Blonde? I hate it.  I've hated it since I was about 20 years old.

Not that there's anything wrong with blondes. It's just not me. Last time I was blonde it was for a Halloween costume.  Before that, it was when my mother decided to bleach my hair because she hated my natural color.  I was just a teen then, and the psychological damage was extensive.  For one, it made my freckles 'pop' which, in my world, was anything but a good thing.  I was very self-conscious of my freckles.  They made me feel awkward, and I'd grown up for years with kids pretending to play "Connect the Dots" with the ones on my nose and arms.  I'd been just about every realistic hair color since hitting puberty, but blonde was, by far, my least favorite. 

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When I first got my job as a flight attendant, my hair was still too short to put in a pony tail, but as I continued to work and it continued to grow, eventually it was too long for me to leave down during a drink service.  Eventually I started having to keep the glorious red in a pony tail, which I was none too happy about.  I wanted to add some dimension and depth to my hair so it would still be pretty in a pony.  I opted for highlights, and when my hair was down I always got a ton of compliments on my lovely red hair.  When it was up, the highlights caused it to look a little less red, but more multidimensional.

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One day I was having a random conversation with my flight crew.  The guys were discussing random mechanical delays.  We'd had several on that poor airplane, and our days had been stretched long while our nights stretched thin.  Sleep was stretched to near nothing.  We were all exhausted.  Another warning came up on their console just before we began to taxi and we had to stop the aircraft yet again.

"What is it with the two of you," the Captain accused of the First Officer and myself.  "Are you cursed or something?"

"It's not me," I protested with passion. "Redheads are touched with luck!"  I was quoting something that others had told me was a frequent saying on a TV show I'd never seen.  I liked it, so I adopted it as my own. 

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"Redhead?" The First Officer looked perplexed.  He stared at me, long and hard, shielding his eyes from the sun.  "How in the world are you a redhead?"

"Well,  I was actually born that way," I fibbed.  I was actually born with black spikes of hair all over my head and my mother said I resembled a baby chimpanzee.  But when all the black hair fell out, it grew in strawberry blonde and got darker with age.  I was quite proud of my red hair.  He stared harder at me, completely perplexed.  Finally, he tugged at my sleeve to make me lean a bit lower so he could more closely inspect my tresses. 

"Oh," he pondered aloud.  "You have these highlights.  I thought you were a blonde."

I'd always heard it said that men weren't very observant, but I had to hand it to him - he was the first person to accuse me of being a blonde since I had actually BEEN a blonde.  I was shocked, and I made a very determined decision right in that moment. 

I'm never getting highlights again.

Amanda Blackwood is the founder of Redheads Unite! and author of Detailed Pieces of a Shattered Dream:The true story of one kidnap victim's run for her life.  The book is now available in paperback and Kindle. She may be reached at Follow Redheads Unite at Follow Amanda Blackwood on Facebook.

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