Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Blond Anne? That makes me see red

Childhood icon gets extreme makeover

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As an authentic ginger-haired woman (and former red-headed little girl), I am calling out the fool who decided to depict Anne of Green Gables as a blond.

That's right: Our own Anne, Lucy Maud Montgomery's plucky 11-year-old orphan, has been transformed into a yellow-haired teen on the cover of a new collection of the classic novels.

This nouveau, fake Anne leans back on a hay bale, chest forward, come-hither face staring directly at the reader. She's wearing lipstick. There is no sign of "two braids of very thick, decidedly red hair."

Note to marketing folks: It was a straw hat, not a hay bale.

Forget the "very short, very tight, very ugly dress of yellowish-gray wincey" Anne is wearing when the reader meets her for the first time. The new tart fills out her plaid shirt quite nicely.

Surely this depiction of a Canadian icon is unconstitutional. Someone call Megan Follows! Alert P.E.I.! Strike a Senate committee!

We gingers are a maligned minority. Many of us freckle under a 100-watt bulb, blush at the slightest provocation and keep the production of SPF 100 rolling. Judas Iscariot was a redhead. So were Lizzie Borden, L. Ron Hubbard and Carrot Top.

Gingers need role models. And as a once little girl with red braids long enough to swat flies, I had Anne of Green Gables. Sure, Anne hated her red hair, but she was brave and sweet and very, very talkative. And she eventually found a guy -- proof even a skinny little redhead from Garden City had a chance.

I held her up as an example to my own red-haired daughter. She and Pippi Longstocking were literary heroes to generations of little girls with flame hair.

"People laugh at me because I use big words," Anne said. "But if you have big ideas, you have to use big words to express them, haven't you?"

Yes, Anne. And you weren't afraid to express them; a novelty to every redhead who turned crimson when attention came her way.

Now Amazon, under the CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, is rewriting history. For reasons they're not disclosing (and their PR folks did not respond to interview requests), they've altered Anne.

The Twitterverse was naturally quick to respond:

"So, the skankier Sweet Valley High twin is now moonlighting as Anne of Green Gables," tweeted Shannon Proudfoot.

"New jail-baity Anne of Green Gables cover," tweeted Marc Weisblott.

"Anne of Green Gables, Maxim edition," cracked Daniel MacEachern.

The Amazon website wasn't spared either.

"The Anne of Green Gables series is a wonderful collection of tales about a bright, spirited, lovely young woman," wrote sarahmas. "The updated cover of this product is terrible... Anne has red hair. RED HAIR. It's a key part of her character and is a strong influence on her words and actions. Secondly, Anne is 10 at the start of the series. What is up with the bedroom eyes? Did they just do a Google image search for Sexy Farm Girl?

"Does anyone publishing this book have any idea of what the stories are actually about?"

"Anne is a REDHEAD, to begin with," wrote S. Mineart.

"And a young person, not the sexpot portrayed on the cover here. It's as though the designer never opened the book at all. Book covers matter, people! They should reflect the content inside the book."

Two things are apparent. First, gingers and their supporters are vehement and sometimes used CAPITAL letters.

Second, they suspect, as do I, that the creative geniuses responsible for the redesign didn't crack the cover of the original version.

Politely, and with plenty of sunscreen on, we protest.

And if Conan O'Brien wants to take up our cause, we'll blush prettily and thank him.

lindor.reynolds@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 7, 2013 A7

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About Lindor Reynolds

National Newspaper Award winner Lindor Reynolds began work at the Free Press as a 17-year-old proofreader. It was a rough introduction to the news business.

Many years later, armed with a university education and a portfolio of published work, she was hired as a Free Press columnist. During her 20-plus years on the job she has written for every section in the paper, with the exception of Business. She’ll get around to them some day.

Lindor has received considerable recognition for her writing. Her awards include the Will Rogers Humanitarian Award, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ general interest award and the North American Travel Journalists Association top prize.
Her work on Internet luring led to an amendment to the Criminal Code of Canada and her coverage of the child welfare system prompted a change to Manitoba Child and Family Services Act to make the safety of children paramount.

She has earned three citations of merit for the Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service in Journalism and has been awarded a Distinguished Alumni commendation from the University of Winnipeg. Lindor was also named a YMCA/YWCA  Woman of Distinction.

She is married with four daughters. If her house was on fire and the kids and dog were safe, she’d grab her passport.
 
lindor.reynolds@freepress.mb.ca

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