By: Sam S.
As human beings, one of our tendencies is to always want what we can’t have. Growing up in a very small town as a redhead, I never wanted to be recognized or publicly acknowledged for my unique hair color.
The first time I was really made aware of my unique hair color began in kindergarten. As an already painfully shy child, the last thing I wanted was to draw any unnecessary attention to myself. As I quickly learned over the years however, this would prove to be impossible, and not only impossible, but would lead to many insecurities throughout my teenage years.
Fast forward to my awkward and seemingly insecure teenage years. During this time, more often than not, adults would stop me on the streets of downtown Toronto during my many visits to the big city; while I was waiting in line at grocery or video stores; and even as I was standing in elevators, to ask me the one question that I was asked all too often: “Is that your natural hair color?” When I first heard what I thought was a rhetorical question, I assumed I was being somehow being teased, and I was unsure of how to respond. I had already mastered comebacks for kids that loved to call me names like: ‘carrot top,’ or ‘ginger.’ After all, carrot tops are green and ginger is a spice. I wasn’t aware of it at the time however, that I was receiving some of the most unique and flattering compliments from complete strangers.
I wasn’t bullied or teased by other kids about my weight, my glasses or my shoe size, although in my case, I longed to be. Instead, I was constantly teased about my red hair. “Being teased about your hair color is a sign of envy and flattery,” my parents always used to say. All I knew for sure was how badly I wanted to fit in and be ‘normal’, and ‘normal’ meant having the same hair color as everyone else.
Achieving confidence as a redhead has come as a result of reflecting on, and learning from, my unique social situations and experiences over the years. Confidence isn’t something that develops overnight, and it is important to remember that it is something that is learned and achieved through various life experiences. For me, it is wisdom that comes with age that brings me a stronger sense of confidence each and every day.
If I was able to go back in time, I would definitely want to tell my younger self to:
1. Let Your Hair Down Girl! : Embrace your individuality and let your hair color be a daily reminder that you are unique.
2. You’re Not Alone: While you (and your hair color) are unique, so is everyone else. Learn to spot the unique qualities in others in order to embrace and celebrate them.
3. Red Hair, Don’t Care: This one is easier said than done. Believe that anyone who is teasing you is doing so because they are envious. You are a better person for not going out of your way to knock down someone else’s confidence.
4. Wake Up With a Grateful Heart: Wake up every day with a grateful heart, remembering and knowing that you are healthy, happy and loved, and appreciating that your unique-ness is on full display for the world to see. Now, as a twenty-something adult, I appreciate when people stop me on the street to ask me that all too familiar question, so that I can loudly and proudly declare: “Yes! This IS my natural hair color, and I am so lucky to be able to rock it.”
Rock it like a Redhead!