Gingerism

Not a day in my life goes by without someone commenting on my hair. Women in grocery stores exclaim, “I always wished for a redheaded daughter!” Men stroke their balding heads while reminiscing about their ginger glory days. Drunken girls at the bar come tell me how pretty my hair is and ask to touch it. People at work tell me that “my type is going extinct.”

My type. Is going. Extinct.

I’m sorry, but no. I am not an endangered species. I am not on the animal watch list. I am a real live human being with thoughts and feelings and opinions. And a soul, but I don’t want to get into South Park references. I also happen to have red hair, but that shouldn’t be a focal point. I don’t go around touching girls’ blonde locks and telling them how I long for color like theirs. I don’t tell guys that I like a milk chocolate rather than a tree bark brunette.

A lot of people have wildly preconceived notions about redheads.
“You must be Irish.”
“Are you an angry person?”
“Are your parents redheads?”
“Where did you get that color?”
“You’d better marry a redhead!”

It’s certainly not from a bottle, lady. And no, I am not angry by nature. I am passionate. And yes, I am Irish, but red hair is actually a Scottish trait, if you can call it that. My grandmother was a redhead, and because it is a recessive gene that skips a generation, my siblings and I happened to get it next. I also generally don’t choose my romantic partners based on hair color, just like you probably wouldn’t.

Some people have such strong opinions about my hair color. They either “absolutely love” or “really hate” redheads. They either “would never date a redhead” or “really hope they can marry” one. I think that’s hilarious. I love a lot of people and hate a lot of people, but I don’t think any of it is based on hair.

And yet, some attention is nice. I do sometimes like to be the person that someone asks for help in a bookstore I don’t work in, because “I look like I belong there,” though this is usually just because I stick out to an undiscerning eye. I am recognizable and memorable. My parents used to joke that they had redheads because we’re “easy to find in a crowd.”

But here’s the thing. Because people think redheads are feisty and sassy, they are automatically bitter and sarcastic towards me, assuming that I’ll immediately snap back at them. I mean, I do a lot of the time, but I don’t think it’s because of my hair. I know plenty of redheads that are quiet and shy.

I find that a lot of people also find me unapproachable. I seem intimidating because my hair makes me seem intense.

How do people automatically think these things, based solely on my hair color? I’m just a girl. I can be shy, I can be loud, I can be angry and intense and passionate and approachable and nice. I am just me.

That’s just it, though. The fact that I am a ginger is part of my life. But I don’t think it should define me. I do identify with it, but I don’t want it to become me. I’m not “some redhead.” I am Erin.

So no, I don’t really care whether my kids have red hair or not. I’m really just over it.