Life as a ginger is quite unique and no one except another ginger can fully understand it. There is kind of this ginger nod you give one another in passing– like i see you, i feel you. Solidarity and love.
So what is it like to be ginger? Besides uniquely beautiful and rare–only 1-2% of the human population has red hair!
Being ginger means you are hyper sensitive. To everything.
You are sensitive to the sun. Your mother likely carried a bottle of sunblock in her purse to lather you in continuously throughout the day. My mom even bought me blue sunblock as a kid to try and make me feel cool (it worked). I was always the special kid wearing a big foam visor on the beach. One time on a family vacation in the Dominican Republic growing up, my mom made me, my sister, and my brother wear these god-awful safari visors and it made me so happy. Misery loves company.
Gingers are sensitive to medicine. I continue to learn more and more about my body and what it can handle. I can’t handle most pain killers. When I had my wisdom teeth removed, I threw out my painkillers because they made me jittery and nauseous. When I was two, I almost died in the hospital from a reaction to an antibiotic. I am deathly allergic to two antibiotics. Gingers require unique doses of anesthesia different from the general population because we special, yo.
Gingers’ skin will always be some shade of red. No, I don’t have scarlet fever. My face is rosy when I drink alcohol (literally one sip and hello you pretty pink cheeks). My face is rosy when I am cold, when I am hot, when I am laughing, when I am sleepy, when I am mad, when I am embarrassed- it goes on. If my face is not some shade of pink or red you should probably seek medical attention because I am likely about to faint.
Another part of the ginger experience- older people LOVE YOU. I can’t tell you how many times I have been stopped by elderly men and women just for them to make a sweet comment about my hair. When I was younger, it was not trendy or cool to have red hair. But old people made me feel loved and beautiful.
There is no right or wrong way to be ginger. Some are covered in freckles, some have none, or some-like me- sprout some freckles in the summer. There are so many different shades and textures-but a real ginger can always tell if the color is natural. My hair is not really very straight or wavy- a special in-between. And it is red/brown.
No one else in my family has red hair; it goes back generations. My brother does get a little red in his beard and for a brief moment I feel some sense of belonging in the family (hah).
My red hair has become an integral part of my identity. I love it. I didn’t always, but I do cherish it now.
Whoever you are and whatever you look like, love yo self. You are beautifully and uniquely you, my friend.
little jessica, circa ’94 or ’95. rocking the ginger bangs.