I’ve spent the better part of my life hiding under giant hats, but now I’m ready to bare myself to the world. The timing is unfortunate, what with giant hats being all over the Autumn/Winter catwalks, but you can’t have everything. For the first time in my life, I can say quite confidently that it’s safe to be ginger. Not only is it safe, but it’s good. Being ginger is finally a positive!
Oh, you may think I’m being dramatic, but my past contains nothing but trauma and woe. I actually wrote a novel called My Ginger Teenage Years of Horror (strictly autobiographical), but my agent said that it was so harrowing that she was ready to claw her eyeballs out by the final chapter. I don’t want anyone’s self-induced blindness to weigh on my conscience, so I chose not to publish it.
However, it’s impossible to write about the new orange-positive attitude of the world without first recounting how it used to be. Don’t be fooled by my light-hearted tone. As I type these words, milky tears run down my cheeks.
My first experience of hair prejudice occurred when someone called me a Duracell. Because I’m a natural optimist, I took this nickname to mean that I was a powerful individual with an electric presence. A few days later, a classmate told me that ginger people don’t have souls. I patiently explained that no-one has a soul, as souls don’t exist. The metaphysical concept came about through the refusal of society to accept human mortality. Before leaving class, I advised my peer to read Camus, who would help him face up to his arbitrary singular existence. Unfortunately, my thick skinned demeanour could not last forever. There is no way that I could have taken ‘period head’ as a compliment. It was embarrassing when people asked me about the colour of my pubic hair. It was frustrating to be dismissed as a ‘stupid ranga’. ‘Kick a ginger day’ really hurt, in more ways than one.
The only other ginger female at my school was in the year above. I hoped that she would become some kind of advisor or mentor, the Mr Miyagi to my Karate Kid. Instead she terrorised me, terrified that I would steal her position as the token lady-ginge. It wasn’t pleasant, but at least I learnt an important lesson from her, namely that red hair shouldn’t be gelled back into a side ponytail. I tried finding solace from the Pre Raphaelites, but paintings can be awfully silent. Besides, it was an art movement that took place over 200 years ago. Times were different back then. People were nicer.
But then, after a period of misery, something changed. Strangers started complimenting me on my hair. This had happened when I was younger, but only because I was cute in a troll-doll kind of way. When I watched red-carpet events on TV, I began seeing celebs with hair that matched the floor they walked upon. I refused to get my hopes up, and dismissed Lily Cole’s Vogue cover as a fleeting fad. But after four years of consistent denial, I’m ready to stop playing the victim and acknowledge the prevailing acceptance and love for those who shine brighter than the sun.
I reckon ginger celebrities are the main reason for the current ginger love. Back in the day, Marilyn Monroe dyed her blonde despite being born with an adequate mop of auburn hair. Now, ladies know that they don’t need to reach for the bleach to be sexy. I’m sure you already have your own private list of favourite redheads pinned to your fridge, but if by some bizarre twist of fate you haven’t yet got round to making one, then have a look at mine.
First off, Bree from Desperate Housewives. The series may have finished a while ago but I’m struggling to move on. Now, apart from our hair colour, Bree and I are worlds apart. What crazy writer (SPOILER) decided that she would end her days as a Republican politician? Come on Bree, don’t you know that those guys are trying to steal women’s vaginas? Nevertheless, I can always overlook moral issues when it comes to fashion, and I really do love Bree’s sophisticated style. If it wasn’t for her, I would never have known how well my hair would go with a cream silk shirt.
My next favourite ginger is Florence, from Florence and the Machine. She’s not a natural redhead, but actually dyes her hair because she likes the way it looks! She’s another snappy dresser, as well as a woman who knows how to belt out a fine song.
Finally, there’s Ron Weasley, because he makes it acceptable for boys to be ginger. I can whine all I want, but redheaded boys have always had it tougher than me. They’re dismissed as nerds, and no cream silk shirts can change that. When I was sixteen, I got my first proper boyfriend, who, by some kind of misfortune, happened to be the only other ginger in my year at school. I worried about our future. We’ll be slaughtered for our love, I thought. A lone ginger is all well and good, but when the minorities join forces, people sniff out a revolution and go into destroy mode! Thankfully, this never happened. We occasionally got funny looks from strangers, but that’s because they thought we were brother and sister, and no one likes to see public displays of incest.
To prove my ginger pride, I recently hennaed my hair. The result is blinding, but not in a clawing-eyes-out kind of way. Sometimes people claim that my hair is Titian, copper or auburn, but I’m happy to be plain old ginger.
Written by Phoebe Eccles