My Life as a Ginger.

 Claire Sheehan talks about her experiences as a redhead…

Strawberry blonde, copper, titian, auburn, mahogany – if this is you, you are a redhead. There’s nothing worse than ginger denial so own it and be proud. Besides if you do deny it, society is there to point it out to you – all of the time.

I’m under no illusion about the colour of my hair. Growing up hardly a day went by when schoolmates, peers or even random passers-by wouldn’t feel obligated to inform me that I had red hair. Furthermore, as well as being more sensitive to pain, a more desirable target for bees, requiring more anesthetic for operations, and living with the threat of extinction – us redheads have to deal with the day-to-day reality of having no souls, according to the characters of South Park at least.

As a bearer of the mutated MC1R gene myself, I have fallen victim to regular and varying forms of ginger-bashing for the last 26 years. Some come in the form of sporadic shouts such as ‘ginga’ or ‘carrot’; others take on more advanced expressions such as ‘fanta pants’, ‘copper top’ or ‘rusty’. As if freckles and sunburn were the least of our worries!

I have grown accustomed to the name-calling but nothing quite prepares you for the spitting. However the worst incident was being set alight by a group of older boys when I was about 14, who thought it would be hilarious to spray Lynx on an open flame and direct it at my head. Of course in their defence, it wouldn’t have any effect as I was “already on fire”.

I know I am not alone in this as every redhead I have spoken to has experienced some kind of verbal taunting, abuse or bullying. It also seems to be a worldwide phenomenon where we, the rarest of hair colours, are acknowledged as being ‘different’ in almost every country I can think of. Is it any wonder why we’re known to be fiery and hot-tempered? Perhaps it’s our defence mechanism.

Despite the constant jeering and ridicule there are positives as well. As a female holder of the ginger gene, it has become somewhat of a novelty – even complete strangers feel they can touch it and caress it whenever they please. One old lady stroked my hair for 10 minutes one day while telling me how beautiful my lucious locks were.

So redheads, fear not, there is hope! Celebrities like Isla Fisher, Amy Adams, Julia Roberts and Christina Hendricks are just a few of the smoking-hot redheads who are reinforcing the attractive and alluring nature of our individuality. Plus red hair dye is now the most popular colour – look at Cheryl Cole. Whether it is seen as a positive or a negative, six per cent of the world’s population posess this recessive trait.

For those of you who think you are lucky to have escaped the ginger gene and indulge in taunting us red beauties, be careful – you too may carry the gene and give birth to a bunch of feisty little carrot tops. We’ll prove the extinction theory is a myth and continue to pop up in family trees across the world!


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