A world without hair stylists, manicurists, or beauty makeovers
As I did some research for this piece, I rediscovered that only 1–2% of the population are natural redheads. It seems red hair began 100,000 years ago (who would have thought?) and even though genetically ancient, it is still rare, requiring two recessive gene holders to produce a child with red hair. My parents were both recessive gene holding red heads and both me and my sister are adorned with red locks. Even though our grandmother loved our red hair and cringed from the teasing I received as a child for my fair freckled skin and hair color. My adult experience has been more positive. I love my recessive inspired locks.
My 15-year-old battle cry against aging has been “I’m gonna be red ’til I’m dead!”
What I considered a humorous mantra now feels superficial. In fact, in the face of COVID-19 a lot of things I used to think were important have become less so. Especially my desire and/or need to look a certain way.
Over the years I raised four beautiful children, worked full time for most of those years, managed our home and the emotional ups and downs of my little community I followed the beauty trail like a loyalist. I gained and lost weight, permed, cut, curled, and straightened my hair, had acrylic fingernails on and off over the years, rarely left my house without makeup on. With each turning page, I felt I needed all these things to have value and worth. I dreaded my husband’s yearly arrival of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition, knowing that no matter how hard I worked in the gym or how loyal I was to my beauty regimen, I was not them. Had never been, not even as a teen.
I know many who have suffered the vagaries of not fitting in to images projected on them by society and the fashion industry. It was painful for me, as it has been and continues to be for maturing girls and women even today.
The good news is that years have brought peace and personal acceptance, even confidence, to me. This growing confidence has, at times, left me wishing for a re-do of sorts. One of my long-running fantasies has been of having a conversation with my younger self. It includes a time machine and a trip back to my eight-year-old self so I could share our experiences and hopefully enlighten her. Once done, I would (as quickly as possible) race back to that time machine and hightail it back to my present life.
Of course, if I had any success at educating her, my “back to the future” would not look the same as my life does now. I might not have my children or my grandchildren. I may never have met my husband. Like in the movie my life would be wholly unknowable to me; my parents might have stayed together, maybe I’d have a cool truck too, just like the one Marty McFly had in the movie but instead I would probably have become a grade schoolteacher like most of my friends.
We all have the life we are meant to have and for all its aches and pains, I love my life for the wisdom I’ve gained. Since I am unable to share what I’ve discovered with my eight-year-old self, I’ll share it here.
My Poetic Tribute to Women
A woman’s worth and value:
-does not depend upon the shape of her body but depends wholly on her mental, emotional, spiritual and physical well-being.
-does not depend upon how attractive or desirable she is, but on how much she respects herself.
-does not depend upon being a “yes” person but rests more on her ability to say “no,” “stop,” or to walk away when her values or life is compromised or threatened.
-does not depend upon relinquishing goals for another but in her ability to trust and pursue her natural gifts so she can share them and maybe even make the world better for her efforts.
-does not depend upon a degree from a college or university, but on how willing she is to be a life-long learner.
-does not depend on her fitting in, being liked or loved, but instead her ability to recognize that any friend or lover worth having is one who accepts her differences and respects the difference she makes.
A woman’s worth and value is most importantly found in her acceptance and willingness to be authentically herself in the face of what other’s think or believe she should or ought to be.
I do not wish to minimize the hardship of our shared COVID-19 experience. It is at times deeply sad, often fearful, and heart-breakingly grief stricken. But for some, sheltering and shifting lifestyle can also provide the opportunity to let go of things that don’t matter.
I never intended until now to let go of my red hair, my unique outer signature. My sometimes-fragile self-image over the years leaned on my red hair for worth, uniqueness and even at times confidence. I never did get eyelashes but now, absent my hair stylist and my manicurist, I am spending time with myself and I kind of like her just as she is. Each morning I awaken to a different version than before. My growing hair tells me so.
I know many of my female friends struggle with their worth on some level at different times. No amount of praise heals the sting of criticism, the comparison to others, or the fear of failing someone or something on some microscopic unimportant level. We feel ignored for all our efforts at times and wonder why we even try at all. In the words of Oprah, what I know for sure is that others won’t value or recognize our worth until we do. For those who struggle with that, I would say to you what I would say to my younger self: that to the core of your soul what you give to life is about who you are and not what you do because others do not know who we are. They cannot know any more than we can know what is right for someone else. The world at large and all who lead it simply want to tell us who we are, fool us into thinking we need to be their version of who they think we should be. We don’t need to do that, have never needed to do it.
It is scary to be authentically one’s Self, but it is the only path to embracing and owning your own personal value. No one truly finds value in a paycheck, or certainly never in the breathlessly awaited praise from another. We long for satisfaction, peace, and a feel of success for sharing our gifts; we long to once again be surprised by the mystery of it all. None of these things can be experienced if we think we need to look a certain way or feel pressured to have certain things. Value, by definition, is what comes from the inner fabric of our own uniqueness.
I still enjoy and find satisfaction when I put on my makeup or style my hair. It is nice to escape my leggings and get dressed up for a change! But since COVID-19 I find I am less pressured to worry about “being accepted or perfect.” I am less inclined to bother with the effort, time, and cost of maintaining what was once the natural and effortless color of my hair. The gray coming in is a beautiful mixture of white and silver. I may just have to try it on for size. Don’t hold me to it though; I do reserve the right to change my mind. After all it’s my prerogative. Regardless of where I land on this issue, in the deepest part of my soul I’ll always be a redhead, with all its perceived attributes: fiery, determined, fair skinned and freckled.
Candace George Conradi is an author, a practioner of Human Design, and a Certified Living Your Design Guide. Using Human Design principles, sessions provide effective and simple tools for each person to become their own authority and relieve the pressure or need to fit in. Her six-week Living Your Design interactive online tutorial offers an intimate deep dive for individuals who would like to experience less pressure in their decision making process. For more information visit her website at www.lydlifemap.com or email her at email@example.com.