I Am: A Ginger
There’s this man I see almost every day on my walk to work. I smile in acknowledgement as he calls out “Good morning, Red!” It’s a brief interchange. About a year ago, though, he switched up his routine. He starting calling me “Blondie”. I stopped smiling in response.
I am a redhead. I was born with a full head of Ronald McDonald-esque plumage. Sure, it’s gotten lighter since then, but I still strongly identify as ginger, not blonde thankyouverymuch.
Part of my pride comes from a feeling that being a redhead sets me apart. As a child, there were constant reminders that I was slightly more rare, slightly more precious. My childhood literary heroes – Anne of Green Gables, Pippi Longstocking – were redheads. The Little Orphan Annie was a redhead. With this coloring, surely I was destined for greatness.
I even feign annoyance at what I call The Redheaded Stigma – that being, in part, that I’m related to every other redhead who ever existed. In grade school there was this mysterious “Maggie” a few grades above me whom everyone assumed was my older sister.
In high school I briefly dated (ok, less than “briefly” – it was a two-week summer science camp program in Iowa but whatever) a ginger and people called us “The Kentucky Couple” – implying both that we were related and that people in Kentucky are more prone to date their relatives (sorry, KY, kids are cruel). I’ve even had someone at work protest emphatically when I informed her that the other redhead who sat on our floor was not, in fact, my sister.
Perhaps people are implying that I don’t come across as confident as to who definitively is and is not a member of my immediate family, but I digress.
I get asked with disproportionate frequency if I’m Irish – especially around the middle of March. When people find out my parents are brunettes there are jokes about the mailman’s hair color (or the milkman for people who are dating themselves while questioning my mother’s moral fabric). There are other mild annoyances – one involving tempers, the other involving “carpets” and “drapes” – that I suffer stoically.It’s not easy being Red.
… OK, but yeah. I don’t mind any of this at all. I love being a ginger. I love my orange eyebrows and translucent skin. It is one of my greatest dreams to one day birth wee ginger babies. I love being a member of our special Ginger tribe.
It’s entirely possibly I put too much stock in my hair color. I know I could always dye it if it were to fade further. I realize that we are talking about hair here. Triviality aside, being a Ginger is one of my favorite things about who I am.