As a redhead, you grow up inherently different from most. During adolescence and teenhood, I was one of two redheads in both my elementary and high schools. She and I knew each other well, but we weren't friends. Aside from our hair color, we didn't have much in common.
Eventually, she decided to dye her hair brown and I lost her. I lost her to the sea of blonde, brunette and black that already filled our crowded halls. Then, I was on my own.
As a redhead with two redheaded parents and four redheaded grandparents, I was always encouraged to love my red hair no matter how much grief I got for it. And I got a lot, let me tell you.
But as I grew into an adult, I learned to love the red hair I once fiercely resented. In fact, there are a lot of things you learn about yourself growing up as a redhead.
Here are 12 of those things.
1. “Unique” is a word your parents use to say: “You might get teased a bit.”
Being a redhead is a tremendous gift. We're one of the rarest genetic combinations on the planet -- a mutation, in fact. So when your parents say that you are “unique,” they aren't lying.
But what they're really trying to do is prepare you for the shitstorm of insults you will undoubtedly receive. “Unique” is merely a more flattering synonym for "different," and you will learn this from the very first time you're called “Carrot Top” (more on that later).
When you come home after those first few encounters with a bully, your parents will keep reminding you of how special you are, how they're just jealous and all that nonsense.
"Unique" doesn't mean sh*t to a child. But as an adult, you understand that our differences can have a positive effect on our self-esteem.
2. People are VERY intrigued by your pubic hair.
A very popular insult thrown at redheads is none other than that of “Firecrotch.” An uninventive observation that likens our pubic hair to that of a flame.
Seeing as all of the hair on our bodies is red, why do people tend to aim their insult at the hair that surrounds our genitals? It's weird, isn't it? I've found the best way to end this unoriginal term is to confess that yes, your pubic hair is red and, at least in my experience, that's usually the end of it.
3. There will always be jokes at your expense.
As the token redhead in my group of buddies, I'll get the odd joke thrown at me for being a redhead. But, again, redheads are different and rare so, of course, that's going to be the thing people point out about you. Hell, it could be a lot worse.
4. Children will make comments.
A friend of mine's younger brother was always a twerp. I hated him. Whenever I came over, he'd ask the same questions: “Why do you have brown dots on your skin?,” “Why's your hair orange?” and all of those inquisitions that come innocently from a kid in kindergarten. Regardless, I hated him. He was mean. But again, it's something that comes from your inherent differences.
5. Ginger chasers are aggressive.
When somebody who fetishizes gingers stumbles on one, it's as if that person has witnessed the rarest Pokémon on Pokémon Go. My fiancée is a ginger chaser, and everything that comes with the hair color -- the pale skin, the freckles, the temper -- she just adores.
When a redhead comes in contact with ginger chasers, you will know realize their predilection within minutes of meeting them. They will talk about your hair as if it's the rarest of jewels and spare no detail on how sexy they find your crimson locks and each trait a redhead possesses. Your job is to deduce whether this person is into you just on a sexual level or something deeper.
6. You hate (then love) your freckles.
Every kid hates his or her freckles. Freckles make you different and being different gets you teased. In school, kids used to play “connect the dots” on my skin when they were bored in class.
As you grow up, though, you learn to love your freckles. I mean it. Over time, you start to appreciate them as a huge part of what makes you, you.
7. Redheads can be further categorized.
Who knew redheads could be further divided by our already rare hair color? Redheads, that's who.
Redheads with blue eyes tend to have a paler complexion than those with brown, and with that comes both lighter eyebrows, eyelashes and skin that's more sensitive to the sun. Brown-eyed redheads are more commonly referred to as “daywalkers,” which means it is possible for us to tan, though.
8. Sunburn is par for the course.
Every summer I get a sunburn. A bad one. Now that I'm in my 20s, you'd think I'd have learned --but making the bold decision to step out from under the shade and into the sunlight will always provide an unpredictable result for a redhead.
Sometimes you'll need ample sunscreen and smear it on like peanut butter, and other times you don't need any at all (this is rare). Regardless, each and every summer, I will ALWAYS have a glaring red sunburn that will feel like absolute hell in the shower and whenever I move an inch in my bed sheets.
9. You feel an instant connection with another redhead.
Like people who drive Jeeps, I feel an instant connection with other redheads. I'll point them out to my fiancée for no reason whatsoever aside from the fact that I've finally spotted another redhead in my near vicinity. Sometimes I'll even wave or give a head nod and, to my surprise, this gesture is reciprocated most of the time.
10. Older women will comment how badly they want your hair color.
As a kid, I always had ladies approach me to say how beautiful my hair was. They'd exclaim things like: “Nothing I get from the box comes remotely close to that!,” or “I'd kill to have that shade of red.”
And me, being a small boy, would awkwardly stand there while these strange ladies' acrylic nails scraped through my hair.
11. Redheads are rarely portrayed in a positive light.
I remember watching “Frozen” with my niece and witnessing a ginger Prince (Hans) and thinking, “FINALLY! Prince Charming is ginger.” But, as we all know (If not: spoiler alert!), Hans becomes the bad guy. Because of course he does.
These days, you rarely see a redheaded character portrayed in a positive light. The color is often reserved for roles like the nerd or the loner.
Even classic redhead characters are being replaced: “Annie,” and now Ariel from “The Little Mermaid” (who is being portrayed by BLONDE Chloë Grace Moretz). What the hell!
12. “Carrot Top” is the most unoriginal insult in the world.
If you're a redhead, it goes without saying that you've been called “Carrot Top.” Since my parents are redheads themselves, I was ready with a killer rebuttal: “Carrot tops are green.”
Boom! Done. They're finished.
As we all know, having to explain a joke/insult takes away from its effectiveness, so if they try to tell you how your hair is orange and so is a carrot, they've already lost.