Monday, July 18, 2011

re-embracing red

not hot?
Since I was “old enough” (probably about 11) until this year I have been changing my hair colour from what unknowing elders have called “beautiful”, hairdressers have described as “a colour people pay to have”, and the rest of the imbecile public have called ginger. The hairdressers are right in more ways than they realise. People do pay good money to have the perfect shade of red, but most red heads would have paid for it their whole lives by being picked on and discriminated against.

I’m dead serious. Hearing people use the words “ginga” and “ranga” gives me so much rage I cannot even begin to express the depth of it. As far as I’m concerned it’s as bad as using the N word. I won’t even say that word in my openly expressive blog, but people blurt out ginga like it’s nobodies business.

Yes! I am likening the oppression and hurt that red heads receive to that of racism. I’ll liken it to sexism against homosexuals if you want. It’s the same thing. I’ve said this before, much to people’s outrage, and I’ve always received a response like “you can’t compare racism to people calling you names for your hair colour!”. Um, yes, I freakin well can. Judging and attacking someone based on the colour of their skin is EXACTLY the same as judging and attacking someone for the colour of their hair. And it’s not like “blondes are dumb” type stuff. Blondes will go through their childhood without ridicule or segregation, without finger pointing and name calling, and by and large being considered beautiful. Red heads are tormented as children and hailed by their peers as unattractive. They say red heads are ragey, well I say they’ve got a fucking good reason to have Fucking RAGE. In the early and highly influential stages of their lives, they are told they are lesser than everyone else. And, no less, that it’s a joke that’s totally acceptable to express despite its blatant racist undertones. Hairism, if you will.

You get to a certain age and that BS stops, but it doesn’t stop anyone from saying “ginga” as an insult and not realising it could be highly offensive to the person standing next to them. Just today, a colleague in her (wild guess) late 50s was having a conversation with another colleague behind me. She showed him a picture of her baby nephew and the other colleague questioned “does he have a reddy tinge or is it just the light?” and she responded, so naturally, with “gawd I hope it’s just the light”. Like a reddy tinge on this poor child’s head would be the bane of its existence. (It might be with an aunty like that!) And I thought she was such a dear!

red hot hot mess
I had been dying my hair blonde for so long that most people I now know genuinely thought that was my hair colour. Perhaps I got away with it because I am not a red head who is overly freckle-clad? About two years ago I suddenly decided to dye it red. But bright red. The kind of red you could never mistake as natural. And people still thought I was blonde, just trying something different. Recently my hairdresser put me on to a colour that was super close to my natural colour, but brilliantly vibrant, and then, when the vibrancy wore off and the colour faded into what I could only assume was my natural colour (having not seen it for 15 years) and I couldn’t afford to get it re-done, I realised that I could totally live with what I had going on there.

It actually is a beautiful shade of red. I had been conditioned into thinking it was ugly for so long that I had never given it a chance as an adult. Sure, I’m still likely to enhance it now and then when I’m feeling a bit drab, but these days I’m likely to go for a colour very close to what I’ve got, just with a bit of extra depth. Or a highlight here and there. People would pay for this colour. And mixed with porcelain skin and big green eyes, I have finally accepted that I’ve got a good thing going on. Not every one agrees, but there are people out there who consider red heads beautiful. I’ve always envied other red heads for their wearing it with gusto while I hid behind bleach, and now I like it on myself. It’s just taken 26 years to get there.

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