By Brigid McNutt
“I get freckles, too, when I eat banana medicine!” a five-year-old told me other the other day. Cuteness and hilarity aside, he got me thinking about what it means to be a fair-skinned, freckled, redhead — or as most commonly referred to, a ginger. From copper to auburn to burgundy, we natural redheads make up an estimated one to two per cent of the world.
Over the past few years, the fact that I am a ginger seems to come up more in conversations, and makes up a larger part of my identity. Ginger jokes are a daily part of my life. Fire, flames and freckles, I’ve heard jokes about it all. Thanks to an episode of South Park, I have become accustomed to “gingers-not-having-souls-jokes,” a trend that really seemed to take off a few years ago.
Normally, I don’t mind at all. I appreciate the witty jokes I hear. We can laugh about my perma-pasty skin. Please, cheer me along as I celebrate getting more freckles because it’s the closest I’ll ever get to a tan. Yes, I will smell like sunscreen all summer. I’ve accepted this never will change, so humor makes it all more bearable.
What I cannot tolerate though, is Kick-A-Ginger Day. I received some gentle kicks back in high school. It was never done maliciously, but I saw no humor in it. As far as I’m concerned, violence is never acceptable.
To add to it, studies have shown that redheads have a lower pain tolerance and often require greater amounts of anesthesia. I’ve also read that as a result we are more likely to be afraid of going to the dentist. Though I know some pretty tough gingers, this certainly rings true for me.
Luckily, however, we gingers stick together. I’ve never met another ginger I didn’t instantly bond with. Even with strangers, an understanding nod of recognition with a fellow ginger in passing says it all — I feel your pain.
In 2011, the world’s largest sperm donor bank announced they would no longer be accepting donations from redheads. They claimed there is simply not enough demand. Ouch.
All of this aside, I’ve learned to celebrate being a ginger and would never want to change. I often get asked if I would ever dye my hair, and my answer is always no. Sometimes it’s nice to stand out in the crowd—even if it is just because of my blaring pasty legs.