Brib's Authentic Story
Growing up as a ginger in the small province of Prince Edward Island, Canada, I was not a stranger to the phrase, “Well If it isn’t Anne of Green Gables,” or “Look, it’s a little Anne!”
Of course, I also grew up with the typical “is that your natural hair colour?” and “never dye it” comments, but I never felt any shame for my ginger hair. I loved the attention it brought me, I thrived in the spotlight.
Something that I would say makes my story unique, however, is that contrary to many children who got teased for the redness of their hair, I got teased for the LACK of redness in my hair. My parents and adults around me always told me that my hair was beautiful and red, but when I got into school around other kids, I was compared to children who’s hair was redder than mine. I was told I was inferior as a redhead because my hair wasn’t “red enough.”
I remember a specific example in Grade 3, where at one point, we were discussing the colours of our hair. I said “mine is red!”, to which the kids laughed, and said “your hair isn’t red at all.”
This shook me, obviously, because how could they not see what I had been told was on my head my entire life?
To reply to that comment, after my pause of surprise, I remembered that my mother had told me that my hair had many highlights that shone in different kinds of lighting. So, I replied with what she would say: “In different lights, it shows more of a red colour!” To which the kids replied, in a sarcastic tone, “Yeah, maybe a RED light.”
This sparked confusion in me from a young age, and even some of my family members who figured out that I didn’t want to be teased for my lack of red hair, would purposefully comment on it as a joke, saying things like, “Oh look, your hair is getting blonder!” Or “your hair isn’t as red as it once was.”
Of course, these comments however brought back old memories of school which would reduce me to tears.
I wished my hair was as bright red as Anne of Green Gables. I wished my hair stood out more, and that people could see that I was, in fact, a redhead! So, I decided I was going to try my best to make it redder.
At 12 years old I started using cranberry juice to try and accentuate my red tones. I used colour enhancing shampoos, conditioners, I wore complementary coloured clothes, but most of all, I started to fear the sun. I feared that it would lighten my hair to blonde, and I constantly hid my head from it. Using hats, umbrellas, or any piece of shade I could find. And, because I did this for so long, the sun is still something I hide from to this day simply out of habit!
This pattern continued, where family members, strangers, and friends would comment something about the redness in my hair fading, and I would try to refresh the colour again. I would describe my hair as red, and they would counter it with a comment on how it’s actually strawberry blonde, or very lightly red.
In a turn of events however, around this time is when I began discovering and identifying with the word “ginger.”
It was a term that when used to describe my hair, others didn’t butt in and counter it. It was a term that encompassed the full capacity of colour in my hair, a type of reddish orange, with many different shades, and not just in red lights.
This one word has made such a positive difference in my life, as silly and as insignificant as it may sound, but it is the one word that has lead me to accept my hair as it is, and has helped me to love it, and to stop trying to turn it into something else.
I am a ginger, and I am learning to love my hair for everything that it is.
-Brib- (Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Canada)