1. Makeup not understanding you as a human.
I could be bitter about this (I definitely am), but it’s time for a Chelsea Fagan Personal Anecdote:
Today, I went to my local makeup emporium to pick up some tinted moisturizer. As it is officially summertime, and none of us want to be weighed down by a sticky concoction of creams and powders, I felt that the light-yet-forgiving tinted lotion route was the way to go. After all, I still have my spots of redness to futilely attempt to minimize, even when my entire face is sweating off my skull. Knowing that these moisturizers tend to be fairly light as it stands, and blend in relatively well to the skin at hand, I picked the “extra light,” assuming that it would be generally the best shade for my ginger complexion.
Not so! As has happened so many times before, the makeup industry’s idea of “extra light” tends to be something close to “gently bronzed,” and not the “recently deceased sheet of paper” that so many of us are actually sporting. As I feared, even a slight application of the product left me looking like one of those unfortunate human-Cheeto hybrids whose line of demarcation along the jawline is as pronounced as the Great Wall of China.
Makeup is not made for redheads, and we just have to accept it.
2. People assuming you are kidding about your sunburns.
When you’re out with all of your friends enjoying a few summer follies on the beach or at the park, and you warn everyone that you won’t be able to sit outside for the long haul, you are never actually listened to. “Yeah, sure, we’ll go in later,” they say. “Put on some sunscreen,” they advise (lol, as if you weren’t constantly coated in a two-inch thick layer of the stuff on a constant basis from Memorial to Labor Day).
Lo and behold, seven hours later and you are still roasting in the unforgiving sun. While everyone else has had the time to add another layer to their sun-kissed Coppertone Baby look, showing off those sexy little lines where their tan has been prevented by the string of a bathing suit, you have been chasing around the one sliver of shadow you can find and hoping that you won’t literally develop skin cancer that night. It’s not until you go inside and are covered with the kind of sunburn that falls somewhere between “purple” and “my skin is sloughing off in sheets of pain,” that everyone realizes you weren’t kidding. Summer is the season of your suffering, and there is no escaping it.
3. Strange expectations about your pubes.
I once had a man tell me he was looking forward to, and I quote, “Some fiyah up top and some fiyah down below.” (This was his terrible way of pronouncing “fire,” if anyone was confused there.) One of the rights of passage as a Ginger is being asked at least once a month since the first whispers of puberty if your curtains match the carpet. Pro tip: There is no right answer to this, except perhaps screaming “THERE IS NO CARPET” as you throw hot hair-removal wax into their eyes.
4. Not being able to dye your hair.
Though there are a few brave Gingies who actually take the plunge and dye their hair, for many of us, it is simply something we have never experienced. Every day we are told to never dye our hair, told that we will never be able to recreate it if we go with even a marginally different color. And while it’s true that this is generally flattering (and certainly saves an enormous amount of money in the long run), it is all of our destiny to spend hours lovingly gazing at the girls who are able to dye their hair a wispy lavender or raven black or even loud copper with complete impunity. We want to try lavender hair, god damnit, it’s not fair.
5. Having a lot of colors that just do not work for you.
You’re out shopping with a friend and someone hands you something in a bright orange or a fluorescent anything, and they’re like, “Go ahead, try it, it would be cute!” Little do they know that these are among the many colors that immediately make a redhead look as though they are fighting some sort of food poising and cannot stop sweating as every last bit of blood drains from their face. There are colors which are simply angry at redheads for existing, and have made it their mission in this world to make us look as sallow and unfortunate as possible. The day that a lime green minidress doesn’t make me look a wobbly Ziploc bag of 2% milk is the day that I will know God truly loves redheads after all.
6. Your whole body being just as red as your hair is sometimes.
You don’t know what it means to have that ginger complexion until you are afraid of even a zesty gust of wind, because it will mean that your whole face will become a Pollack painting of red and white splotches. A particularly pleased smile? Redness. A splash of water against your cheeks? Redness. Sitting in the sun for more than 30 seconds? Redness, coupled with a sudden appearance of about 13085203985208 freckles that were previously hidden like some sort of lost Egyptian civilization. Your face is simply a blank canvas waiting to be recklessly drawn on by the everyday activities that other people can engage in with impunity.
And I know some of you are just like, “Why don’t you wear a little cover-up?” Oh, you poor, sweet thing. You really think that a little foundation or concealer — made by the hands of mortals, crafted with normal human skin in mind — is going to prevent the red splotches from triumphantly emerging all over our faces? Hah. There is no makeup that can stop the facial redness, that redness fights its way through to the surface at all costs. But it’s cute that you thought you had a solution.