The first word often used to describe me is something along the lines of “redhead” or “ginger”. For years, that has been my tag - whether it's because of how people identify me, remember me, or even (on some occasions) address me.
I remember the first time I heard the word "ginger". A kid in elementary school ran up to me and said, “You’re a ginger? No way! Aren’t gingers going extinct?”
As I’ve grown up, being a redhead has been something I’ve always enjoyed. I love feeling connected to my family’s deep Irish roots with my red hair and green eyes, and I love standing out in a crowd because of my hair color.
Still, I’ve noticed that being a “ginger” has both pros and cons. Though I’ve grown well-accustomed to hair dressers fawning over my hair, saying things like, “You don’t know how many women spend hundreds for your hair color”, I also am met with a fair share of comments like, “You’re lucky your eyelashes are so dark…for a ginger,” or “You don’t look as weird as most gingers do!” (I’m still not exactly sure what that means).
I’ve gotten comments subtly hinting about how ginger’s aren’t as pretty as people with other hair colors, and at other times, I’ve been approached by strangers telling me how lucky I am to be blessed with such unique genetics.
Needless to say, all of these comments have caused quite a rift in my thinking. Is it beautiful to be a ginger, or does something about my hair color make me look odd? If people truly spend money to match my hair color, why are so many jokes made about gingers?
Opinions on red hair seem to change from envy, to pity, to lust.
I’ve experienced guys only talking to me because they’ve never dated a redhead, as if I’m some sort of oddity or a challenge.
I’ve been told I should never marry a redheaded man because having ginger babies would be “too much”.
I’ve been showered with compliments, both genuine and backhanded, all revolving around my hair color. I’ve dealt with rude or inappropriate jokes and occasional ridicule because of my hair, but I’ve also received a lot of flattering compliments.
Needless to say, with so many compliments, insults, and everything in between, I've often struggled with what to think about my hair color. This was especially true when I was in middle school and early high school.
I've always felt that red hair lies somewhere in between being pitied, pursued, loved and mocked. But at the end of the day, the stigmas revolving around red hair have (mostly) stopped affecting me. Constantly questioning whether or not my red hair is a blessing or a curse is fruitless.
After all, even if some people use the word “ginger” condescendingly, I’m not quite ready to feel ashamed of it.
And I can say with all the confidence in the world: I absolutely love being a ginger.