The horrors of being a red-head in high school

By Ash Goddard

As soon as I became a teenager suddenly the colour of my hair became a burden, and at times an embarrassment. Photo / 123RF
As soon as I became a teenager suddenly the colour of my hair became a burden, and at times an embarrassment. Photo / 123RF

Being a red head as a very young kid was not actually all that bad (besides every second older person patting me on the head and saying "you can't buy that in a bottle!").

As a child you are oblivious to the things that we sadly start to judge people on when we become older: hair colour, weight, height, whether someone is "pretty" or "ugly".

These things just don't matter when you are young. When people called my hair red I would sternly tell them "IT'S GOLDEN!" - I was proud to be unique.

But that all changes when I reached high school. As soon as I became a teenager suddenly the colour of my hair became a burden, and at times an embarrassment.

I remember vividly my first year of high school, not yet 13 years old, and a group of boys who were five years older than me seeking me out every lunch time, just to run circles around me, pointing and yelling "RANGA RANGA RANGA" continuously.

At the time I didn't want to look weak and show how upsetting it was, so I would awkwardly laugh and pretend like it didn't faze me.

It was humiliating to say the least and it's stuck in my memory since. Every day brought new insults, and it got to the stage when I started to dye my hair so that I wouldn't be different to everyone around me.

I tried every colour under the sun, they all looked ridiculous but I didn't care - it was something other than red - something "normal".

Now I am 26 - and I am so proud of my hair colour. I have learnt that people will always have negative things to say about people, but that shouldn't make you change who you are.

I have grown my hair long in order to finally cut off the remaining bits of dyed blonde that lingered at the tips, and now when people compliment my hair, I don't mumble "thanks" and look down embarrassingly. I own it. Yes, it IS fabulous, thank you very much!

I think most ginger people could relate when I say that my hair colour was always used as a negative if someone wanted to insult me. "You RED HEADED b****", "Stupid GINGER", "F***ing fanta pants" etc etc. I absolutely adore feminist writer Clementine Ford, and I giggle at the ridiculous abuse she encounters daily. "GINGER FEMINAZI!" "RED HEADED MAN HATER!" It makes me laugh because now I see red hair as being special and unique, and not an insult at all.

When my cousin Mia was born and her red hair started to emerge, I couldn't have been more excited. She had joined me in the elite Ginger Club! In saying that, it would be naive for me to believe that she won't experience some of the bullying, shame and embarrassment I did when I was younger, just because of her hair colour.

That's why when I heard about the Buderim Ginger Pride Rally in Australia earlier this year I knew we had to go. I wanted to show her that our beautiful, fiery locks should be celebrated, not hidden with hats or hair dye!

And if I'm honest it was also a chance for us to dress up and have some fun, all while celebrating inclusion, equality, and raising funds for anti-bullying.

It was the first year the event was held and seeing more than 1000 red heads show up on the day, all shapes and sizes, male and females, deep reds, strawberry blondes, curly and straight red hair - was incredible.

For Mia to look around at all these people the same as her and see how proud and happy everyone was of their red hair was truly special.

I can't wait to take her again next year, when it's hopefully bigger and redder! I wish there was a Ginger Pride Rally when I was a kid.

I hope that when Mia is older, should anyone dare to pick on her about her hair, she remembers marching in the Ginger Rally and stands her ground. Because us rangas ARE different - we are unique, beautiful and fiercely proud of our ginger manes.

- news.com.au

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