I am part of the world’s smallest minority. It’s hard to talk about this subject, most people find the idea laughable. That’s because I’m a red head.
You may be wondering what the big deal is, it’s just hair color. Well yes, I know that, but seemingly, many other people do not. There are people with black hair, brown hair, blonde hair, heck people even dye their hair blue! But what makes red hair so special. I honestly have no idea, but someone sees my hair and they act like they’ve never seen hair before.
“Ooooh how pretty,”, these strangers often coo as they caress my hair between their limpet like fingers. “Who?” they continue, invading my personal space without my permission, “Did you get this beautiful hair from?” While I, not wanting to explain basic genetics and biology to them stare open mouthed for several seconds, manage to squeak out “Um? My parents?” Not knowing what answer these personal space invaders are looking for. This exact interaction happens to me often, with different people, once a week usually, once a month if I’m lucky.
But what’s worse, and perhaps most discriminatory is when they confuse my boyfriend as my brother. Now I do have two older brothers, one who has red hair and carries a few of the same facial features as me, the other who looks more like me, but actually has brown hair. So what makes the mistake so disconcerting is that my boyfriend and I are usually asked if we are siblings when we are holding hands, lovingly staring at each other. I have never once looked or held my brothers’ hands except to cross the street. If those context clues weren’t enough, we physically look nothing alike, he’s almost a foot taller than I am with sharply differing facial features.
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So what makes these unobservant strangers so keen on the idea that we may be brother and sister? Oh they offer the answer freely when I correct their mistake, the look of shame, dismay, and sometimes even disbelief on their faces almost says it all, but instead they are quick to discount their wrong “Oh no, I really just thought…Your hair..wow. Well it’s not often you see two red heads together.”
I would bet a substantial portion of money that a brunette haired or blonde haired couple would almost never hear this question, and if they did they would probably be talking about it for the ret of their lives. This happens to my boyfriend and I almost every time we go out together, sometimes more than once in one day.
People call me extremely white just because of my hair. They assume I’m uncultured, they assume I can’t get a tan. They are incredibly wrong. My parents hail from Trinidad and Tobago, going even further back I have Venezuelan ancestry. My twin sister has brown hair and often people assume that she’s mixed, because her complexion is so dark. Growing up, I even had friends in school who, no matter how many times I told them my twin and I were in fact twins, they rejected the statement. Going so far as telling other people we were cousins, because we shared the same last name.
But further than that, I had to endure teasing and jokes throughout middle school and elementary school. I didn’t mind, I always had a quick retort to the childish name callings - ginger, gingersnap, firecrotch- I’ve heard them all. But the saddest part of all of this is how unoriginal everyone is. Very rarely do I hear someone give me a unique nickname relating to my red hair, very rarely does someone come up to me about my hair and the exchange between us is any different from anyone who came before them.
So I plead you. Think before you speak, leave your red haired friends alone. leave red haired people alone, or at the very least ask before you touch their hair. Stop making assumptions when your observation is painfully, obviously incorrect. Please, try to be original. Making fun of someone because of their hair color is so passé, it’s overdone. Thinking all red heads are related, is like thinking all brunettes are related- it’s a straight asinine assumption to make. If you can’t comprehend that an olive skinned, brunette and a paler, red head are twins, then I have reason to lose faith in humanity. Get over yourselves, be original, and be open hearted and kind. The world would be a better place, for red heads and for mankind.
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