portrait of the author as a young ging

portrait of the author as a young ging

Being a ginger has its ups and downs, but I straight up love being a redhead. When you have red hair, you are inevitably described as “the redhead” to friends and strangers, so you might as well embrace it early and learn to love the flame.

Fair warning: this post makes frequent use of the word ginger. If you are offended by such filthy language, step away. Also, examine your life choices. Us fair haired children are, redhead bullying aside, not and have never been a subjugated, repressed, or otherwise systematically oppressed people. Therefore, ginger is not (in my opinion) comparable with certain other slurs and I will use it as I please. I’ve earned the right through my own years of teasing at every pool party and beach I’ve ever been to, OK? Also, I worshipped Ginger Spice as a child and refuse to see the ginger label as anything but awesome. #rantover.

The Little Mermaid came out the year I was born. Coincidence? photo: Disney.

The Little Mermaid came out the year I was born. Coincidence? photo: Disney

I never gave much thought to wanting to be anything but a redhead. Any time I have to identify myself, “redhead” is one of the descriptors that comes to mind right along with hometown, height, and religion. I am all of the things redheads are supposed to be, fiery and independent and sexy and a little weird. Plus, I have the blonde brows, invisible eyelashes, and ghostly skin to match, so changing my hair color at all would be pretty futile. I spent a summer desperately wanting to be platinum blonde (if Soo Joo Park can do it, I can too!) but friends convinced me my entire person would be one color and I abandoned the idea. And I would look decidedly ill, I think, with darker hair.

You have to be a little overconfident as a redhead, because red hair is one of the visual characteristics that it’s still absolutely cool to make fun of. I have been told, “you’re pretty hot for a redhead” more times than I can remember. This is right up there with, “but you don’t look Jewish” as a not really appropriate thing to say to someone you don’t know very well. Are you looking past my genetic mutation of a hair color to see the real me? Or do you just not generally fancy ladies with a melanin deficiency? Better to keep those thoughts to yourself. A normal person would probably be offended by such a backhanded compliment, but I am a fiery ginger (and a Leo) and can’t help but take the love where I can and say “thank you.” I credit my hair for a good chunk of my self-confidence.

Which is why I will not concern myself with shenanigans like Kick-a-Ginger Day. Why would you kick an endangered species? We are a special breed, people. You’re supposed to take extra care of limited edition models, not kick them. Whenever I get a compliment about my hair (thank you, hair stylists and catcallers of the world!) I have to smile extra big because they are acknowledging the truth that red hair is great. Yes, it is my natural color and yes, the carpet matches the drapes. Thanks for asking.

The most awesome hair color does come with a serious flaw: completely transparent white skin that only contains pigment in the form of freckles.

No, I cannot, will not, do not tan. Yes, I absolutely need to reapply sunscreen every 2.5 hours at the beach. SPF 80 is not too high, I do not want a “base color,” and I am absolutely serious about reapplying facial sunscreen before venturing out for a coffee if you ask me between the peak sun hours of 10 am and 3 pm. Your golden glow is my searing burn. Someday, I will hopefully look ten years younger and my vigilance will all be worth it. I once read an interview with Julianne Moore where she admitted to walking on the shady side of the street, and she looks fantastic. I would do anything she recommended for great skin and I now dart between patches of shade on the sidewalk like a rabid vampire whenever I’m outside. Sunshine is simply not your friend when you are a fair maiden with the complexion of a freshly peeled apple (which is, incidentally, the skintone that genius and apparent racist George Balanchine desired of his ballerinas).

Another ginger pro approved by Ms. Moore? You learn to work a hat. I fought them for so long before giving in to the glory that is a personal parasol you can wear on your head. Breezy trucker hats will do in a pinch, but floppy straw hats large enough to droop down over one shoulder are glamorous miracles. And, if you’re going to wear a sunhat the size of an umbrella, you better have some red lipstick and sand-friendly wedge-heeled espadrilles to go with it. Sun protection is the beauty equivalent of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. If you’re going to strive for porcelain, you may as well have a full Dita von Teese moment any time you step outside. Turn your weakness into a trademark.

kryptonite for brooding rockers. photo: Getty

red locks = kryptonite for brooding rockers. photo: Getty

Peaches and cream skin is also a fabulous excuse to spend much $$ on primo skincare. If you find a light enough BB cream or a bronzer that doesn’t look like dirt on your freckles, you buy that shit immediately no matter the cost.

There are cons to being of the gingery persuasion, but it’s such a part of my identity that I can totally deal with the glow-in-the-dark jokes and the impossibility of finding off-the-rack hair extensions in my shade. I love it so much, I want to go redder.

Jessica Chastain as Merida. photo: Getty

Jessica Chastain as Merida is everything. photo: Getty

I spent a little time in Scotland, where I was told that I was not a full redhead. High standards for red hair across the pond, birthplace of all gingers, that shook me to my very core. Since then, I’ve been tortured by the fact that I may not be a true redhead. On the bright side, my reddish strawberry blonde is super fine and thin, a pretty manageable texture compared to those that look more like Merida from Brave. But it’s time to double down and add a little extra fire to my head. I am mildly terrified that I’ll ruin what I got and that some chemical disaster will turn my roots blonde or orange, but I’m going for it.

Now I just have to decide which red to choose. I’m undecided between Ariel red, Christina Hendricks as Joan Holloway copper, or goth lite black cherry, but the Glossies will be the first to know my decision.