Back when I was in school I was badly bullied. The bullying started in little school from as far as I can remember. The reason? Because I had ginger hair. From what I can recall, I was the only one in my class at the time with ginger hair, so naturally, that made me different. Soon enough, I made best friends with another girl with fiery red hair (we stayed besties all through little school and are still in touch via social media today) and I forgot my troubles for a little while. I suppose because we came as a unit through those days it made us stronger in the face of adversity and it didn’t tend to bother me quite so much anymore.
High school was a different story. I’d be subjected to the typical name-calling that I’m sure most redheads are familiar with, but as time went on and I got a little older, the name-calling and commentary took a shift from being spiteful and rude to sickeningly crude.
One particularly bad day, I remember sitting and crying to my mum and told her that when I turned 16 I would be dying my hair black for once and for all. My mum was horrified and kept telling me that my hair was unique and beautiful. “They’re only jealous“, she’d say. Something I’d come to hear a lot over the years. I shrugged her compliments off and could only focus on the hurt and humiliation that I felt, and because I was subjected to it day by day, I began to believe the insults. I was a ‘freak’, I was ‘ugly’ and probably the stupidest insult of them all, I ‘didn’t have a soul.’ How lame.
Fast forward many years to my uni days and many box dyes later and something amazing started to happen. Ginger hair started to become popular. Models like Lily Cole were at the forefront of fashion, Christina Hendricks was a sexy siren, Jessica Chastain was labelled beautiful and was making her mark in Hollywood. Amy Adams was singing her way across the screens as the beautiful Giselle in Enchanted. These women all had one thing in common – their beautiful red hair. I soon reverted back to my natural colour and couldn’t believe the difference in attitude towards my hair. From complements and marriage proposals (I’m not even joking!) to people stopping me in the street and asking me what colour dye I used (I didn’t). It was a miracle. I finally felt accepted, special and above all, proud of my red hair.
It wasn’t a fast process and it took many years of hurt and ridicule for me to realise that actually, my hair colour is something special to be celebrated. My nannan always used to tell my mum that my hair would be my ‘crowning glory’, and of course, she was right.
I’m proud to say that I haven’t dyed my hair for over ten years now and embrace my natural colour. I care for my hair and treat it with respect and love instead of hatred and anguish. I’ve learned to feel confident and beautiful with my natural colour and most of all, I’ve stopped giving my dad mini heart attacks with the box dye fiasco that lasted a year too long. He always said his dream would be to see me walk down the aisle with my natural red hair in tumbling curls. Well pap, I think your dream may come true after all. Provided I find a suitable husband, of course.
If you’re a redhead and you’re struggling with your natural hair colour I really hope that you realise sooner rather than later that your hair is absolutely beautiful. And it’s true you know, those that call you names are just jealous or projecting their own insecurities onto you. They can’t help their shallow mentality, but you can control how you react so let it go right over your head my beauty because you are far better than that.
© Rachael Divers 2018.