What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you meet a redhead? Probably something along the lines of, “he looks like a Weasley” or “I bet she has a bad temper”. How many times have you asked a redhead why they were so pale or why they had so many freckles? As a redhead myself, I’ve heard it all.

Yep, I’ve had frizzy red hair for my entire life. I never realized just how uncommon red hair was until I was about 13-years-old. In my (already awkward enough) middle school years, I was the only redhead in all of my classes. There was one particular boy who always made fun of me for it. He told me I was weird looking and/or ugly every day. He eventually got his whole posse of boys calling me names and asking me questions such as “does the carpet match the drapes?”. I didn’t even know what that meant at the time, but I began to think I was a freak.

I started straitening my hair every day so it would be less all over the place. I would wake up early to put on makeup and pick out my newest Hollister outfit for school. I was so desperate to be “cool” and to “fit in”. I wouldn’t ask questions in class or volunteer to write on the board because I didn’t want to bring any added attention to myself. I even bought a pair of boys’ shorts to wear in gym class to cover up the paleness of my legs.

I was able to embrace my hair a little more when I got to high school. I rarely ever saw those boys that picked on me; they had a much different idea of extracurricular activities than I did. There were a few other redheads in my classes freshmen year, so I didn’t feel so alone. Unfortunately, they all dyed their hair by the time we graduated. Perhaps they were tired of being asked if they had souls.

I’m glad that I never gave into the name calling and irrelevant questions. As a 21-year-old college student, I’ve realized that my hair is one of my best features. I enjoy being the only pale redhead in all of my classes. I now know that I am not funny looking or weird, but that I am unique.

The bigger my hair, the happier I am. Being told that I have no soul no longer offends me, but makes me laugh instead. Buying SPF 150 in the summer makes me thankful that I’ll never have skin cancer. My freckles are cute and no, I could not possibly count them all.

Do not ask me if I’m going to reproduce with another redhead or if my parents have red hair. Do not tell me that I only make up 2% of the world’s population because quite frankly, it does not matter. Do not make jokes about a "redheaded slut" and expect to get my number in a bar. Do not ask why my eyebrows are blonde or if red is my natural hair color. Most importantly, do not tell me that I am “pretty for a redhead”.

As crazy as it sounds, I wouldn’t be the person I am today without my red hair. Having red hair taught me not to judge people based on their looks because I know how hurtful that can be. It taught me to embrace things that make me different and to love myself for who I am.

I encourage you all to think before the next time you call someone a ginger, carrot top, redheaded stepchild, etc. Although I was able to build up my confidence through the years, it wasn’t easy and it isn’t for anyone else either. If you’re a struggling “ginger” as I once was, always remember that you are just as equally beautiful as any blonde or brunette. You won’t be able to find bobby pins or hair ties in your shade, but that’s just something you learn to live with.