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.