A Scarlet Reputation

Daily Prompt: Do you have a reputation? What is it and where does it come from? Is it accurate? What do you think about it?

Reputation – don’t talk to me about ย reputation. Reputations come from gossip and those who borrow their opinions from the mouths of others. No woman wants to get a Reputation.

I first got a reputation when I was 17 years old and I decided to dye my hair pink. It was a shocking pink; no fluffy my-little-pony shade for me, then, and this was the 1990s when only punks had colourful hair. For some people, the pink hair told them all they needed to know about me – but for me, their reaction to my pink hair told me everything I needed to know about them. I was not so much rebelling, as conducting my own sociological experiment, observing human nature from behind my bright facade. I was totally invisible at the same time as I was completely conspicuous – everybody noticed me, but nobody looked at me. Nobody looked beyond my shock of hair.

It never occurred to me that this experiment could stick; that this hair colour would still be reflected back at me in the eyes of others, long after I had let the pink fade to the white bleached hair underneath, and even many years later when I had gone back to a respectable brown.

It was the pink hair that first separated me, that first made me ‘other’, although it wasn’t the only thing. In my home town, I would always be viewed as different. Not normal. Someone who didn’t care; someone to whom the rules did not apply. Somehow this made me less human. After this, it was easier to disregard the things that made me human, easier for other people to believe that I didn’t care about anything; so that when I became a single mother the verdict was that, yes of course, I had done this on purpose. Just to be different.

You know you have a reputation when somebody opens a door to you and, as you stand beneath them on the doorstep, holding this small child who would melt anyone’s heart, who would make anyone – anyone who didn’t know you from those days – exclaim and coo

‘Hello, oh isn’t she gorgeous!’

but this is you and it’s your baby, and instead they say

‘Oh, it’s you,’ and wrinkle their nose as if they had smelt something bad and in their eyes you see the memory of your pink hair, and omg the things they heard about you at uni, and didn’t they always know you would turn out this way? You want to defend yourself, explain yourself, tell them no, it wasn’t like that – but reputations aren’t about truth, they’re about gossip and people who take their opinions from the mouths of others.

Reputation. Don’t talk to me about reputation.

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23 thoughts on “A Scarlet Reputation

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  7. I love that you dyed your hair that pink, love it. Now PINK the pop star does it and it seems “acceptable”, probably because she’s an artist, but you JUST DID IT. Love it. And I know exactly what you mean, their reaction to you told you all you needed to know about them. Same happened when I shaved my head completely bald (after Daniel & me survived a long time of crap). The receptionist at work said I frightened her when the lift opened and I was there with no hair. It was HILARIOUS.

    Wow, then so raw at the end. This is a great piece, Rose, and I’m fully with you.

    • Thanks for those words, they mean a lot.
      You don’t look frightening in the pictures I have seen on your blog where you have a shaved head! People are so afraid of anyone who isn’t almost identical to them…

      • I know, so true (people’s fear). My boss, a female, asked me was “everything all right?” At the time I thought it absurd, but I guess me just shaving my head was extreme, & I understand her asking now. Though at the time it just added to the crazy reactions I got. She was a nice boss, actually ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. It sounds as if she meant well, but I can understand you not knowing how to take it at the time! It makes such a difference to your days when you have a boss who cares about you ๐Ÿ™‚

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  11. Without doubt we humans, all of us, like to pigeonhole other people. It’s self protective mechanism that contributed to the success of our species in early times that lingers on and on and on …

    • I never thought of it that way,but yes i guess it is a self protective instinct. It’s one that I have always fought…
      Thankyou for your perspective,and for following! ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. I love your thoughts! I agree with you that reputations aren’t about truths. They’re about little and bits and pieces that people may have heard about you, that they choose to put together and define you by. The reputation doesn’t show the real inside person, only the superficial (and often false) outsides. Great post!

  13. The saddest part of this, is that the most judgmental are typically people who can’t even live up to their own standards, let alone anyone else. I think what you did was brave and far more worthy of a fulfilling life than simply falling into line with the rest of the flock. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • It is strange how the most judgmental seem to be the least moral of all in their own actions…maybe they are too busy looking at other people’s behaviour to think about their own!
      Thankyou for the kind words they are much appreciated ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Your post brought me back when I accidently died my hairs “closed to burnt blonde” hard to described… But I worked at a church that time.. I walked in and my pastor looked at me… I remember him (a very wise man) just smiled ๐Ÿ™‚ …. I had to teach that day… in “older ladies ministry” Imagine what I felt! ๐Ÿ™‚ However, I said, ” It was an hair color went wrong.. regardless.. I am teaching today because my FAITH is not determined by the color of my hair :-)”

    I wish someday people will stop judging a book by its cover… HECK stop judging PERIOD ๐Ÿ™‚

    Flo….

    • Funny story! I love what you said: ‘my faith is not determined by the colour of my hair’ – it absolutely sums up everything that I was saying…people make so many assumptions.
      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your story ๐Ÿ™‚

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