In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I asked my youngest child to write this week’s column, for an obvious reason. She and my oldest daughter, Maryl, have bright red hair. My lovely wife is also a red head, so I’m surrounded by beautiful red heads. Back in the day, even I had red hair. I hope you enjoy her column:
Growing Up Ginger
Growing up ginger is not like growing up brunette or blonde or even strawberry blonde. Growing up ginger presents an entirely different set of advantages and disadvantages.
I was a shy kid growing up. My earliest memories include me hiding behind my family members’ legs in the middle of the grocery store to get away from the strangers who tried to touch my hair. As a young kid, I was always told to keep my hands to myself, so it completely befuddled me as to why these adults would feel the need to touch my hair. Now as a seventeen-year-old, I understand that my bright red hair attracts old ladies in grocery stores like a lamp attracts a moth.
As a seventeen-year-old, I do not have much wisdom, yet I have strangers stop and tell me their life story. The one instance that I vividly remember is the time I was walking in Lowe’s; a lady saw me and instantly started up a conversation about my hair. Next thing I know, she has walked the entire premises of Lowe’s with her telling me about her children and grandchildren as I politely tried to cue that it was time to leave.
Not everyone stops me for long, but there are very few times I walk out of the house and do not get a comment on my hair. Whether it’s people telling me that I should never dye it or asking me if I have put on sunscreen in summer, people love to tell me about my hair and all the conditions that come with it.
They are right about one thing; a major disadvantage is the intense sunburns. My Dad was, of course, religious about my sunblock application every time I stepped out of the house, but my friends’ parents were not so much. It seems as if every single time I walked out of the house as a kid without sunscreen on, the next day my skin would match my hair.
Although, an advantage of the fair skin that comes along with being a ginger is the beautiful freckles that appear and fade with each passing season. Most teenagers get tan in the summer, but my version of a tan is my freckles getting darker and more plentiful.
Of course, the biggest disadvantage of being a ginger is not having a soul! How could I almost forget about that one? The Internet credits this urban legend to a South Park episode in 2005, but my dad tells me he received the same jokes as a kid, so I guess the Internet can give false information! With a bit more digging, I discovered the prejudice against gingers dates to the medieval times; the red hair was associated with Satan.
While I know I am not connected to Satan because of my red hair, I do get a good laugh when people I have known for years suddenly reach the epiphany that my eyebrows and eyelashes match my hair!
Being a ginger is not inherently common in Middle Georgia, but I love the journey. In fact, while less than two percent of the world has red hair, and even less than that have red hair and blue eyes together, I have been lucky enough to grow up as a blue-eyed ginger and appreciate everything that comes with it. Whether it be compliments from strangers or my freckles, I will never take my uniqueness for granted.