I have here an email from Mason, a 13-year-old in Buffalo, who writes:
“I hate my hair color… I am a redhead and people make fun of me and I am afraid I’ll never get a girlfriend because I’m red haired, how do I get girls to like me?”
This has got to be the best letter I’ve ever received. And as a fellow redhead, I can relate to this question, Mason.
It is hard being a redhead. And it’s especially difficult when you’re young. But I promise things will get easier once your hair finally turns white.
As a kid I hated my hair. My head looked like a mint penny, I had buckshot freckles, pale skin, and fainting spells. Redheads are prone to fainting: something in our genes.
My mother says people in the supermarket would ask if they could rub my copper head for good luck. She always obliged them, although I don’t know why. Many times in the produce aisle there would be a single file line of strangers waiting to fuzz my hair violently and make a wish. By the time I was three I was nearly bald.
Also, when you’re a redhead you’ll find that you stand out in pictures involving flash photography. Poorly lit photographs will transform your unique hair into the orange flames of Satan.
My friend Johnny Paul said this was because all redheads were secretly witches. His remark really hurt my feelings so I boiled him alive in an iron kettle.
I disliked my hair so badly that I tried dyeing my hair once. I heard that shoe polish worked. I spent an entire afternoon rubbing Kiwi “oxblood brown” shoeshine into my hair to make it brunette. When I finished, my mother was mortified. She vigorously washed my hair, but the tint was permanent. For six months thereafter my hair was burgundy.
But if you ask me, one of the strangest things about being a redhead is all the ridiculous red-hair myths circulating. Some of these wives tales are still believed today.
There’s the myth that if you see three redheads in a row you will win a large sum of money. And you can take it from my uncle Tommy Lee, this doesn’t work. Also, it makes no difference whether the jockey has red hair, either.
In Corsica, France, there is a myth that after encountering a redhead you must turn around twice, close your eyes, and spit, thereby avoiding bad luck. But remember, the French also serve snails to company.
There’s also the myth that redheads have bad tempers. Which is absurd. And if anyone ever accuses you of this you should set fire to their car.
Some redheads are supposedly less sensitive to pain. But many redheads are HIGHLY sensitive to pain, which is the case with me. It’s a DNA thing. I am extremely sensitive to all things, including seasonal allergens, laundry detergents, and the closing scenes of “Steel Magnolias.”
I can’t tell you how many times a doctor has given me medication and said, “Whoa, I’ve never seen anyone THIS sensitive.”
So in many surgical situations, I receive approximately the same amount of anesthesia as it would take to sedate a domestic rodent. Like when I was 11, I had major dental surgery. The doctor was prepping his syringe and before his needle even touched my skin I passed out and was good to go.
Which brings me back to what I said earlier. I have a history of fainting. I’m not proud of this, but it’s true. I come from a long line of fainting redheads. You should have seen our family reunions. We were fun.
I remember one such reunion. My cousin (also a carrot-top) and I were both stung by wasps. The stings weren’t bad, but we both got so worked up that we BOTH fainted.
When we awoke, we were lying in my aunt’s bedroom with the lights off, and (this is true) resting beside us was my aunt Eulah. Aunt Eulah (longtime redhead) told us that she heard screams from our wasp incident and was so startled that she fainted and spilled potato salad all over her dress.
So yes, it’s hard being a redhead. For most of my life I hated my fair complexion, I loathed my 82,379 freckles, I despised my hair follicles. Often, I prayed that one morning I would awake with darker hair.
Well, be careful what you wish for. Because in my 20s, my hair began changing to an auburn color and all of a sudden nobody in the produce section wanted to rub my head anymore.
Even so, the color of your hair has nothing to do with whether you get a girlfriend. If you want girls to notice you, believe me, friend, what’s on your head is not nearly as important as what’s within your chest.
Furthermore, there is no reason to be ashamed of your hair. I realize we redheads are not typically portrayed as vibrant beauties, but I disagree with this notion. Some of the greatest men and women I have ever known had ginger hair.
Like my father, grandfather, my aunts, uncles, and cousins. And my ancestor, the Scots-Irishman with a ruddy complexion, who stood upon the shore of Ellis Island, holding a red haired baby, and a sack containing all his possessions.
I never knew these ancestors, but believe me, they weren’t ugly. And when I look in the mirror I still see their hazel eyes, their jawlines, their fair skin, their freckles, and I feel grateful that we bear their proud marks. Often, I am so moved by this vision that I wake up lying on the floor.
Bob E - February 15, 2021 6:57 am
One of the funniest ever – almost a chuckle per sentence – well at least per paragraph.
Keep it up…
lynda - February 15, 2021 7:05 am
Just so you know………redheads are my very favo-rite people in the whole world. Always have been. I wanted to be a redhead with chocolate eyes and enough freckles for 6 people. Instead I had blonde hair and blue eyes. What??
You are amongst the very favorite. You make me laugh. You make me cry. Often times laugh out loud even. I love your stories and I love you. Stay awesome.
Dawnie B - February 15, 2021 7:53 am
Hey Mason, both of my daughters have red hair & they are beautiful! I love red hair. My husband is, also, a ginger. I am a brunette, but it doesn’t make any difference, he is most handsome to me! Kids everywhere are just mean at your age, just keep cool until you get out of high school (maybe not even that long) and you will have so many friends who will love you because of your goodness & kindness, not the color of your hair!
Sara Shaver - February 15, 2021 12:01 pm
I always wanted red hair
Cynthia Harmon - February 15, 2021 12:09 pm
2 out 3 daughters are red heads. In fact I got choice of names bc the 2nd was red headed and my former husband was using statistics against me. Both girls are very even tempered. The oldest is resistant to pain medication. Drs would not believe either of us until her adult years. It was awful. My 2nd daughter must be less sensitive to pain. I base that on her actions and reactions to a motorcycle accident that resulted in her left leg amputation. Not to say it didn’t hurt like h..but the nurses remarked that people usually scream and cuss. She was very calm and was doing breathing exercises. They are both very beautiful inside and out.
Becky Kaufman - February 15, 2021 12:20 pm
dear Sean, I’m a77 year old fading redhead. But all my friends are gray or white haired. I’m the only one with any color in my hair and my red is the kind that doesn’t turn white, but rather yellow.
NAOMI - February 15, 2021 12:47 pm
My best friend is a red head, and nobody better mess with her or her family. She will “let you have it” with both barrels. She will do anything for me and always has my back.
Teresa Blankenship - February 15, 2021 12:56 pm
Our only child was a redhead. He would always ask was I adopted? We did not have red hair his grandmother did. Oh what I would give to see that redhead again. We lost him on a firecall in 2015❤️
Dean - February 15, 2021 1:01 pm
Love red hair.
chatfield84 - February 15, 2021 1:15 pm
Hey Sean! I was the chubby redhead in my family 🙂 I’m no longer chubby and my hair is no longer red – it’s now white as snow. I hated my hair growing up. No introvert want the attention that red hair brings. But God brought me a red headed husband and 2 redheaded kids. My husband and son have tons of freckles. They also have the
Although my hair has been completely white for more than 15 years, I somehow have to really think about my hair color when I fill out forms. So much for self awareness.
Yeah Team Ginger!
Marileen - February 15, 2021 1:18 pm
Sean, i grew up an auburn head. Always heard ‘rather be dead than red on the head’. I am the only redhead besides an uncle in my family. ( yes have wondered about him being my dad ) I too don’t need much pain med/ anesthesia. The only exception to that was having a baby , so try that out, they couldn’t have given me enough pain meds!!! If it hadn’t supposed to have been such a ‘joyous’ occasion, I wished I could have fainted like the ‘fainting goat’ syndrome you had. As I now fall in the elderly age group, my hair is more brown with 2 white streaks either side of my face. I now look like Cruella Deville, so I prefer being a ‘ginger’ than this. And had they used the term ‘ginger ‘ when I was growing up , I think it to be a fun way to refer to redheads. ( oh and I always wished my freckles would join and give me that beautiful tan of the Coppertone baby) (instead I used baby oil and baked in the sun in the 60’s and 70’s. At least I didn’t use QT like Sue Ellen, a blonde who always had a strange orange residue between her fingers.)
David Himes - February 15, 2021 1:31 pm
Watch TV commercials, most have someone with red hair in them, even tho red heads are only 4% of the population. I was red head when young, now I’m white headed and play Santa Claus. Red is a great color for hair. Wear it proudly.
Jan - February 15, 2021 1:52 pm
I used to hate my red hair as a child but came to love the red hair, fair skin and freckles that I saw in the mirror. Of course now my hair is gray and oh how I wish for my red hair once again!
Deborah Scofield - February 15, 2021 2:02 pm
I am a redhead also and Sean, every comment hit home for me also. I swore I would die my hair as soon as I was old enough, but I will tell you that once I reached that “old enough” age my hair did not change color. I had realized that every single person has something about them that makes them different from each other. Some on the surface and some inside, but being different is important. So for all the red headed carrot top children out there…while the kids that poke at you seem mean now, they will be envious of your special gift when they finally grow up. Embrace your individuality. Otherwise imagine how boring the world would be if we were all just alike.
nebraskannie - February 15, 2021 2:23 pm
We have red-heads in our family. My mother is a red-head. My first boyfriend was a redhead and my husband is, too. I dyed my own hair red to match my daughter for her high school graduation. I can go on, but my point is, to many of us, red-heads are cool! If you haven’t found a girlfriend, it’s not because of the red hair!
MR - February 15, 2021 2:35 pm
Sean, I’m glad you have embraced your red hair! It goes with your personality and is exactly who your Creator made you to be! Personally, I think your red hair is beautiful 😊
Phil (Brown Marlin) - February 15, 2021 2:37 pm
You guys should just be glad you HAVE hair. My hair is the color of skin. Wait! It IS skin! You think redheads get joked on, just try being bald. But be careful. There is a story in the Bible about lads making fun of a bald guy, and a bunch of bears came out of the woods and tore them apart. A bald guy I know was being laughed at, and he remarked, ” If you guys want to use your hormones to grow hair, go right ahead.”
Cassie Levy - February 15, 2021 3:25 pm
When my brother was born with red curly hair both my parents claimed they had no idea where it came from. Then my mother met several previously unknown (to her) members of my dad’s family, all redheads. He’s from a long line of Scottish redheads and my mother must also have the recessive gene for red hair in order to produce a red headed baby. There were 6 boys born in the hospital that night, all with various shades of red hair. It made the front page of the newspaper. Like you, my brother hated it, but it didn’t stop him from marrying a wonderful woman. I have always been partial to red hair because I was partial to my late brother whom I will miss every day as long as I draw breath.
Paul - February 15, 2021 3:27 pm
From me and my late son. Thank you.
William C. - February 15, 2021 3:32 pm
Hey there Sean,
Interesting take on redheads. I was born a redhead, but got darker and darker as I aged.
Life has been great since birth. No real issues!
But I dreaded, hated needles going into my mouth, arm, butt…still can’t look at that needle going in, and I am 73. But no problem dealing with it now.
Everyone have a great day in these tough times.
Cheryl Andrews - February 15, 2021 3:42 pm
I love red hair. I wanted red hair and I did have my hair dyed red when I was younger. When I was pregnant with my first child, I prayed that he or she would have red hair and long and behold my baby boy had beautiful curly red hair. As he got older, he would look at me with squinted eyes and say THANKS, MOM! And of course he had those awesome freckles and beautiful green eyes with long reddish eyelashes! What a beautiful angelic child! As he grew older, his hair turned to a nice auburn color. And he always had his share of great girlfriends who always commented on his beautiful hair! When he and his wife were expecting their first child, we all prayed (except for my son) for a red headed baby. We got a beautiful baby girl with wavy brown hair. Oh well.
Nedra Tucker - February 15, 2021 3:47 pm
I totally understand. When younger I was told the reason I looked like a screaming demon in pictures was because I seemed to flash color. I do believe this was a kind way of saying “stay out of photographs.” Thank you Lord for aging hair, from rust to pale streaks. But to be honest, I do miss my unique hair. It was not as bad as I thought. My family really is Blessed.
Jenny Young - February 15, 2021 4:03 pm
Some girls adore redheads…ask Jamie.
And I need to know. Are the family fainting stories really true or just exaggeration?
Helen De Prima - February 15, 2021 4:54 pm
Red hair seems to show up in my mother’s family once in every generation. My grandmother had beautiful red hair, then my mother’s sister, and I had gorgeous auburn hair, the color of a bay horse, until it turned white young.
Donna Coen - February 15, 2021 5:07 pm
Oh, thank you, Sean, from someone with red hair, too. Must be genetic – my daughter, a grand child or two, my great grandson all have red hair. It goes back in my family several generations. Keep writing, Sean. You’re downright inspirational all of the time.
Leigh Amiot - February 15, 2021 5:39 pm
When my blue-eyed blond son first grew a full beard, it was red! Scots-a-plenty in our lineage and a nod to them came out in his 20s.
Jackie - February 15, 2021 5:39 pm
I always wanted red-headed children! Much to my delight, when we adopted, both kids were red heads (no, we never specified hair color)!
Martha Black - February 15, 2021 6:12 pm
I too was a red to auburn child with hazel (well my brother said hen s–t green) eyes, freckles & yes I had a tendency to pass out at the slightest inclination from my Scotch-Irish family. Half of us six children were & the other six were dark black or brown headed & beautiful clear skin from the German & Italian side. They always thought they were something. Turns out they were jealous. Once I woke up being hauled back up an embankment I fell down after my husband stopped to let me throw up on the side of the road because he had flipped the inside lights of the car on & off like a strobe light to some weird music. He thought it was funny, I got sick and…… passed out. But……… I didn’t throw up, until…….. he got me back inside his mother’s “new car” Buuuuuick. Kinda sounds like throw up & that particular part of the memory makes me smile…… oh how great! (YES I am a witch)! Anyhow I don’t pass out anymore & I can handle an ocassional shot without blacking out. You build up a resistance after surviving two pregnancies.
Linda Moon - February 15, 2021 6:22 pm
My Guy has sometimes complained about his red hair. But he got a girlfriend (me) and had several before me (or so I’ve been told). There are lots of redheads in his gene pool. I’ve seen way more than three of them in a row, and Uncle Tommy was right. My redheaded Guy fainted as I was giving birth to our firstborn child during a 30-hour labor. HE fainted, not I. You and all my gingerhead guys and gals are adorable! I’d be proud to rub all your heads right now!
Tawanah Fagan Bagwell - February 15, 2021 6:58 pm
I love little red headed boys! My late husband was a true redhead. I am a bottle red but a real one at heart. My mother talked my brother to let her dye his hair red when he was in elementary school. He got lots of attention. I’m glad you could help the boy who wrote you.
Dee Thompson - February 15, 2021 7:44 pm
I have light brown hair that looks fiery red in the sun, auburn in indoor light, dull brown in low light. I have eyes that are either blue or green depending on what color shirt I am wearing. At least your hair is always the same color, I bet.
Throughout history redheads have been regarded with suspicion, even accused of witchcraft.
My newest novel is about the time-traveling exploits of a red-haired witch who visits her descendants in different centuries. Check it out: https://www.amazon.com/Heart-My-Own-story-History-ebook/dp/B08NTMTKZW
Ginger Smith - February 15, 2021 7:50 pm
Ha! I’ll comment on something else. Your Scots-Irish ancestors most likely never saw Ellis Island. They may have come to North Carolina or elsewhere much earlier. Check out the NC Scottish Heritage Society aka Argyll Colony Plus. A wonderful virtual symposium is coming up in March. Great information for Southerners!
Kate - February 16, 2021 2:23 pm
Ann Syfert - February 15, 2021 7:56 pm
My Mom, who passed away almost 11 years ago now, was a redhead when younger. I was blonde and my sister a brunette. My Mom had freckles that I loved but she spent lots of money a lot of years ago on freckle cream trying to get rid of her beautiful freckles. She was always so proud of the fact that my sister and I could get in the sun and tan, because she burned so badly, even under an umbrella. Sure do miss that freckled Mom of mine.
Nancy - February 15, 2021 7:59 pm
When my granddaughter was born, her hair was the color of a new penny—very fair skin and NO freckles. She said kids at school teased her about orange hair but adults always told her how pretty it is. It’s darker now, but still beautiful.
Linda Holmes - February 15, 2021 8:10 pm
Love, love, love this one. I laughed all the way and then I fainted. My “brother” from another mother had red hair and I loved him dearly. He passed three years ago and I miss him every day. It’s not often you get to have a guy as a friend for 50+ years. He saw me through three husbands and said I have to keep number four. I think I will. Thank you for sharing this. Such wonderful, funny memories.
Rod Schwartz - February 15, 2021 8:33 pm
Rani Arbo sang about you red-haired boys… https://music.apple.com/us/album/big-old-life/840350202?i=840350297&ign-gact=3&ls=1
Blessed to be a Strawberry Blonde - February 15, 2021 8:51 pm
Coming from an Irish family of five…Mom, Dad (who was slowly growing bald), two sons, and one daughter (me)…we all had red hair. I remember being frequently complimented on mine throughout my childhood, and beyond. And I remember my brothers thinking that red hair was a curse. One brother was always trying to lighten his, and the other brother eventually caught up with our Dad.
I would agree that boys/men typically do not like red hair on THEMSELVES, but a redheaded girl/woman is considered to be very special.
Don’t take MY word for it. You can see for yourself at the annual Irish Redhead Convention in Crosshaven Village in County Cork, Ireland.
Dan Wise - February 16, 2021 12:56 pm
My brother and I were born with red hair. There are no other related cousins or otherwise with red hair in the extended amply. When we were out and about and others would ask out father where we got the red hair, His retort was something like…’well there was a period of time during those year when we had a rural mail carrier hat had red hair…!
betyoursweetbippy - February 16, 2021 5:01 pm
Oh, you let little Mason know that there are some of us out here who are very partial to redheads. I can certainly attest to having gravitated toward a ginger mostly because of their hair the way some gravitate toward a nice tan and muscles (not my thing). I can also attest to the fact that what is in the heart matters more because no one could’ve been more surprised than me when I fell in love and married a man with dark brown hair. Go figure… I did wind up having a son with red hair so that was my bonus prize.
Kaye - February 17, 2021 4:22 pm
Have you heard this one? If your baby has thrush in their mouth take them to a redhead who has never seen their father. Have that person blow into the baby’s mouth and the thrush will go away….I think I would just take the baby to the doctor….