S. and made the style/cut popular. Mine is not as extreme as hers, but it’s basically the same style and cut. It’s everywhere now.

No matter. I like how it looks on me and will likely keep it in some version of a bob for many years to come. This cut finally did for me what no other color or cut or style ever did — it made me like my hair. It has bounce, it has body, and it’s easy peasy. A quick blow-dry and go.

That’s what I like best about it: no fuss. I’ve never been the kind of girl or woman who fusses with her hair.

Someday I’m going to try out some purple streaks in my hair. Just for the fun of it. Because I’m old enough now to appreciate having fun with my hair.

As long as it doesn’t require too much fuss.

Redhead, photo taken by Robin, February 1977, photo © 2008 by Robin, all rights reserved.

Redhead, Robin’s son when he was young, photo taken in
February 1977, photo © 2008 by Robin. All rights reserved.

Robin is a photographer and writer living in an area she calls The Bogs, also known as the snow belt of northeastern Ohio. (Note: she is a self-described “amateur photographer,” but once you see her work on her blog, Bountiful Healing, you’ll undoubtedly agree with our editing out the word “amateur.”)

Robin used to write but has spent the past two years focusing on photography. Recently, she is once again taking up pen and paper (or keyboard and monitor, as the case may be) for daily writing practice, inspired, she tells us, by the writing practices at red Ravine.

She wrote this essay as a writing practice, unpolished except for correcting typos (which she does automatically as she types), based on the post WRITING TOPIC – HAIR.

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