Ginger and Proud

Jordanna - Parlin, New Jersey
Entered on October 26, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe in being a red head. I can still remember kindergarten and elementary school as if I was in attendance last year. Every day I would wake up, peer into the mirror, stare at myself, and cry. My tight red curls did not match the ever-so-popular straight and blonde hair. I despised my hair, wanting at least a color change from the age of five. When I vocalized my opinion to my mother, she would simply shake her head and say, “One day, Jordanna, you will love and appreciate your red hair”. As much as I used to deny it, I can finally see the truth in that statement my mother had made.

From the fifth grade onward I loved to stand out from the crowd. I will admit however that I am guilty of following the fads; I have been grouped as a punk, a rebel and a prep but I have finally settled for the conservative niche. It has been my realization that has caused me to see that being different and an individual would not have been possible without my curly red hair. We redheads are a rare type; if I were to be stuck in a room with the same outfit on as all of the other girls, I would naturally stand out due to my hair. I did not need to follow a fad or become a member of a stereotype to achieve individuality; that was already held within the pigment of my hair.

Whether I am out at the supermarket or in church, I am constantly being approached, specifically by elders, whom compliment my hair. Their comments are repetitive yet sincere: “I would pay to have hair like that,” or “You could never get a color like yours from a bottle”. As a young adolescent I failed to find these comments flattering. Yet with years of thought, I have realized that they had a point. Adults and teenagers alike, especially recently, have been spending hundreds of dollars on the prospect of achieving red hair. That is all well and good, yet is dying your hair red truly the key to being a redhead? I would have to disagree. Along with my red hair comes a distinct personality. Redheads are infamous for their fiery disposition. Whether it is spunkiness, a sharp attitude, or just being plain witty, the personality of a redhead is just as unique as the shade of their hair. As far as I know, L’Oreal can not give you that.

Like many minorities, I endured countless years of verbal abuse. Carrot top and ginger were among the favorites that my peers used against me. Although these words have no effect on me presently, when you are young and vulnerable they hit a nerve, destroying the little confidence and esteem that you have gained. There are numerous things that I could have done to avoid this neglect; for one I could have dyed my hair and rid myself of what made me different. What held me back from doing so was the fact that I refused to let my bullies get to me; why stoop down and change myself merely because a few people disliked how I looked? I would not allow that so instead I held my head high; I embraced who I am and my appearance instead of shunning it. When those few students finally realized that they could not get to me, I was freed from the insults and was finally able to bask in what made me unique: my red hair.

One of the biggest lessons that I have learned so far in life is that being different is not necessarily a bad thing. Do not be ashamed of who you are just because you stand out from what you consider to be ‘normal’. Instead love yourself and make the best out of the cards that life gave to you. Do not hide behind dye, show the world who you truly are: red, blonde, or brunette; love the skin you are in. This is why I believe in being a redhead.