It's a Redhead!
After I was born, the first thing the doctor said was "It's a redhead,"
and so my mother sat there for several seconds not knowing
whether I was a boy or a girl. After some persistent questioning,
she finally found out that I was in fact a redheaded boy. Like it or
not, ever since, I have been defined by my hair color.
To be honest, I never really minded this -- that is, until my friend
showed me the web site for Redheads International
(www.redheadclub.com). There, several redheads have created
what is essentially an online support group for those with red hair.
It may be an admirable idea, but I have just one problem with it. For
my 28 years as a redhead, I have never felt that I needed a support
group because of my hair.
I am sure I may need a support group for many other things, but
being a redhead is just not one of them. Honestly, it never seemed
that horrible to me, but apparently others feel differently. For
example, as I explored Redheads International, I came across this
depressing fact: "According to researchers at the University of
Northern Iowa, redheads are seen as less attractive and desirable
than blondes or brunettes, and red-haired men rate below all types
and ethnicities in attractiveness." Oh, well, I suppose it could be
worse. At least, I'm not a researcher at the University of Northern
"Hey, Vern, what do you want to do today?"
"I dunno. Let's do a study about redheads and then later we'll go
out and watch some corn. Okay?"
(I imagine that right now there's probably a support group forming
for researchers at the University of Northern Iowa who have been
insulted by redheads.)
On the message boards at the web site, various redheads
complained about those who mocked them in grade school. Most
had come to terms with their hair ("Now I would be no other way!"),
but every message contained a hint of past suffering. And this
confused me. Perhaps I'm just an odd redhead, but most people
seem to like my hair color. As a kid, I was mocked for many
things, of course, but not usually for my hair. Whenever another
child would laugh at my hair, I would just look confused, and that
would be the end of it. So what if I had red hair?
Admittedly, I didn't always love my hair. As a shy kid, I would have
liked to blend in more, and I never understood why older people had
to yell out, "Hey red" when they saw me. I could recognize their
hair or lack thereof; it didn't mean I felt compelled to yell, "Hey
whitey" or "Hey baldy" to them. And there were other drawbacks
too. Even now, I'm still annoyed that I can practically get sunburn
from a light bulb. Once, I even managed to get sunburn on the top
of my feet. But all this doesn't mean I need a support group.
As for the web site, I shouldn't complain too much. It was mostly
uplifting and helpful. The people there all seemed to love their hair
now, and many were looking to date other redheads. (There was
even a link for a redheaded dating service.) The site was also full of
useful advice, though it was the trivia that was most interesting. For
example, I learned that according to one British superstition, "It is
held that red-haired people never can make good butter. The butter
always has a slight tang about it." Well, who would have known? I
suppose it makes sense that my butter would be bad, considering
that on some days I can't even make good toast.
There was more to the site than this, but somehow I couldn't make
myself spend the $20 membership fee to discover it. I have the
hair. It didn't seem fair to make me shell out $20 to join. Perhaps if
someone wants to create a Cheap Redheads International club
with no cover, I'll think about joining.
Then again, I probably won't. I still chafe at the idea of a club for
redheads. Must we form a support group for everything? I guess I
just don't want to be special for my hair color. My hair color, after
all, is not an accomplishment; it is merely a relatively obscure
genetic trait with which I was born.
I don't need my own club. Just pass me some 45 sun block, and I'll