Deep, deep down, underneath my dark brown curls and exposed black roots, I was born to be a redhead. At least, that’s what I tell myself every time I see a gorgeous crop of scarlet, strawberry, or carrot-colored hair. Redheads, as you can infer, make me green with envy.
It all started when I saw Who Framed Roger Rabbit for the first time on TV. Instantly, my tween-aged self fell head over heels for Veronica Rabbit’s flaming waves. She was only a cartoon, which made it seem a bit funny to consider her a muse. But it was the ‘90s: the heyday of Renee Russo, Geena Davis, and Geri Halliwell; the time when Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman, and Debra Messing really came into the limelight. Everywhere I turned, there were beautiful, confident women with this incredible fiery hair—and it looked so good on them that I couldn’t help but want it for myself, and want it badly.
Still, I was never one to experiment with my locks (save an ill-advised, much-lamented pixie cut in sixth grade). The first time I ever dyed my hair, I was 23—so behind the curve, if you think of how teenagers nowadays are tinting their tresses to look like pop stars. In any case, on my first try, I went one measly shade lighter than my natural color. Afterward, my hair looked exactly the same. So on my 24th birthday, I decided to try again—two shades lighter this time, with caramel highlights. Not exactly wild and crazy.
As a kid, I thought I would dye my hair like Tori Amos the first chance I got when I grew up. But I’m a big girl now—and, oh, how things have changed. My obsession with red hair is stronger than ever—to this day, I still don’t understand why Anne of Green Gables hated hers. But I know I will probably never “go ginge,” like I thought I would—simply because I know what suits me.
Red hair is so tricky, I feel it is best left to the lucky ones who are born with it—or to the daredevils, who pull off anything with aplomb. Select the wrong shade, and it may appear tacky—but find the one that’s made for you, and you’ll look like a beauty in a Botticelli painting. There’s a fine line between one and the other, and only you can determine whether or not you can tread it. Props to you if you succeed! To quote Augusten Burroughs, “Red hair is rare, and therefore superior.”
But don’t throw me a pity party just yet. Knowing in my heart of hearts that I will never be a redhead hasn’t put a damper on my daydreams. There’s a new generation of gingers now, and I am absolutely smitten with them. Sidebar: Is it just me, or do redheads seem to channel holiday spirit? (It must be the hair.)
Take a look at my five mane muses, ranked in ascending order of can’t-get-enough-ness. Who’s your favorite?
(In-article photos: Deborah Ann Woll in True Blood, photo courtesy of HBO; Jessica Chastain in Lawless, photo courtesy of The Weinstein Company; Christina Hendricks in Body of Proof, photo courtesy of ABC; Emma Stone for Revlon; Bryce Dallas Howard in Hereafter, photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)