Authentic Ginger "Ambassador Julie"
Julie from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada
Neither of my parents have red hair, so when I was born as their second child with ginger locks it was a shock! I didn’t know I was different when I was very young, especially because my older brother had bright red hair as well. My parents loved that we had a unique look that drew in lots of positive attention. We were always having people coming up to us commenting on our hair. That still happens often and though I have never minded it, I always find it funny when people ask if I know someone they know who has red hair- as if it’s an exclusive club where we all meet!
As a child of the 90s I felt connected to the few redheads on TV I was watching. Anne of Green Gables, Pipi Longstocking and the Little Mermaid were my favourite and I loved that I looked like them. For most of my younger years, I was the only girl with red hair in my class and though I knew that, it didn’t bother me. I don’t think I paid much attention to it at the time…mostly I just wanted it pulled back so it was out of my way for sports!
In my early teen years my self-perception changed. I grew quickly and hadn’t discovered any product to tame my curls besides dippity-do. I changed from being a quirky, carefree child into a self-conscious, very tall, pale teenager who was topped off with frizzy red hair that didn’t help me blend in at all. I spent most of my teen years wishing I looked like everyone else. There are so many photos from those days where I am literally crouching down beside my friends to look smaller. I felt I could control my height more than my flaming hair which I was not allowed to dye (but wanted to desperately). Blending in was my biggest goal, and I felt my hair was mostly to blame for making me stand out.
As I matured into a young adult I was still struggling with confidence, but starting to come out of my awkward teen shell. I went away to university and found a new circle of friends, three of which had red hair! I loved chatting with them about some of the redhead struggles. The constant sunscreen application, how makeup never matches our fair skin tone or how we can’t hide embarrassment because we blush incredibly easily! We’d also laugh about comments people would make to us about “having no soul” (thanks South Park), or asking if we have “that fiery redhead temper” (we don’t all have a temper, not more than any other hair colour!), or telling us that “redheads are becoming extinct” (we’re not by the way). It was these connection with other redheads and perhaps maturity that helped me learn to appreciate the beauty in having unique hair, and finally stand tall in my own skin again.
It is so nice to have a new network of gingers across the globe to connect with and share our stories through this project! Apparently, redheads make up only 2% of the world’s population, so making these connections isn’t always easy, but is so important! I was lucky to never experience any bullying, but had a very hard time feeling like I fit in due to my hair colour. It was the connection with others that made a world of difference for me and helped me learn to love my ginger hair! So, to all of my redheaded friends out there, know that your unique hair is part of your story but it does not define you! It is just hair and you are so much more than that!