I have grown to love my red hair, but it hasn’t always been this way. As a child, I begged my parents to let me dye my hair blonde or brown, basically any color but red. I would plead “please, all the kids are making fun of me and I just want to be normal.” Normal is such fallacy. The truth is, there is no such thing as normal.
As a child, I was bullied mercilessly for having red hair. However, it comes to no shock that elementary school children are mean. Anyone who is different is called out. So much so, that in 2016 there was a fake story of a kid who sued his parents for giving him red hair *insert eye roll. Apparently, a believable enough scenario for people to think it was real. Hate crimes like “Kick a Ginger Day” inspired by South Park don’t help either.
In middle school, bullying morphed into boys calling me “ginger” and teasing me about my freckles. They would make jokes about kicking a ginger or other distasteful terms. Growing up, I was told, “you’re pretty for a redhead.” Can I never just be pretty? In high school, I was finally old enough to dye my hair so I tried everything from blonde to brown. It wasn’t until I started dating Chase that I started to love myself for who I was. He always disapproved when I wanted to color my hair. There is nothing wrong with coloring your hair, but I was doing it for all the wrong reasons. I was trying to become someone I wasn’t and it was anything but healthy.
“What sets you apart can feel like a burden, and it’s not. A lot of the time, it’s what makes you great.”
– Emma Stone
It has been years since I have been made fun of for my hair. Growing up, people always told me I would grow to love my red locks. I didn’t believe them until I reached college age and realized how unique I am. I also happened to meet two amazing redheads I regularly refer to as my sisters. I met Kyleigh and Eryn at recruitment for an organization called North Texas Sweethearts my junior year of college. At first glance, I was automatically deemed Eryn’s doppelgänger and we all connected from the start. There’s just something about a redhead bond, am I right?
Ever since meeting my ging sisters I have refused to color my hair. Just by having red hair we connect on so many levels like shared trauma from bullying to foundation that will actually match our fair skin. We also regularly discuss different tanning lotions, but for the most part, decide to ditch them altogether. I didn’t see how beautiful my hair was until I saw it through them and now you couldn’t pay me to change it. We love going out and tricking people into thinking we’re triplets. Two out of this trio have even successfully swapped ID’s *not recommended.
Red hair comes with a lot of unsolicited questions like “Who did you get your red hair from?” and “OMG is that your natural color?”. But I don’t mind now. I am proud of what makes me different. Everyone used to make fun of my fiery locks but now, they’re one of the things that everybody says they love. I know my experience of being bullied pales in comparison to others. Instead, I want this story to serve as an opportunity to lift others up and stop critiquing each other for what we’re born with.
If I have a daughter with red hair in the future, I would hope that she grows up in a world that tolerates people for all of their different characteristics. But if not, I’m sure that experience will turn her into a resilient young lady who hopefully shows empathy towards others for things they cannot change.
What makes you different? Did you ever wish you could change it?