Life As A Redhead - Living with Red Hair
Fantastic Famous Redheads!!
I am a Redhead
One wouldn’t typically think his or her hair color would determine many aspects of his or her life. However, if you are born with red hair it is the norm. Though red hair is much more accepted by today’s standards, that has not always been the case. I am still considered young in many circles, except to my kids, and in my short time I have seen redheads move from undesirable to mildly desirable to modeling in Victoria’s Secret catalogs! As the general redhead has moved steadily towards popularity, I have grown to love my own hair color and even to accept the stereotypes that come with having red hair. As you read further you will learn how my Mother dealt with red hair in the 1950’s, how I’ve come to appreciate my appearance as a carrot-top, the questions my hair color has produced, and other neat tidbits of information about redheads. I will also include some of my favorite redhead celebrities that kept me going through the redheaded-stepchild phase of my life (more on that later).
Before I go any further, I want to describe my family a little more to explain my fascination with red hair. My Mother, born in the late 1940’s, arrived with a head full of curly red hair. Nobody could explain from where the hue had originated since both parents and all four grandparents sported chestnut locks. Still, here was this baby with flames for hair and the bluest eyes you’ve ever seen. My Mother was often taunted unmercifully about her red hair. On one occasion, she was riding in the back of the family pickup truck when a group of teenagers pulled alongside her. The driver, who was a stranger to my Mother, yelled that he would rather be dead than have hair of red. I can only imagine the embarrassment and upset such a statement would cause a child. Especially when that child already felt as though she didn’t fit into her family, because she looked nothing like the rest of them. A scenario that proves that point occurred when my Mother was 4 or 5 years old and a stranger asked her where she got her beautiful red hair. My Mom had heard it so often that she believed it when she replied, “From the Milkman.” I bet my grandparents were mortified to hear such a response! Lesson learned there – be careful what you tell your children. Red hair was so uncommon when my Mom was growing up that she was the only kid in her school to have it, out of roughly 500 other students.
Myself on the other hand, well, I knew exactly who to blame for my red hair. I look just like my Mom, except for the blue eyes bit. My eyes are very much green. For the longest time I didn’t even realize how redheads were viewed by the general public. I took red hair as a common trait since my Mom and I both had it. It was not until about 3rd or 4th grade that I realized I was not in the majority. For some reason or another, close to the end of 3rdgrade, my school principal took a real liking to me. He thought it was cute to call me carrot-top any time he saw me. “Hey, carrot-top, having a good day?” “Hey, carrot-top, how’s your brother?” I hated it because it made me feel singled out and it made my friends laugh. That was when I started searching for other redheads in my school, to no avail. I realized I was the only redhead in my elementary school and started to feel like a misfit. Add to it that I was in the minority with freckles and my self-esteem took a real hit. In my mind, I was the ugly duckling. I started wearing my big brother’s ball caps to hide my hair and I stayed out of the sun as much as possible, to minimize freckling. When I look back at old photographs, I realize it must have driven my Mom crazy because I was such a cute kid and I dressed so funny! On the other hand though, maybe the minimal sun exposure is why I look younger than my age. In junior high I was a little jealous of the blondes and brunettes but finally got a little peace of mind when I found – wonder of all wonders – more redheads! Heck, I even became best friends with one of them. And for some reason, I found her red hair and freckles adorable. Then I had an epiphany – maybe mine were cute too! I was slowly becoming more confident in my appearance but still longed for anything other than red hair. I was incredibly shy and tried to blend into the background as much as possible, but that red hair was like a beacon in the night just begging for attention. Plus I was now being subjected to the stereotypes and myths that come with having red hair. If I got angry my feelings were trivialized and blamed on my hair, I was asked at an early age about my sexual habits, and was even lumped into a category seen as taboo – ‘the redheads’ – as if I were from another planet. For instance, I was told by one of my best friends (at the time) that her cousin said, and I quote, “I feel sorry for your friend even though I haven’t met her yet. All redheads are ugly.” Ouch! Some friend she was to tell me that, huh? Even after all these years, that comment stings a little. Another time when I was 12 I was asked by a complete stranger, and he was a grown man no less, if the curtains matched the carpet. I had no idea what he meant and just watched him walk off laughing. Man did I get sick of hearing that one over the years. I still hear it today and my reply is, “If you really want to know, you’ll have to visit my website at www.getalife dot edu. Not only did complete strangers request odd information, but older boys started making comments about the stereotypical nymphomaniac redhead. They always wanted to know if I was as wild in bed as they had heard most redheads are. I never answered that question. To be honest, I didn’t know how to answer it way back when and I still don’t know how to answer it today. It wasn’t until after high school that I truly appreciated my red hair. I realized that I liked looking different, that all the attention wasn’t really all that bad, that all of a sudden people were choosing to color their hair red, and that beautiful redheads were popping up all over the place in the media. I know, I know. I gave my hair way too much power and consideration. But I was painfully shy and I didn’t like the attention my hair drew to me and I didn’t like being defined by my hair. Today, I love being defined by my hair and I appreciate being different. I now have three daughters and not one of them has my red hair. That is both a disappointment and a relief to me. It is a relief because I won’t have boys propositioning my daughters with statements like, “I heard all redheads are wild in the sack, can I test that theory?” It is a disappointment because I hoped to pass on my legacy. But hey, there is always the hope of grandchildren, right?
Redheads Finally Get the Recognition They Deserve!
Today, redheads are seen as attractive, alluring, seductive, and a little mysterious to more people. Their beauty is gracing the pages of magazines for Target ads, the pages of Victoria’s Secret catalogs, and other media outlets as celebrities. Don’t get my wrong; redhead celebrities have been aplenty for quite some time now. My Mom’s favorite redhead celebrity is Dorothy Fuldheim and my all-time favorite redhead actress is Ann Margaret, who is as beautiful today as she was back when. Don’t believe me? Just watch Grumpy Old Men and you will see what I mean. Another favorite of mine is Tori Amos, a truly talented and beautiful artist. For more popular redheads through the ages, visit Redheads: Myths, Legends, and Famous Red Hairby Cristoph Reilly. The page is a very well written collection of the various myths and urban legends surrounding redheads. Need more motivation to visit the page? It also contains numerous photographs depicting sultry, beautiful redheads throughout the ages who have been loved by many. But before you go, read further for humorous tales and redhead inspiration and woe.
Did You Really Just Ask Me That?!
I try to keep a sense of humor about all the odd questions I get asked that are in reference to my red hair. Below are just a few examples of what I hear.
- The infamous “Does the carpet match the drapes?” Come on mush-brain, try to be a little more creative than that!
- The alienating, “What’s wrong with your hair? Does it hurt?” This was asked by a little boy in the library one day. It didn’t bother me one bit but man was his Mom embarrassed!
- The haunting, “My Mom told me only witches have red hair and green eyes. Are you a witch?” This one was actually asked by someone I considered a friend. I simply told her yes and walked away.
- The blood-boiling, “You have red hair, do you also have the famous redhead temper?” I always answer no and that I am very even-tempered unless you mess with my children. And to be honest, I don’t think that’s a redhead thing – it’s a Mom thing.
The Welcome Wagon
I was born and raised in Ohio and still live in Ohio today. During the summer months, my Mom always took my brother and me to Lake Erie for camping, fishing, and swimming. Since I was very small, my Mom always claimed her red hair made a perfect bull’s-eye for the seagulls and ducked for cover whenever they flew over. One summer, while swimming off Kelly’s Island, a friendly neighborhood seagull decided to welcome my Mom to the island with a perfectly placed poo. Bulls-eye!
South Park’s Soul Insight
If you are like my husband, you enjoy the adult cartoons such as South Park and The Family Guy. My husband likes to watch South Park on Comedy Central, and yes, sometimes I get to watch it with him. The last episode I saw involved the main characters hunting down redheads in the town to save the townsfolk. On the show, all freckle-faced, redheads were referred to as ‘ginger kids’ who have no soul because of their appearance. Of course my husband found this episode hilarious. Now anytime I’m being ornery my husband tells me I have no soul.
Blondes DO NOT Have More Fun
I know because I tested the theory! A few months back I decided to try adding highlights to my hair. I’ve never colored my hair before and my close approaching 30th birthday prompted the need for change. I went to a nearby day spa courtesy of my husband and I loved the end result. My hair was still red with a few light blonde highlights. When my roots started to grow out I went to get the highlights redone. Except this time I cheap’ed out and went to a smaller chain salon. I just didn’t feel right spending so much money on my hair again. BAD mistake because the girl fried and bleached my hair. Then she had to cut almost all of it off to try to make it look better! I instantly became a bleached blonde with a horrible haircut…ugh. My hair grows very fast so the cut didn’t take long to grow out. But I was still left with very blonde hair for quite some time. Personally, I had more fun as a redhead than as a blonde. Now that my red is finally growing back in I am never, ever going to highlight my hair again. I would much rather be seen as a carrot-top than as just another dumb blonde. I mean no offense to the blondes. All three of my daughters have blonde, blonde hair. It’s just that now I realize how often blondes get teased about being dumb.
Foot In Mouth for Dinner Anyone?
My parents are divorced. My Mom remarried later to the man who is now my stepdad. Therefore I am indeed a redheaded-stepchild. Whenever people use the phrase about beating someone like a redheaded-stepchild, I explain my situation and pretend to be very offended. Then I watch as the other person tries to explain his or her statement, usually making it sound worse in the end. I don’t really get bothered by the statement; I just amuse myself with the reactions. Eventually I come clean and explain that I am joking.
Battle of the Exes
My favorite story of them all was when my ex-husband told me he’d never date another redhead again and that I had ruined him because I was so mean. Yah, as if all the problems with the marriage stemmed from my hair! I can see the court documents on that one now. Picture it with me now:
Judge: What is the basis of this divorce – irreconcilable differences?
Ex-husband: No, Your Honor, red hair.
Oh, well. Maybe it made him feel better to place the blame somewhere other than on himself. My fellow redheads of the world, you can all thank me for that one later. My hair and I agree that the misplaced blame is well worth saving all of you.
Now, don’t forget to check out that web page with all the hot pictures of redheads at Redheads: Myths, Legends, and Famous Red Hair - and thank you for reading.