I have been a redhead as long as I can remember. Apparently there were a couple of years at the beginning of my life when for all intensive purposes, I was bald.
I used to believe my mother was exaggerating this fact – this extended baldness until I was 2.
And then I had children. Beautiful, golden haired children. Who lost all of their red womb fuzz within a day and proceeded to be bald until the age of 2.
All three of them.
As long as I can remember, my hair has been the topic of much discussion.
“Oh, it’s such beautiful hair. People spend THOUSANDS of dollars trying to get your colour, but it’s just impossible to replicate!”
“You are so lucky! Red hair is so rare and special!”
“It’s like it glows…”*
“Ha! You’re a red headed rat rooter!”**
“NEVER die your hair. It will NEVER be the same again!”
This last one has always had me, and still does have me, terrified.
My hair is a huge part of my identity.
I know it’s just hair, but when your life has been punctuated by what seems to be the entire world’s opinion in the state of your hair colour, it’s no longer just hair.
It’s who you are. Or who I am.
I am so proud of my hair – that it is an extension of my personality. Bright, cheerful, and just a little bit strange.
I am so glad that Roo inherited my recessive gene. That both Pal and I carry the recessive gene (which is actually a mutation on chromosome 16) despite Pal being the furthest from redheaded as one can get.
Before I continue, I should inform you that it is not necessary to “protect” the ginger in me. The ginger gene, although recessive, is not in any danger of becoming extinct.
Redheads STILL make up to 1-2% of the population – like they probably have for all time. Like they probably will for all time.
Unless our redheaded mutated chromosome 16 has some kind of supernatural ability to survive a nuclear holocaust. In which case redheads will rule the world.
And then proceed to repopulate it with mostly blonde and brunette children – because even two redheads with a mutated chromosome 16 run the chance of not passing that mutation onto their children. So eventually, redheads will be back to 1-2% of the population.
Obviously our redheaded reign – in which there is bound to be a focus on sun safe practice – will be short lived.
Despite the possibility of supernatural powers, sometimes I wish I was gifted with mouse brown hair. Or any other hair colour hair, really.
You see, I can’t be outrageous with my hair. I can’t do anything bright and colourful. I’m frozen when it comes to colour because what if the colour never comes back the same again?
And so the result has been a string of really bad, really sad hairstyles – all gone wrong. Really wrong.
Along with my radically, naturally, bright hair comes thick waves, curls and kicks that have flummoxed even the best of hairdressers.
So much so that even I can’t count on my hair to be curly, wavy or what can only be described as “boof” on any given day.
And it has taken until my 28th year to find a regular hairdresser who understands the way my hair defies all layering, thinning and cutting that attempts to control the flow and sit nicely.
And so it is now, finally, that I feel confident enough in a hairdresser to allow her to put more than the four blonde foils I attempted in my late teens and early 20s in my precious hair.
I’ve been searching for ginger hairstyles and you come up with a million and one colour options for redheads, but never anything fun, young and funky for the naturally overly pigmented, mutated gene, UV sensitive amongst us.
And so it is with great trepidation that I am taking one small step for me, one giant leap for redheaded womankind:
I am going to place photos on the Internet of a natural redhead. Going ombré.
So that the next person who google searches, Pinterests or trawls hair colour websites, can see what ombré looks like when grading from natural red at the crown to blonde at the tips.
I’m taking one for the ginger team.
And if my hair never returns to normal, I will simply blame the Internet. And then crawl into a ball and cry.
Have you ever done anything radical to your hair? Possibly defying the hundreds of people in your lifetime who have told you what a big mistake it would be? Please feel free to share!
*This is my personal favourite, and is accompanied in my memory with a choral “aaaaahhh” as my halo begins to shine.
**Dear Gavin from Year 2: you, my friend, are a strawberry blonde. Which means you have the same mutated chromosome 16 as I do. Only yours is more half assed.