Ginger. Aaaaargh! It is a term I have loathed for most of my life, since it became clear to me the stigma attached to the label.
It is now arguably one of the words I most use in my life. What a turnaround. I decided to use it in my blog name, in an attempt to grasp my USP, and perhaps to finally, once and for all, embrace the millstone it has become around my neck.
Since schooldays began, I have been aware that there was something 'unique' about my appearance. Being decidedly average looking, I have one particular outstanding feature, quite clearly my flowing Titian locks. They have long been the bane of my life for numerous reasons. As soon as children were of an age where they could differentiate between aesthetic differences in themselves and their peers, I have been described by my hair colour, it has become my achilles heel.
In any other walk of life, being described negatively by your body shape or size, skin colour or physical attributes is seen as prejudicial. But not if you are Ginger. Then it's ok.
I was never actually bullied at school, let me be clear. However, I have been teased mercilessly and been given countless 'fun' nicknames over the years related to my hair colour. Forgive me if I do not guffaw along with your jovial quips about Gingers, please understand if I do not 'ROFL' as you do when you think up yet another derogatory or vulgar term to describe my looks. Maybe I've no sense of humour around the subject or perhaps I'm just over it. Growing up, I wanted desperately to change the very thing which gave me individuality. Why not just dye my hair? My mum won't let me. I'm 42...
She loves my locks, told me that a redhead's hair turns green when dyed so I was always too afraid to try it! Cheers Mum! To this day I've never faked my follicles. As soon as the grey starts to show too much though, I'm on it like a car bonnet.
As I entered my twenties, my confidence in my appearance had not progressed greatly. However, it was chivvied along by a mixture of numerous elderly ladies who would literally stop me in the streets and compliment my colouring. Their statements often start with 'I used to have the same hair colour as you' or my Grandchildren are Ginger'. They would then follow up with heartwarming tales of their affection for the affliction and I'd depart their company usually buoyant and basking in the glow of their appreciation. This regularly occurs, mainly from waitresses, random strangers & people I meet for the first time. If I had a pound for every time I've heard 'people would pay to have your hair colour'......
But still, for years I would insist on my hair being referred to as 'Titian', a perfectly plausible reference made acceptable by the legendary painter who famously painted his loved of the ruby-crowned ladies. The definition in Wikipedia is 'Titian is a tint of red hair, most commonly described as brownish-orange in colour. More so, Titian hair is specifically a bright colour, with a tint of golden-brown. It ranges in shades from medium to dark. Like most red hair, it is commonly associated with light features'. Er yeah, understatement!
I often lament that I was born in the wrong Pantone - a sad fact I secretly believe - and I camouflage my pale skin with self-tan and plentiful make-up. Maybe one day I will fully embrace the freckled face but I can't see it coming any time soon.
When I gave birth to my first son - a particularly gruelling and dramatic experience - my second question (quite shockingly) was - does he have red hair? Clearly I established his safety & well-being first but hot on the heels of that was my concern for his physical attributes. But as we revelled in the joy of our new baby boy as the health professionals took him to check his vitals and as we listened to the sound of his first cries, I was worried about him being pale and Ginger. The reason for this was solely that pre-birth I had long worried for the mental happiness of my future teenage son where I fretted over how he would handle the teasing, the nicknames and the ribbing, as a boy would it be easier to take than as a female? Would it be water off a ducks back or would it upset him like it did me? Would he harden up like I did or rather retreat into himself, would it impair his social skills etc. All these worries based around a purely physical embodiment of his natural DNA.
Fortunately when I first set eyes fully on the exquisitely formed product of my womb, the miracle of Mother Nature kicked in and I saw this perfect, handsome fusion of cells, resplendent in the Ginger gene, looking sleepily at me with his face of perfect newborn innocence, it was with great clarity and relief I realised he looked exactly as he should.
Fast forward five years and God blessed us with a second slice of perfection in the shape of Dominic - all 10lbs, 4oz of him - ouch!
Both our young sons look alike, they have the same skin tones, hair colour and sweet, kind nature.
Thanks to my husband's confident attitude and forthright approach to sensitivities, we affectionately refer to our home as 'Ginger Towers' and have a policy of embracing all things red, in an attempt to show our children a positive outlook on their most noticeable physicality.
Researching for this post on the internet, it's quite clear the general consensus is that we are a fiery, highly desirable (!) lot and a real force to be reckoned with!
I have slowly come round to this and I feel like it is, like it or loathe it, my noticeability factor in a saturated blogging world, so have made it my moniker and I have to say I truly am loving it! It's snappy, memorable and most of all, me.Suggest a correction