I am a ginger. As a child, I was often subject to bullying and name-calling because of my red hair and needless to say, I came to learn to hate my hair from a very early age.
I refused to accept that any of the traits commonly associated with red-heads were true. When people asked if I had the temper that went with the hair colour, I would crossly inform them that that was a myth and that if a person with red hair had a temper it was because that was his/her personality. I would lather myself with tanning oil and lay out in the sun to get a tan. I hated it when people told me that red-headed persons were fair-skinned and therefore would burn in the sun and not tan. I wouldn’t believe it. I’m not sure how many sun burns it was before I started to accept the truth in that. When I was about 6, I started to get freckles on my nose. I wasn’t having that. I would sit in front of the mirror and try to scratch them off. I ended up with a few lovely scabs doing that. Defeated the purpose of trying the get rid of the dreadful freckles <insert sarcasm here> because scabs on my face looked so much better.
One of the notion’s I did tend to believe, as horrible as this may sound, was that redheads were ugly. When I was 13, I had a crazy crush on this one particular boy in my class. I thought at the time he was the gravy to my mashed potatoes. So you can imagine how thrilled I was when he made eye contact from across the classroom and motioned for me to come over to his desk. Like the silly school girl that I was, I rushed over to him and you know what he said to me? He said, “You know you are never going to get married. You have red hair and guys don’t like girls with red hair”. OUCH!!!! That was the clincher for me. Up until that point, having red hair was an inconvenience. With those words, it became a curse.
As soon as I was old enough, probably around 16, I started highlighting my hair. I wasn’t comfortable going for a complete hair colour change but I would put in the blondest highlights I could manage. That’s what I carried on doing up until about 3 years ago. That’s when a little red-headed girl from my church got up to give a speech that won her the county-wide speech competition. It was on red heads. And she talked about the things that were “cool” about being a red head.
What I learned from that little red-headed girl:
1. Only 1 to 2% of the WORLD’S population has red hair – so we are unique
2. Redheads don’t go grey. They go blonde and eventually white. Nice!
3. Individuals with red hair have a higher pain tolerance so we’re tougher. That’s right.
Although I learned a lot of “cool stuff” about redheads what was more important to me was how this little girl was viewing herself. Here she was embracing what Nature had given her. She wasn’t denying it, she was celebrating it. I could do that. I should do that I thought. I will do that.
First, I stopped highlighting my hair. What was my hair colour anyway? It had been blonde for so many years, I didn’t know what shade of red it would be. At that point, I wasn’t even sure if it might just be that blonde she said that comes in before white. Turns out it’s very coppery with some white hairs peppered throughout. And you know what? I do have a temper. Ask my husband and my kids.. With that temper though, also comes that passion she spoke of. That is something I definitely embrace. I don’t just like things, I LOVE them. It fires me up. It helps me to motivate others. It allows me to feel and to feel with all my heart.
My freckles have faded. If I want to see them I just need to go out in the sun. I don’t tan but I’ve learned to live with that. In fact, the freckles are my tan. When I’m in the sun, the freckles come out and that’s what gives me the red-headed “ruddy complexion”. I am careful in the sun though and because of that, I’m not aging as quickly (of course I’ve already done damage from my years of red headed denial).
And to that boy who said those mean and hurtful words back in the 8th grade. Jokes on you buddy. How many of the most beautiful people in Hollywood are redheads? Nicole Kidman, Jessica Chastain, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone and of the male persuasion, Damien Lewis or Sam Hueghan – the latest red-haired heart throb from Outlander (although he’s naturally blonde). I’d love to see what colour that boy’s hair is now … if he has any.
Do you have traits that you once wish you didn’t have that you can now embrace?