The Great Ginger Disaster

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Here’s a little stand-alone story that has been occupying my thoughts lately! I hope you all enjoy and be sure to check out my other work if you haven’t read it before.

A Soulless Life

That stupid show. As if it wasn’t hard enough being a redhead before, with all of the sunburns and freckles and just sticking out in a crowd. Then Southpark had to go and make it fun to pick on us. They named us gingers, told everybody we didn’t have souls. I was in middle school when the episode first premiered.

Then there was National Kick a Ginger day. If you wondered, yes, people did actually kick me. Which, as a scrawny, flat chested freshman in high school, was a surprise. For not only was I a ginger, but I was also a late bloomer. It took until my junior year for me to finally grow a set of boobs. At least when I grew them, I really grew them.

Fortunately, I was better off than most gingers. Although it was slow and normally accompanied plenty of freckles, I could actually tan if I spent enough time outside. And thanks to my favorite extra-curricular activity, track and cross country, I spent plenty of time outside. The boobs made junior and senior year a little bit more difficult, but I rapidly discovered the value in a good sports bra.

I was a fairly talented athlete, making it to state in both cross country and in the 200 meter sprint and 800 meter relay events. My athletic prowess made me remotely popular, but no matter what, everybody had something to say about my stupid red hair.

My parents felt like I was blessed. Neither of them had red hair yet I had a head full of thick, curly red hair. I always had wanted to dye it. Or bleach it really. I had always envied the gorgeous blondes in my school. But my parents always refused.

”Your hair is so beautiful! Never change it,” they’d say. They didn’t know how terrible it was to be a ginger though.

So, instead of taking the easy route and just changing the color of my hair, I was forced to keep it. I kept it long and styled it as best as I could, straightening the curls with heat every day. But people still made fun of me whenever they could. I tried to laugh it off, act like it didn’t bother me, even though it really did.

Just before prom night of my senior year, I begged my parents to let me go blonde. But my complaints fell on deaf ears. They wouldn’t let me throw away my “perfect red color” even though, after 18 years of having it, I was sick of it.

I had hoped that for a special occasion like prom they would have let me do what made me happy, but I was wrong. I had the dress, my prom date was so handsome in his tux, but I hated my hair, even after my parents sent me to a stylist to style it in an elaborate updo.

After prom came graduation. Maybe then I’d be a free woman. I was 18, I would be going to college at the end of the summer. Maybe, just maybe, my parents would help me out and send me to a salon to finally go blonde. Then I could go off to a new college where nobody would ever have to know I was a ginger.

But, of course their answer was no. Again. And so I walked the stage with my long ginger locks hanging out from under my graduation cap. I preferred to straighten my wild curls and with the cap, it was necessary to even be able to fit it over my head.

”Look, even people without a soul can still graduate high school,” a boy said.

The boy who kicked me back in middle school on National Kick a Ginger Day reminded me of that exact event as he hugged me after the ceremony. I laughed a fake laugh as he mocked his own junior high immaturity. When I turned away to my actual friends, I curled up my lip in disgust. I hated being a ginger and would find a way to change that before college.

All throughout the summer, I begged my parents, but it was always the same replies I had gotten before. But I had a plan.

For two weeks at the end of July, my parents would be out of town as my dad traveled for a work trip and my mom would be joining him. As an only child, I would have the house to myself. Most 18 year olds who were getting ready to go off to college would be planning parties, meanwhile I was planning to bleach all of the horrible ginger color out of my hair.

The Blonding

The time arrived. I dropped my parents off at the airport and immediately stopped at the beauty supply store. Two of my best friends, Emmy and Maggie, were waiting for me when I got home with the supplies. I had plenty of combs, brushes, a repairing hair mask, and, just to be safe, I bought six bleach kits and two packs of toner.

I didn’t want to not get my hair light enough and have to venture out without my hair being finished, and my hair was thick, long, and curly. Even when curly it still hung down to my mid back. So, with the supplies ready and laid out, with an old stained t-shirt and an old beach towel draped over my shoulders, we were ready.

“I can’t believe you’re doing this Izzy! Your red hair is iconic!” Emmy said pulling on some gloves.

“Iconically horrible. Come on, I get the feeling this is going to take a while and I’m ready to be a blonde,” I said, settling into the chair I sat on in my parents’ spacious master bathroom.

Even though Maggie had her shoulder length highlighted blonde hair in a ponytail, she acted like she was tossing a long, flowing head of hair over her shoulder. “It is pretty amazing to be a blonde. We do actually have more fun.”

Emmy laughed, her bra strap length chocolate brown hair pulled up in a high bun, “Well, Maggie, let’s give our girl a makeover.”

And with that, they began. My long hair was straightened and sectioned out, held by clips. Each girl then took a side and began painting the bleach on my long red hair. They tried to work fast so that they could give each section a relatively even amount of time to develop, but my hair was so thick so it still took about thirty minutes to apply the first coat of bleach. They applied it root to tip and I could feel the heat on my scalp as the despised color was sapped from my hair.

After letting it develop for the minimum recommended time on the box, I hung my head into the shower. I could already seen a substantially lighter color, even through the bleach that coated my hair. It had taken two boxes to be able to cover my massive head of hair. Emmy used the detachable shower nozzle to rinse the bleach out of my hair.

”Okay, it’s definitely lighter, but you can’t freak out,” Emmy said cautiously.

”Why? What’s wrong?” I asked, instantly beginning to freak out.

”It’s a little uneven. But it’s going to be okay. We have four more boxes and then the toner. It’s going to be fine,” Emmy said as the water ran off the ends of my now significantly lighter hair.

I could see what she meant as I looked at the hair that hung down around my face. It was lighter for sure, but rather than being a nice summery blonde like I hoped for, it was bright orange and patchy. I took a deep breath and tried to calm down. That’s what I bought the extra bleaching kits for. It would be okay.

”Alright, let’s get this rinsed out and we’ll do another coat. I’m going to be a blonde before the day is over,” I said.

Maggie patted me on the hunched over back, “That’s right, you will be. You’re going to be looking like a hottie.”

My hair was soon rinsed and towel dried and I returned to my seat in the chair. I looked terrible, uneven orange hair, the roots more yellow than the rest of my hair. But it was all a part of the process. It had to be. I needed to be a blonde, and soon. I did notice that my hair seemed more limp. Less curly. Maybe going blonde would take away the curls I hated too.

The girls applied a new coat of bleach and this time we let it sit for longer, just a few minutes shy of the longest recommended time. My head felt especially warm under the plastic shower cap that was included with the kit so I was sure it was working. I wanted to be platinum blonde and if heat was any indication of how light my hair would be, I would be getting my platinum hair. Emmy and Maggie both noted that my hair seemed less thick and they had a much easier time applying the bleach this time around.

Just as my head was starting to get uncomfortably warm, the timer went off. Emmy hurried me to the shower and began rinsing out my hair. I could almost immediately tell that my hair still held a slight orange tint. We’d have to do it one more time.

”Sorry babe. Maybe we can come back in a week and try again?” Emmy said. Emmy called all of her friends babe and it made me smile each time she did it.

”A week? Absolutely not! I bought the hair repair mask, I’ll just use that after I’m blonde,” I argued.

”But you’re shedding a pretty good amount of hair. I’m worried we might be damaging your hair too much,” Emmy cautiously said.

”I have so much hair, it won’t hurt to thin it out a little. I need to be blonde, I can’t go a week with orange hair. It’s bad enough being a ginger, it would only be worse to have a head full of bright orange hair,” I complained.

My hair was rinsed and I flipped it up and looked from Emmy to Maggie expectantly. They looked at each other, clearly uncomfortable, but finally Maggie shrugged. “It’s her hair. She knows it better than we do.”

Emmy nodded, “Okay. We have enough for one more. We’ll leave it on longer this time so we can hopefully get the orange out.”

”Let’s make me blonde,” I said with a cocky smile. I felt confident, like I did when Emmy, Maggie, and I lined up to do the 800 meter relay together. Combined we had made up three quarters of the relay team our senior year. The fourth was a junior that we liked, but she wasn’t really a part of our friend group.

I sat down in my seat for one more session. We were going to be successful. My hair was already so light that we could have toned it and I probably would have ended up with a decently yellow blonde, but I wanted perfection. This was the first day of the rest of my life and I didn’t want anybody to doubt that I was a real blonde.

“Oh hey, let’s bleach my eyebrows too this time. I want to look like a natural blonde. Like one of those Scandinavian supermodels,” I said, looking at Maggie in the mirror.

She shrugged, “Whatever you say boss lady. Two blonde eyebrows coming up!”

And so they began to apply the last coat. This time, they applied the bleach to the ends first and then my roots. The last thing they applied the hatch chemicals to was my eyebrows. I could see that my hair was turning blonde right before my eyes. It was finally happening. I was going to be a blonde. I would be a ginger no more.

We left it to sit one last time, for the longest recommended time, one the box said was reserved for perfectly cared for virgin hair. Mine had been virgin before we started, aside from the daily heat usage. I was sure it would be fine.

Spoiler Alert: It Wasn’t Fine

My head was definitely burning under my shower cap when the time ran out on my timer. The chining started and Emmy and I hurried to the shower. When she started rinsing, I could immediately tell something was wrong.

My curls, which existed even when my hair was wet, were completely gone. And I could see hair piling up in the floor of the shower as even just the pressure of the water was too much for my now fragile hair.

”Oh my god, Izzy. This is bad. This is so bad,” Emmy said.

I head Maggie step over next to us, “It’s not so bad! It’ll be okay, right?”

I tried to run my hands through my wet, pale blonde hair, huge clumps came out in my fingers. Immediately my eyes filled with tears.

”No no no. No! This isn’t happening!” I said, pulling more and more clumps of hair away with my hands and dropping it on the shower floor.

”Stop doing that!” Maggie shouted, trying to grab my hands.

”Maggie, my hair is falling out! I’m not pulling it out, it’s already broken off! Look at it!” I cried.

We stood in the big shower together once the water had rinsed away all of the bleach and hair that would fall away on its own and we began to pull away broken off hair. By the time we were done, the floor was piled up with what I was sure was my whole head of blonde hair.

When we stepped out, I didn’t want to look but I knew I had to. Hesitantly, I looked at my reflection and instantly went into panic mode. My once mid-back length hair had almost all broken off. It now hung limp and uneven above my shoulders. I could see actual bald patches where my hair had broken off completely at the scalp. My eyebrows were white blonde and I looked like some kind of a monster.

“Oh my god, what do I do? What do we do?” I asked Maggie and Emmy, eyes wide under my white blonde brows.

”Maybe the hair repair mask would help?” Maggie offered.

”Maggie, I don’t have any hair to repair! You can see my scalp! I’m basically bald!” I said at a near shout. I held her hands and looked from her to my reflection frantically.

“I think we have to shave your head, Izzy,” Emmy said softly. She sniffled and wiped a tear from her eye.

I whirled around to face her, “Shave my head? Are you kidding? I was supposed to be a blonde today! Not bald!”

Emmy had tears in her eyes and held my shoulders, “Izzy, you said it yourself. You’re basically bald. You have bald patches everywhere. The only thing we can do is shave the rest off and start over.”

I looked from her, to my reflection, and then back to her. She nodded at me silently. My lip quivered as I nodded.

”Okay.”

In one of the drawers in the bathroom, I found my dad’s beard trimmer. I handed it to Emmy. Maggie wouldn’t be able to do it. Although Emmy was also crying, Maggie had turned into a weepy mess.

”Izzy, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry,” she kept saying.

”Maggie, shut up. This is my own stupid fucking fault,” I said, staring at my reflection in the mirror.

”I’m sorry, Izzy,” she said one more time.

I looked from my reflection to hers and glared. She ducked her head and nodded.

”Alright, are you ready to start?” Emmy asked.

”Fuck no. But I’ll never be. Just do it,” I said.

Emmy nodded and flipped the switch on the beard trimmer. It was the strangest thing I had ever experienced. Having my head shaved felt like a dream. Not the dream I had expected to fulfill that day, though.

My hair was so thin and patchy that Emmy had no trouble at all taking it all off. She explained that she had a little brother and had buzzed his hair off before so she knew how to handle the trimmer. She also said it was taking a little longer than it should because the trimmer blades were so much more narrow than normal clippers.

Soon, I was able to look at myself in the mirror and see a bald head. I looked so strange. My head was pale, made more pale by the patches of bleached blonde stubble. The pale blonde eyebrows only made the look even more weird.

”Izzy, I think we need to shave your head. Like actually shave it. With a razor. The parts that broke off at your scalp are actually bald and you can tell a difference. We need to get all of the blonde off,” Emmy said.

”Just fucking do it. I don’t even care anymore,” I said, all of my tears spent.

My mind was too busy racing, trying to think a way out of my predicament. But I couldn’t think of anything.

Emmy got one of my new razors and some of my dad’s shave gel. She applied the shave gel to my head. My head. Somebody was about to take a razor that I used on my legs and underarms to my fucking head. I was supposed to be blonde. Not bald.

My head was now coated in shaving cream and Emmy began to carefully drag the razor across my scalp. It felt weird, sounded weird, was weird. Maggie had finally started to get it together.

”At least you look good bald,” she offered.

”I wanted to look good blonde,” I deadpanned.

”What are you going to do when it grows back red and your eyebrows are blonde?” Emmy asked.

”I guess I have to shave my eyebrows off too. They look terrible anyway,” I said.

“Sorry, babe,” Emmy said.

”It’s ok. I mean it isn’t, but I don’t know what else to say,” I said.

Emmy scraped away the last scraps of hair from my head, running the razor over every inch of my scalp to make sure it would be even. My head looked so bald. Like no hair ever grew there. Then she used the trimmer on my eyebrows. I used the razor, not trusting anybody else that close to my eyes with something sharp.

And like that, I was bald. Truly and completely. And that was when I got my idea. I could salvage this. My eyes opened wide, an expression that looked strange without eyebrows. But I’d get used to not having eyebrows.

”I know what I’m going to do,” I declared.

”What? Be bald? Because that’s all you can do until it grows back,” Emmy said.

“Nope,” I said.

”What do you mean nope?” Emmy asked, confused.

”Do you remember that guy at state junior year? The pole vaulter that was so good?” I asked.

She cocked her head to the side, her blonde ponytail hanging down like it was mocking me. I would have killed for even shoulder length blonde hair. But that wasn’t going to happen. It was too late for that.

Maggie was the first to realize what I was thinking, “Izzy no!”

Emmy caught up quickly, “Yeah, no!”

”He had that disorder, right? The one where you don’t grow hair?” I asked, a slight smile forming on my face.

”Yeah, alopecia. But you don’t! You just shaved your head!” Maggie said.

”Nobody has to know that. Look at me! Do I look any different than he did?” I asked.

”But you literally just shaved. What will it look like after a week?” Emmy asked in reply.

”Nobody will have to know if I shave every day! I shave my legs every day anyway! What difference is adding in my head and eyebrows?”

”So you’re just going to be bald forever?” Maggie asked, tears springing back into her eyes.

”It’s better than being a fucking ginger,” I said.

”Even if you have to fake having alopecia?” Emmy asked.

”I’m not going to be the ginger anymore. I’m done. Even if I have to be the bald girl. Nobody would make fun of me if they knew I couldn’t grow hair,” I said, standing and putting my hands on my hips.

“But you can grow hair!” Emmy nearly shouted.

I put a hand on my head. It felt so weird under my fingers. Smooth and sticky. I guessed I’d get used to it.

”No I can’t, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I have alopecia,” I said.

And that was it. I was bald. I deleted all social media and made new accounts, deleting all history of my horrible red hair. I only hung out with Emmy and Maggie for the rest of the summer, uninterested in seeing anybody that knew me with hair. It wasn’t like there was that much time left.

My parents were pissed when they got back, but I didn’t care. It wasn’t like they could put hair on my head, or take my razors away from me. Each day I shaved everything. My head, my eyebrows, my face, my arms, underarms, legs, and even my pubes. Anywhere that even peach fuzz might grow. Fortunately my red hair was pale when it was short so five o’clock shadow wasn’t a problem.

I did my research, learned as much as I could about alopecia. I learned how to draw my eyebrows on with makeup, just like the girls I watched on YouTube and Instagram.

This new life even gave me the opportunity to be a blonde, finally. I wanted a wig, just like all of the other people who suffered from alopecia. My parents refused to buy one for me, unwilling to support this craziness that I had suddenly found. So I bought my own. I couldn’t afford a long one, but I was able to buy a blonde, chin-length bob. It had bangs that hung across where my eyebrows would have been if alopecia hadn’t taken them away.

I had one last hangout with Maggie and Emmy before we all moved off to college. We had dinner at a popular cafe in town, somewhere we’d all get together to have dinner after a meet. I wore my blonde wig to cover up my head that just could not grow hair.

”Hey, Maggie and Emmy, who’s your friend?” I heard a voice ask from behind me.

I turned and smiled, it was the boy who had kicked me back in middle school. And he had no idea who I was.

“I’m Lacey, Emmy’s cousin. Who are you?” I said with my smile going from genuine to entirely false.

”I’m Brett, it’s nice to meet you Lacey. Why don’t you come sit with me so I can get to know you,” he said.

I laughed in his face. Then I turned to Maggie and Emmy and laughed again. They joined me and we all laughed at Brett together.

”Go away little boy, my cousin Lacey is way too good to talk to you,” Emmy said when she finally stopped laughing.

”Oh go fuck yourselves,” Brett grumbled, face bright red with embarrassment, as he turned away.

We all looked at each other and laughed again. It had turned out to be a great last hoorah. And then we were off.

A Bald Life

Off at my new school, I settled into a new routine. My roommate was busy, she was a nursing major, which meant she was gone often. She was incredibly intrigued by my condition and had plenty of questions, all of which I had the answers to. Because she was so busy, I was able to keep my razors and shaving cream hidden, able to shave my whole body in secret each day.

I went around campus with my wig on most of the time, but sometimes went without it. Just like the women I saw online do. I went and tried out for the track team. I had been recruited some but hadn’t gotten a scholarship so I figured I’d at least go try out. Of course I went without my wig because it would have been ridiculous to run with that thing on.

Something I discovered as I lined up for my heat in the 200 meter sprint was that I felt light without hair. And then when the starting gun was shot, I realized how much faster I was without a massive head of red hair weighing me down. I beat all of the other girls in my heat.

The track coach came and personally offered me a spot on the team with a promise of a scholarship for the next year if I stuck around. I was happy to accept the offer and eagerly texted my two best friends from high school about it. But, I was honestly more excited to tell my new friends that I had made on campus.

So, now slowly growing into stardom on the track team, I started to make more friends. And pick up male suitors. Most had never even seen me without my wig, not knowing that I was bald. That ran most of them off. But not one.

Marcus had not even flinched when I took my wig off during our date. He was so sweet. He was a pre-law student and the son of a successful attorney, with big plans to become a partner with his dad one day. We went from our first date, to our second, to our third, and on and on until I was his girlfriend and he was my boyfriend. He was a perfect gentleman and spoiled me rotten.

And now my new life had been built. No longer was I the ginger that everyone mocked. I was the division one track star with a rich boyfriend, lots of friends, and a bright future. Maybe I’m bald from the top of my head to the tips of my toes, but I don’t care. It’s still better than being a ginger. Even if it means staying this way for the rest of my life.

7 responses to “The Great Ginger Disaster

  1. So what did you guys think of this stand-alone? And no, I don’t hate redheads, I think you guys have beautiful hair! But the hate that Izzy received was true for everybody I knew with red hair after that episode of Southpark dropped. Who here loves a good head of red hair?

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