When your infant self is likened to something along the lines of a candle, that is, a devastatingly pale body with what looks to be flames atop your head, you have to expect a slightly off-kilter upbringing. While one may hear the silly trials and tribulations that growing up as a redhead bring along with it, the reality of the developmental years of, in modern terms, a “ginger,” is most often highly underrated. So here I have compiled a list of some of the lesser attended to issues that growing up as a display of recessive genes brings.
1. Ceaseless fawning from an older generation.
While it is flattering to have such devoted fans, the attention is not particularly comfortable for the introverted human. While the younger kids used my rare physical traits as a means of bullying (See: number 2), the older generation saw them as adorable. However as a child, older men and women stroking your head and asking “if it’s natural” is nothing short of traumatic.
2. Forcibly subject to a slew of strange and highly fiction-based stereotypes.
Elementary and middle school breed the perfect environments for the cruelest of bullies. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to see the psychological reasons behind a bully’s motives (See: insecurities), however at the time, I was oftentimes made to feel like a walking mutation. Common nicknames were fire-crotch (before pubic hair was even in the realm of my existence), Chucky, ginger, carrot top, period head, strawberry-shortcake, and coppertop. And of course, with the red hair come the freckles and with the freckles come a handful of taunts, most notably, freckle-face. In elementary school, my skin even became a game of connect-the-dots for the boy who sat behind me in math.
3. Necessity to learn the skill of recognizing complementing colors.
Complete literacy of the color wheel becomes quickly necessary as does putting together publically presentable outfits. I learned the hard way that red hair and hot pink don’t necessarily go together (however I do not want this to discourage anybody from trying, it just doesn’t work for me). Learning to put on make-up was nothing short of disastrous. Let’s just say that orange eye shadow did nothing to ease the attention my hair already procured.
4. Refusal of any sort of hair dye from both the parents and the hairdresser.
Whether this is done for the redheads’ sake, or the sake of the more ancient generation (See: number 1), will forever be a mystery to me. Perhaps people who come in contact with the rare hair color have an innate instinct to protect it. With ever-present rumors of the redhead extinction comes the need to preserve every last one.
5. Biologically patriotic attire.
Even sans clothing, the redhead is always patriotic.
With the redhead commonly come other recessive genes that include but are not limited to, pale skin, freckles, and blue eyes. Ever so coincidentally, the natural color palette of the redhead aligns with that of the American flag (See also: Australian, Cambodian, Chilean, Cuban, French, Russian, and United Kingdom flags).
And as I sit here releasing passive aggressive childhood angst, I have grown to appreciate the auburn mixture my hair has taken on. Most fellow redheads I have encountered grow to have the same appreciation. You soon come to realize that while having red hair may force you into the redhead category, no two hues are exactly the same. Much of a person’s character is determined by their developmental experiences. That being said, physical characteristics and quirks of any kind come with them their respective taunts and stereotypes. However these variances usually come to be some of our most proud accessories. While my hairdresser still refuses to dye my hair, I haven’t even thought to ask.