And Now, A Word From Our Redhead…

I am a Crimson American.  My hair color started out strawberry blonde, then shifted to bright copper during the traumatic K-12 years and has now settled into a medium red color.  Being a redhead is a deeply embedded part of my identity because redheads are often singled out, for better or for worse.  Growing up, adults loved my hair (“what lovely hair you have, dear!”) while children – especially boys – teased me mercilessly.  “Flare hair,” “matchstick” and the old standby “carrot top” were only some of the names that I was called.  In junior high I volunteered at a nursing home where the seniors literally rubbed my hair for good luck.  This type of treatment is bound to give a person a complex. 

The red hair came with blond eyelashes and white skin that made Boo Radley look like George Hamilton by comparison.  The eyelash problem was solved when my mother finally let me wear mascara in seventh grade. It was salvation in a pink and green tube; I can count on two hands the number of people who have seen me without mascara since 1984.  The breathtakingly pale skin never changed, but thanks to self-tanning lotion people can now look at my bare legs without shielding their eyes from the glare.   

When I was about sixteen some of my peers – including the occasional boy – decided that as afflictions go, red hair wasn’t quite as bad as leprosy, and since then I’ve come to see my red hair as a blessing instead of a curse.  It really is a lovely color, and it doesn’t cost me a dime.  Plus, my husband has a thing for redheads. 

My children have somehow escaped my scarlet fate; my sons are blond and my daughter is a striking brunette.  They are kind, funny, smart, and gorgeous, and/but they are not redheaded.  I’ve noticed that most of the redheaded children I see around town have one or two non-redheaded parents, so allow me to share a few hard-earned life lessons here.   

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DO NOT DRESS REDHEADED CHILDREN IN BRIGHT PINK.  Red and bright orange are forbidden too, but bright pink is the worst offender.  I realize that it is somewhat difficult to find non-pink clothes for little girls, and that this may preclude you from wearing some hand-me-downs, but this is an unbreakable rule.  Never, never, never!  Reddish clothing fights with the hair color.  Blue, green, and purple are best.  Brown is fine too, and black works, though its contrast with very pale skin (think piano keys) can be unflattering. 

Put sunscreen on your redheaded children every time they go outside.  Also, if you are going to be outside for more than two hours, cover your kids with clothing or umbrellas, because sunscreen won’t cut it.  I can literally feel my skin burning after being in the bright sun for over fifteen minutes.  The kick in the pants is that fair skin burns the easiest and is the most susceptible to wrinkles and skin cancer.  Also, it turns out that the freckles that some people call “angel kisses” are also referred to as “sun damage” by narrow-minded dermatologists.  Luckily this sun damage is partially counteracted by the “Richie Cunningham Effect” which causes freckled redheads to look eighteen until they are fifty years old. 

When it’s time for makeup, let your redheaded daughters wear mascara as soon as possible/appropriate.  Adolescence is hard enough without a total absence of facial pigment.  As for lipstick and nail polish, redheads need to wear orange, peach, or brown-based colors, rather than red or pink.  Trust me; I have plenty of photos from the eighties to prove this. 

Don’t ever call them “carrot top” or other “funny” redhead nickname.  They’ll get teased enough; they don’t need to hear these jibes at home. 

p.s. When I looked up “redheaded” in an online thesaurus, it suggested “hardhearted,” “hardheaded,” and “retarded.”  Looks like there’s still work to be done…   


1 Comment »

  1. AnonymousCoward said

    Glad to hear you are sticking up for redheads. Isnt there some study about how they are smarter than the average blond and brunette? Also, aren’t you bleeders? Wondering if there is a thin-blooded joke I could make….

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