The girl on the left of this picture is an imposter.
This long blonde-haired busty teen, who seems to be sporting barely-there make-up, features as Anne Shirley on the cover of a new modern version of 1908 coming-of-age book Anne of Green Gables. Amazon is selling this new version of the coming-of-age classic through its CreateSpace self-publishing arm.
LM Montgomery would not be happy about this. I’m not happy about this. And lots of other Anne fans around the world are not happy about this.
When I posted a link on my Twitter page earlier today, people agreed that the idea of this Fake Anne was “disgraceful”, “awful”, “outrageous”, a “#publishingfail”.
Because the real Anne-with-an-e of Green Gables is a skinny, scrawny redhead. Yes, she is amazing, imaginative, feisty, intelligent, loyal, and sparkly-beautiful. But she’s a redhead. And for her that’s not ok.
“Mrs Hammond told me that God made my hair red on purpose and I’ve never cared for Him since,” she says.
When Anne tries to dye her hair and fails—seriously fails—she cries: “I thought nothing could be as bad as red hair. Green is ten times worse.”
It’s her hair colour which brings us one of her first encounters with the dreamy Gilbert Blythe. When he calls her “carrots” in the classroom, he has no idea what’s coming to him. Anne is fearless and feisty. Violence ensues.
Later on, talking to her best friend Diana, she says: “I shall never forgive Gilbert Blythe. The iron has entered my soul, Diana. My mind is made up; my red hair is a curse.”
Will they cut these brilliant scenes from this new version? I doubt it. Which means the girl on the front cover won’t correlate with the Anne Shirley that’s inside.
Not only is a Blonde Anne contrary to some of the most integral plot lines of the book, but she takes away a lot of the meaning which has made Anne of Green Gables a favourite for young girls for decades.
Many redheaded women saw Anne as a heroine. One friend wrote on my Facebook wall: “She was the only hope for girls like me growing up ginger.” Another tweeted me: “I am a redhead and based my determined yet romantic ways as a teenage girl on Anne!”
When Anne is talking about her red hair, some young readers might be thinking of their own. But what’s so great about LM Montgomery’s storytelling about girlhood is that when Anne is moaning about her hair colour other readers are thinking of their big nose, or their freckles, or their height, or their weight, or their teeth. They are identifying with that feeling of being inadequate, of not being quite right, of not fitting in. And it means that they’re not alone in their insecurities.
But when a new generation of little girls sees this new Anne on the front cover, they will find it hard to identify with her; many of them will instantly feel less than her while others will feel they need to strive to become like her – perfect, pouty, buxom, blonde.
This girl looks like she could feature on the front of Cover Girl.
But she could never be Anne Shirley.