Sunday, 12 May 2013

Red Hair is Unique, So Am I!

“It’s not about how others look at me, it’s about how I look at myself” - Neil Patrick Harris (Beastly)

When you read this, can you honestly agree?

I doubt there are many people out there can legitimately say they have always believed this. How many people do you know, that can say, with their hand on their heart that they are unaffected by the words of others? Is there anyone in the world who doesn't care about whats said about them? If there is, I would like to shake their hand. But I really don't think such a person exists, sadly. Everybody worries about the opinions of others, up to a certain point. That's just how it goes...

Most of us know how it feels to be belittled in some way, and usually, it's for nothing at all. People will judge you based on how you look, before you even open your mouth to introduce yourself. When we're sent off to school, at the age of 4, or 5, it starts. I have had the unfortunate experience of being bullied from Senior Infants, right up to the Junior Cert because of my hair. My hair!! It made me want to do anything to fit in. I briefly had blonde highlights as a teenager, wore make-up, tried to dress trendily. It didn't really suit me, if I'm honest... I didn't, and still don't suit that kind of thing.

When I got to 5th year, I decided to do things my way. I dyed my hair darker, almost maroon. It was awful, but it made me feel more like I blended in with my peers. To anyone on the outside, it must have been a drastic change, but to me, it felt necessary. Having been bullied for my red hair, it seemed like the right thing at the time. I wasn't doing it for others, it was all for me, and I continued to dye my hair, as well as dress the way I wanted to, for years to come.

I've noticed lately, a change in the way I see myself, as well as a change in the way I do things. What once was panicked, desperate attempts to blend in, has now become a calmer, more calculated desire to stand out. Thanks to a few of my favourite people, (and if they read this, they'll know exactly who they are) I grew out the dyed, damaged hair, and I embraced my Redhead status. In the past, when someone said "GINGER!!" I couldn't stand it. It upset me and made me angry. I did not want to be the ginger kid everyone used as the butt of some dusty, decrepit and frankly, backwards joke. Nowadays, though, its a different story.

Being a redhead is something I relish. Did you know, that 2% of the words population (at most) has natural red hair? That makes me unique, to some degree, and I wouldn't ever let the words of some stranger, someone who doesn't matter a damn to me make me feel small because of it. Ireland has the 2nd most intense concentration of gingers (yes, I know there's a joke in there somewhere!) in the world, with 10% (about 420,000) of us being lucky enough to say we're redheads!

When others made negative, bullying comments about my hair, I used to think they were right. I believed them. I thought, "You know what? They're the majority, maybe they speak the truth...", but I was so wrong. I saw myself as ugly because of my hair, because I was being told every day that red-heads were somehow lower than every other hair colour.

Now!! :D
I suppose it didn't help that somebody who claimed to love me told me, one day after I mentioned vaguely thinking of going back to my roots, "Having red hair wouldn't suit you, and I don't think you would be attractive if you decided to dye it back to your natural colour...". Stupid me, I listened. Eventually I decided to stick to my guns... I grew out the roots a few inches (which was awful but the ends justified the means) and headed for the chop. This time, I knew the change was drastic! 6 years after I started to cover up my uniqueness, I unveiled my newly short, red hair to my peers, and the response was wonderful. I can laugh along with the jokes now, because they don't hurt me.

How others see you, as much as we say it doesn't affect us, shapes us in ways we might not understand at the time... You might have believed the people who put you down at the time, but when you get away from those people, you'll gradually realise how wrong they were. In the end, when you believe in your heart and mind that you don't need to hide who you are, then you've done it. Personally, I went from hating my hair, to loving it more than ever! Its a part of who I am, it makes me unique.

How others look at you is unimportant. How you look at yourself matters more than anything.

Le GrĂ¡,