It’s rough being a majestic unicorn. I never asked to live as a ginger. Society labels me both a mystery and a mutant, but my gingerness doesn’t define me. We shouldn’t judge by the color of our skin; neither should we judge by the color of our hair. I am more than my fiery mane, yet to say my pigmentation doesn’t affect the way I live my life would be an invalid statement. My hair comes with challenges, but don’t believe every stereotype you hear about gingers.
First off, know that less than 2% of the population sports a genuine crimson crown. The rest either dye their hair or envy our auburn locks—as least that’s how I imagine it. To those who dye their hair, I refer to as “box gingers.” The “organic gingers” are natural like me.
You can find organic gingers in most European countries or the Americas. Scotland boasts the densest population at 13% with Ireland heeling at 10%. The United States contains its fair number of redheads as well, which is where I live.
I have cool hair, not a cool accent. Sorry to disappoint.
As a recessive gene, red hair only reveals itself in a child who receives the “ginger gene” from both parents. My parents obviously blessed me with both despite being brunette. Surprise! Many people carry half the ginger gene without even knowing it. Undercover unicorns roam the earth, and you could very well be one of them.
My rosy locks correlate with a small amount of melanin, which is the pigmentation of the skin. This lack of melanin results in a pale complexion susceptible to easy burning and bruising. Research shows that gingers also respond differently to pain and other sensations like heat and cold. Experts say we are more sensitive to stimuli and require more anesthesia during surgery.
I beg to differ. After my abdominal surgery, my head felt like a bobbling bowling ball and my anchored lungs forgot how to breathe. Fully gaining consciousness and teaching my tongue to talk sucked six hours from my life.
I had quite enough anesthesia.
On a different note, I would admit to bruising quite easily. Just look at me too intently and I’ll bruise. I remember jumping in bed one night, and my thigh grazed the edge of my opened dresser. I wailed in pain. The result—a murky bruise swelled to the size of a loaf of bread. It stayed for an entire month. I frequently scan my arms for little, painful surprises and always discover plenty. The winter months makes it easier to hide my ugly patches, the result of everyday scuffles.
Summer is wonderful, but the sun is my worst enemy. If I’m outside without any sunblock, I’m toast—literally. I need to lather on my 100+ SPF, hide in the shade, and don a sombrero to enjoy any quality time outdoors without risk of the painful afterward. Then I might last an hour without repercussions.
Aside from fair skin, people rarely consider the practical problems of being ginger. For instance, having red hair complicates my fashion choices. Red is a bold color after all. I must avoid wearing bright reds, yellows, or oranges to prevent clashing. I can wear a dark crimson if feeling especially bold, but nothing lighter. I also can’t wear pale hues like soft peach, baby blue, or any shade of white. Against my snowy skin, I simply wash away. Aquas, teals, purples, and greens best compliment my candy-apple locks, and it shows in my wardrobe.
I’ll admit, I’m not very good at remembering names. Most people aren’t. But the pressure to remember only builds when you’re a ginger. As a ginger, I obviously look different from the Jessicas and Britneys of the world. My hair makes it easy for others to remember my name, and I feel guilty when I cannot reciprocate.
Occasionally, people will mix me up with other gingers. This gets on my nerves. Make us brunette and people suddenly won’t get us confused. We are different. And, no, we aren’t all distant cousins. We are ginger—not synonymous with underground cult member. Keep your gingers straight, and you’ll gain immense respect and adoration from us.
On another note, my hands suffer from notorious phalange freeze (NPF), a disease I just invented. This complicates formal introductions. Handshakes lead to the shocked, inevitable comment: “Geez! Your hands are cold.” My hands turn purple when they’re cold and, on rare occasion, red when they’re warm. Whether this is due to my flaming hair or my abnormally long fingers, I guess I’ll never know.
Dark Myths of Gingerhood
According to gingerhood mythology, I do not have a soul. News to me. Thanks to historical prejudice and an unfortunate South Park episode, we gingers continue to suffer mockery. In prior times, people hunted us and burned us at the stake thinking we were Satan-worshiping witches. Some surmised from our pale complexion that we change into vampires at death. Still others believed we were conceived through unclean sex, thus exposed in the color of our hair.
Nowadays, people ridicule us with ridiculous and offensive nicknames: carrot top, ketchup, fire extinguisher, hothead, leprechaun, fire crotch. Luckily, I’ve never suffered much ridicule. My grandma affectionally calls me “Red” and professors call me out in class, but I know others suffer adamant bullying. I ask that you consider the implications of a nickname before labeling a ginger.
We are more than our hair color.
Hotheadedness probably stands as the most common misconception about gingers. I understand red is associated with anger, but it also correlates with passion and love. Do I have a temper? Sure, we all get angry at times. I was quite stubborn as a child, but don’t all children sport an attitude at some point? Don’t call me hotheaded because of my flaming hair. It’s irrational.
Anyone who tells you gingers are a dying breed is either uneducated or out of their mind. Although we comprise a small percentage of the population, thousands of people carry the ginger gene. The probability of become extinct is slim to none, but that doesn’t make us any less special.
Do you have a ginger friend? Appreciate them! Do you lack a ginger friend? Befriend one! Do you want to repopulate the gingers? Marry one! Even if you don’t naturally grow scarlet tresses, you may introduce another majestic unicorn to the world.
Or become a box ginger. We won’t judge—not too much anyway.