Authentic Ginger Ambassador "Suzie Sims-Fletcher"

MC1R! Mutant Genes – UNITE! [fist bump, exploding fingers] 

Finally. Science acknowledges what WE have always known – gingers are special. Yes, we need more anesthesia. Yes, we feel pain differently. And, yes, people notice us. (Hey, Red!) 

From as early as my mom can remember, she wanted red-haired babies - and she got them. At 18 months apart, everyone who saw us thought my older brother Bill and I were the cutest little red-haired twins, but we weren’t... and he let them know it, every chance he got. It wasn’t easy for him – being a redhead. The “Freckle Face Strawberry” and “carrot top” and “Bozo” taunts never bothered me like they did him. I was lucky. For me, my hair was ....normal. I wore it in long, long braids (still do) and it was just part of who I was. People always commented and always wanted to touch it. I remember in 1st grade some big kids, probably 4th graders, grabbing my braids and asking if my mom dyed my hair*. What?! In first grade?! (*But, my mom almost let my brother dye his hair: brown.) 

In 2nd grade, I was Pippi in a school production and my mom wove a wire coat hanger into my hair to achieve the trademark look. In 8th grade, I played Princess Rose Violet in a flowing pink gown and someone said, “Redheads don’t wear pink!” “Well,” my mom said, “this princess does!” This kind of support was the foundation for my becoming a teacher as well as my ongoing participation in performing and costuming*. My mantra: If they are going to look, I’ll give them something to look at! (*My brother joined the military.) 

Today, at six feet tall, still wearing my ginger locks well below my (ahem!) derriere, I still give them something to look at. My style is all my own – with a hint of whimsy and a dash of flamboyance and a good shake of glitter. If there is a special occasions – hair up, or down, in French braids or bun - I am excited for it. For 15 years I have floated on the boardwalk in the Coney Island Mermaid Parade; shown off extravagant homemade bonnets in The Easter Parade; and crafted fanciful costumes for The Village Halloween Parade. Truth is, event or not, every day presents an opportunity for a new look. (... or looks.) 

Now, my two baby gingers are all grown up and I hope they felt some of the same unique- normalcy that I did. Whenever I see a little red-head, I give them a big smile, a knowing glance, and sometimes even a friendly, “Hey, red!” After all, we gingers** are in a special club, with (finally acknowledged) superpowers, and other people notice us - as they should. 

MC1R! Mutant Genes – UNITE! [fist bump, exploding fingers] 

(**In college, when I arrived at Durham University, in England, someone with a clipboard said to me with a roll of his eye, “Let’s guess, your name is Ginger.” The brown haired girl who’d traveled over with me said, “No, I’m Ginger.” They were confused and that baffled us– we’d never heard “ginger” used for “redhead” before.)

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