National Kick a Ginger Day is tomorrow, guys. As a redhead, I’m a little scared.
Please don’t kick me on November 20th. I’m usually a girl who can find humor in anything, because I’m charmingly warped, you know? But NKAGD gives me awful flashbacks to life as a young ginger.
For as long as I can remember, I hated being a redhead. I despised old ladies in the store who would stop my mother and compliment my 6-year-old strands of long red hair. I hated being different. In the 80s and 90s, there were few redheads on television or movies. All I had in Ginger Entertainment was Disney’s Ariel, Peggy Bundy and those weird guys from Pete and Pete. Oh, and Budnick from Salute Your Shorts. They were a bunch of rejects. Even Ariel. As a child, I remember thinking: Wasn’t she plagued ENOUGH by having red hair? She had to have a giant and unlovable fin, too?
I hated the nicknames. I despised being called “Red” as much as Anderson Cooper seems to love wearing black V-neck shirts in war zones. I faced only mild discrimination as a child with red hair, but it still stung like bad ginger sunburn when Mean Girls would say that they didn’t want to be my friend because I had red hair.
The Queen Mean Girl was Italian, and her family owned some roach-infested restaurant on Long Island. She never stopped reminding me, or anyone else who happened to be my friend, that I was weird because of my hair color. I think she ended up with an eating disorder, so I believe her hatred of everyone else who was “different” manifested itself in her own body and caused her harm. I’ve silently forgiven her and wish her well.
I just lied to you; I haven’t forgiven her.
The worst memory I have as a ginger lass was when we had to read a passage of our favorite book to the class. It was 5th grade and this other little brunette brat stood up and read a self-hating ginger tirade from Anne, of "Anne of Green Gables":
"Now you see why I can't be perfectly happy. Nobody could who has red hair. I don't mind the other things so much -- the freckles and the green eyes and my skinniness… But I CANNOT imagine that red hair away. I do my best… It will be my lifelong sorrow.”
As she read the words, my face starting burning and I had that horrible feeling of everyone’s eyes planted on me. I remember thinking, “Why would she do this? Out of all the passages, why this one?” I was a sad ginger that day.
When I was in my teens, I hated my hair color even more. As a young teen, I read in Cosmopolitan that only 2% of men prefer redheads. Apparently, studies have shown that most men are attracted to brunettes. So I started fiddling with my hair color. I saved my allowance and when Sun-In didn’t give me the results I wanted, I used hydrogen peroxide. Straight up.
When my grandma saw what I had done, she clutched her chest and said, “You look like Mae West!” I had officially done it: I was blond.
It wasn’t until I had my first child that I started to embrace my natural red hair. I must have wanted to look like I was related to my baby or something. I started to embrace being a redhead. I finally felt comfortable with being kind of different. I have two little ginger kids -- how could I continue to shun the hair color that they are so cutely blessed with?
I’m still prone to changing my hair color when I get bored, and sometimes I throw in a few blonde highlights for dimension –- but overall, I love being a ginger now. My therapist/life coach referred to me as a fiery redhead last week, and she’s right. I’m not meant to be anything other than red.
So, on National Kick a Ginger Day, do me a favor: hug a ginger. They’ve probably been kicked enough.