30 January 2007


The news that true red heads may become extinct by the end of this century is pretty old, but selective breeding may cure the problem. It's just a matter of compounding the recessives.

Being of mostly Celtic extraction, I've been highly amused at how popular bottle red has become in the past decade. It seems every woman I know under 40 has gone auburn, strawberry, or copper at some point. In my family, it's been a while since we produced a true carrot top, although most of us come by our highlights naturally, the stereotypical white skin prevails, and freckles can be found all over the family tree on both sides.

What I find most interesting about the phenomenon is how, well before science pinpointed and published the (lack-of) genetic trend, popular culture seemed to sense it--going red was (and still is) the haircolor version of getting couture swag. Much like bustles and corsets were popularized to make skinny girls look Mae West voluptuous around the turn of the last century, and the heroin-waif look is popular today precisely because we have, as a nation, finally grown into the Mae West figure. These trends in looks point up what is rare, instead of what is normal, as being more desirable. No wonder we're called a culture of death--we always idolize what few can reasonably achieve, whatever end of the pendulum it is.

It's simply too bad we can't harness all that obsession into idolizing a new model of society and community. It seems wasted on looks. Can you imagine the world if we truly valued rarity instead of imitating it? Here are some fashion-forward soundbytes I'd like to hear on the street:

"Buying clothes made from organically grown fibers is all the rage because, dang, are they expensive and hard to get!!"

"Scrap the Nikes--Eccos are sooo much hotter!"

"I'll be gingered, is that real flax?"

and my fave,

"Hemp--it's not just for smoking anymore."

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