On having red hair

July 31, 2007


Being born into a world of yellow, brown and black haired people isn’t easy. From birth, you get more attention than you could ever want. Some good, some bad. But even the good attention becomes an annoyance, while the bad attention is occasionally a great source of amusement. Regardless, redheads are a minority. Out of an entirely Caucasian sample of 10,000 people, a mere 345 are redheads. And here in Vancouver, it would seem to me that Asians are the majority, with a large melange of other races making up another significant chunk of the population. It’s entirely possible that redheads are the smallest minority in this city. With that assumption in mind, I’m going to treat the redhead as a separate race. Laugh it up, whitey.

To have red hair is both a blessing and a curse. It boasts some great advantages while simultaneously providing tremendous grief to its bearer. How could the gift of such uniqueness–to be the rarest-looking person around–manifest itself in such vexation? Well, just ask Prince Harry, Carrot Top, or better yet, Rocky Dennis.
Instead of blaming it on intelligent design, my parents, Vikings, or thalidomide and turning to self-mutilation for solace, I’ve decided to face the issue and break down the bad and the good of having red hair.

Without further ado, The Bad:

1) The vast lexicon of cruel schoolyard taunts that haunt you at least into your late 20s–Red, Big Red, Little Red, Ginger, Gingie, Firecrotch, Copper Cock, Amber, Annie, Backdraft, Brindy, Burning Bush, Duracell, Torch, Testarosa, Raggedy Andy and so forth.
2) The way people stop and stare. I’m not handicapped. Nor am I belligerently screaming profanities at anything or anyone (most of the time), so please, kindly guide your beady little black eyes back to from where they came.
3) The way old ladies always try to touch your hair and say shit like “Does this come in a bottle?” while smacking the wet, moving parts of their mouths together like they’re about to mow down on a tasty treat.
4) The way children fear you and often cry at the sight of your presence. That’s ok, kids. I hate you too.
5) The way adults fear you and often cry at your presence.
5) Ghastly white, nearly-translucent skin. It’s bad enough that I have to apply SPF 45640956 in 10 minute intervals, but is it necessary to put on sunglasses anytime I remove an article of clothing?
6) Fibre-optic eyebrows. I don’t think this applies to every redhead. Just me.

And with much contrite, The Good:

1) Attention. I’ve met quite a few interesting people based solely on the fact that I have red hair. I’m grateful for it.
2) Ladies. Though the majority of women tend not to find redheads attractive, the ones who do, do so with fervor. As a result, I have a few impressive notches on my belt.
3) Getting away with murder. If I had a nickel for every time I should have had my ass beat down as a result of something I said, I’d be a very wealthy man. However, with red hair, people look at you a little differently, and because of this I’ve been very, very lucky–though exceptions certainly exist. This may have something to do with 4.
4) Intimidation. As mentioned above in my “The Bad” list, people fear redheads. I wouldn’t be surprised if this had something to do with the myth that redheads have tempers as fiery as their hair. But for whatever reason, a serious redhead is something that many think twice about fucking with.
5) Unrivalled sense of humour. Though easy, you can’t stay mad forever. And given all the bullshit us Gingies go through on a daily basis, one has to be light-hearted about it lest he find himself on the crown of his local University’s bell tower with nothing but a high powered rifle and a very expensive scope. I’m happy to report that I have a great sense of humour. It’s probably my best trait.

There are plenty more pros and cons to add to the lists, but these will suffice for now as they’ll give you at least a peek into the wonders and woes of Gingerdom. Remember, everyday is an uphill battle for us. In snow. Both ways. Instead of perpetuating the hate with your “harmless” quips and comments, try to understand the strife that is our day-to-day lives, and embrace us for our uniqueness and the greatness we offer in our friendships, relationships and professions.

I was thinking about starting an advice column called “Ask a Redhead”. You would email me questions on any topic, and I, as a redhead would answer it, to the best of my knowledge, in the most irreverent ways. It would actually have very little to do with being a redhead, and more about the great insight we can offer on a variety of topics. Think Groundskeeper Willie meets Anne Landers.


26 Responses to “On having red hair”

  1. jenn said

    you forgot about fanta pubes, that’s probably my favorite one. do they have fanta in canada? it’s orange pop for anyone who doesn’t know. baha. it’s a tough life andrew, both my brothers are ging, and i taunted them relentlessly for it.

  2. jane said

    I heard that if you sleep with a red head your offspring are more likely to have red hair even if your having another partners child. Is there any truth to this?

  3. Jane,

    What a great question! The short answer is yes, there’s truth to that.

    However, I’d like to go further into an explanation. Thus, it will be saved for the first installment of Ask a Redhead!.

  4. Cherie said

    and in response to Jane’s question, I heard if you sleep with a red head he’ll grant you three wishes! No pot of gold though..well at least not on the first night

  5. yap ploy said

    I’m a Chinese and I like to admire women with redhead. They are as cute as a doll. My wife dyes her hair maroon colour unknowingly in a way pleases me.

  6. It’s different with men though, Yap. Different game all together.

  7. Christine said

    Im A Full Redhead
    And Mine is curly
    so ive had plenty of things come my way
    but ive learned to appreciate being a redhead
    and people who make fun of us should check themselves
    and see that by them being blonde, brunette, they are just fitting in with the rest of society and not fitting in isnt really a bad thing
    i have invisible eyebrows too
    and more than my hair, i get made fun of for this
    and you know, i do my best to make my hair look good, but its hard to make eyebrows appear
    and you know, old ladies, they are just complimenting you.
    so thank them for noticing how amazing it is for you to have red hair.
    you’ll never be the same
    be proud of your red hair
    make sure people know you like it.
    then they wont make fun of you as much
    i have about 3 redhead friends, and they are all boys
    they are proud of their red hair
    you should be too

  8. Emma said

    I’m a seventeen year old English redhead.

    I agree with all the taunting you get as a child, but it seems that the bad really does turn into good.

    Suddenly everyone loves your hair and it becomes something that defines you, just because it’s so unusual, and anything thats unusual that is embraced is beautiful in my books.

    I have modelled and do model part time – and I think without my red, curly hair and porcelin skin, I wouldn’t have got any offers.

  9. Jessica said

    I am laughing my ass off reading this…I am a natural redhead and I’ve really grown to love my hair and my skin. I now get compliments all the time, but growing up was not easy! I also have non-existent eyebrows, but color them in with an eyebrow pencil. I look completely different with out make up on. I think redheads need make up to compliment their natural beauty! Redheads are so unique and we are all so lucky. To add to the list of the negative comments we get…I absolutely hate when someone says to me ,”you are so beautiful…most redheads are really ugly but you’re color is pretty!” I don’t see this as a compliment! it annoys the shit out of me!

  10. Bianca said

    I have naturally red hair and was again taunted as a child like most of you..lol
    I’m 24 now but the thing that annoys me the most is.. “Is that REALLY your hair colour? You don’t look like the typical redhead” What is that supposed to mean??
    Luckily I don’t have the really pasty skin nor a lot of freckles and my eyebrows turned out light brown but red hair is beautiful and everyone who doesn’t have red hair, wishes they did. period.

  11. Rory Morrison said

    all my genes are recessive, i have dark, fire red rair and invisable eyebrows, ghostly pale skin, blue eyes and im short.

    but this is a good thing, redhead attributes make us look pure and cool (especially when wearing black)and we have the best of both worlds as we are either steriotyped as hard fighters with bad tempers or super smart brainiacs

  12. ella said

    i’m 15 and have red hair and i like it because its unusual unique and a lovely colour i always get compliments but for every good thing that happens something bad happens so then along come the taunts and because i follow the rules i am shown up as a geek ( i have nothing against smart people) but i’m not i’m about class average so as you can imagine that only makes everything worse
    but life is hard and i know that but to me it is pure discrimination and people are being bullied because of it and that is not right
    i do have alot of patience (so i’m told) but to those of you who’s patience has run out … when people decide to notify you on the colour of your hair just think to yourself i’m glad they don’t like my hair because i can piss you of every time you see someone with red hair redheads definitely will have more fun because already i get loads of looks (good ones )

  13. ella said

    the taunts and because i follow the rules i am shown up as a geek ( i have nothing against smart people) but i’m not i’m about class average so as you can imagine that only makes everything worse
    but life is hard and i know that but to me it is pure discrimination and people are being bullied because of it and that is not right
    i do have alot of patience (so i’m told) but to those of you who’s patience has run out … when people decide to notify you on the colour of your hair just think to yourself i’m glad they don’t like my hair because i can piss you of every time you see someone with red hair redheads definitely will have more fun because already i get loads of looks (good ones )

  14. Ashley said

    I’m almost 30 an extremely proud red head. The funny thing is I’m the only one in the ENTIRE family that has red hair. My parents and grandparents have no clue where it came from (my mum must have slept with the milk man). The only thing that I want to change is my eyebrows, i was thinking of dying them a light brown or maybe copper. What do you think?


  15. M-A said

    I discovered something so fun for the red girls. I was out shopping for makeup with a group of girlfriends, one is very blonde the other medium brunette with dark eyelashes. We were trying the different colors of masquera they had. I was the only one that all the colors would show up on. My blonde friends lashes were too dark for most of it. But I found green and blue masquera and it shows up really well, and looks awesome.

  16. M-A said

    About the notches on the belt… I get hit on mostly by black and asians. Does anyone else (who lives in a very multicultural city) have this happening? I asked a couple of asian guys I dated about it and they both gave me the same excuse. They said it’s cause they usually date other asians and red heads are the most exotic to them. Blondes and brunettes are a dime a dozen they said (I agree with that one).

  17. Ami said

    I am also the only redhead in my entire family. As a child I was constantly taunted about being “ginger” and had a very bullied time at school. As a result I dyed my hair blonde when I was 18 and i suddenly got a lot more confident and learned to love my self for who I am. I am now turning 30 and feel that now is the right time to return to my roots. I am proud to be a redhead – I just wished Id known that when I was growing up.

  18. Elaine said

    I am a 72 year old Redhead, and IT IS STILL RED. Yippee!!
    In Australia we are often called “BLUE” I have never been able to fathom that one. But as lots of your posts are from young people I thought to write and tell them that your beautiful hair will only fade as you get older and I think end up a creamy white.
    Because I still have my natural colour, few people realise my actual age and think I am a lot younger, very satisfying believe me. I have a theory that because of all the teasing and rude comments we REDHEADS endure over the years we are a more compassionate group of unique individuals

  19. C said

    Ashley, I have red hair and non existant eyebrows…. I use to pencil them in but it was hard work and always went wrong so looked into dying them and I couldn’t not do it now!!! In Boots they have an eyebrow and eyelash dye treatment you pop on for a couple of mins and hey presto!

  20. mark said

    Its not good being a redhaired man in england as redheads are not liked at all ,this goes far deeper then being ajoke but real hate and deep rooted long time dislike of red heads. Ive always had a hard time getting girlfriends Iam tall and farly go looking but girls dont like gingers The girlfriends Ive had have mostly had a red head in there family ,so have had a postive image. not coco the clown only neative images of gingers

  21. jasmine said

    i have ginger hair but not bright ginger. i like it but when i get bulled it makes me reli upset. i dont mind having the hair colour. but when im older i want children but i dont want ginger hair children not because i dont like it. the reason being i dont want them going through what i did. what colour hair does my man have to have? jasmine

  22. KT said

    My boyfriend has the most gorgeous shade of red hair, unfortunately he was teased about it for many years growing up and now he dyes it.. : (
    It’s true about women who like red hair are REALLY REALLY crazy about it. If only I could convince my redhead that it’s the hottest thing in the world.

    oh well, everybody pray that he changes his mind!

  23. Pernille said

    I was never taunted as a child. I think I was too confident, I do remember the other kids wanted to touch my hair, but I always liked that. The taunting began when I attended university though, but mostly by other reds. Goldie, copperwire and my all time favorite: strawberry helmet(it rolls a little better in danish)
    Did y’all know there’s a ‘natural red head’-festival in the netherlands?

  24. Red said

    ok yeah im a redhead too but i think i have it the worst. im a RED head like hey look at me red, im 6 ft tall and a girl wich really sucks, im super shy so u know the redhair is kinda a curse to me and it seems like a turn of to guys……any1 else feel that way??? 😦

  25. john said

    i just dont get it i have dark brown eye brows and dark brown eyes and legit skin without freckles and brown armpit hair and kinda dark red hair on my head maybe it will darken with age you think?

  26. john said

    and this topic is so true i was born into a fam with black and brown hair haha and i agree with every thing you say for sure atleast we are unique funny really tough people and smart i think that is true

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