MAY / JUNE 2012: BY ELLA G.
I’M SURE WE all possess something that we would call the “bane of our existence.”
You know, it is being petite and having to wear five inch heels to at least have a little volume. (Before we progress any further, yes, that is me to a tee.) Or it is being so tall you seem to tower over every one else in the room. What if it is pesky curls that we wish were slick and straight? Or could it be having hair that does absolutely nothing no matter how hard you try? The lists go on and on and on. You can deny having one, but face it, if we are honest with ourselves, we all know that we have something about ourselves that we want to change.
Anne Shirley is perhaps best known for one thing: her red hair. It is the thing she hates about herself the most. She could always imagine away other flaws in herself. An alabaster brow and starry violet eyes were easily attainable in her mind, but she could never, ever, ever imagine her red hair away. She can’t even call it anything but “red,” a generic word that to her bespoke of all the hate and ire she felt towards the color. True, the nickname that she unceremoniously garnered, “Carrots,” is not attractive. Boys and girls want nicer nicknames than something inspired by a vegetable. It doesn’t help if a new classmate calls you “Carrots” in front of the class. I get why she cracked a slate over his head. Being called a name is never an easy pill to swallow.
It probably didn’t help that Diana Barry, Anne’s bosom friend, looked like everything Anne wanted to look like. Namely, she had gorgeous black hair, hair Anne requests a lock of when they are torn apart by a mother’s unfortunate misunderstanding. We don’t have insight into Anne’s mind, but I bet she was envious of those tresses so vastly different from her own.
The story in books often parallel what the reader is experiencing. I know when I read a girl’s “plight” in regards to wishing something were different about herself, I can see my perceived problems staring me in the face.
Because we are vain and shallow human beings we often try to change the image issues we seem to have. Who can forget the scene where Anne tries to change her hair color with a peddler’s wares, a dye promised to turn her hair a beautiful raven black… instead of that luxurious color, Anne finds herself with green hair. Green is a million times worse than red. Anne learned this lesson the hard way as dye takes a little while to wear out. Megan Followes, in the film adaptation, does a fantastic job at conveying the utter despair Anne deeply felt. But here is the thing… her acting could have been portraying each and every one of us.
When I have gotten a pair of too high heels that pinch my feet and the feeling lingers for days on end, I feel in the depths of despair. I might as well have green hair for I can not imagine going out in public with it blatantly obvious that my “limp’s” source stemmed from my vanity.
It was hair dye for Anne Shirley; it might be heels for me. We all want to change ourselves to make our external appearances be everything we imagine (and if we are much like Lucy Maud Montgomery’s heroine, we have quite the imagination!). However, these things, these self-perceived flaws, are not what our sole focus should be upon. Our character is infinitely more important than all of the other things combined. If something inside of us is ugly, that should get all of the time and effort necessary to change. After all, our sin takes a lot of blood, sweat, tears, prayer, and a desire to change in order for it to be something of beauty. It’s not something easily accomplished; it is much more painful than getting a haircut to mask a bad hair job. But in the end we know that we are doing something that makes us more beautiful on the inside—the place where it counts the most, the qualities that will leave us with a more lasting legacy.
It would come across as a surprise to no one when I say that Anne Shirley is a literary character not too different from myself. I have a tendency to learn from those types of people, both in a book and on a television screen. If I can learn from their flaws and “mistakes” a greater lesson that God wants to communicate to me, then who am I to stand in His way? Even if it only does start with a wish and a bottle of hair dye, that is okay. We can learn and be taught lessons from anyone, if we let ourselves be teachable. Maybe we can spare ourselves some of the consequences if we only listen to others. That is so much better than learning the hard way.
Anne had to deal with green hair; I have had to deal with pinching feet. Embracing how God created us, as people of unique beauty, would be so much easier. ♥