I am a redhead, who absolutely love my hair. I think it makes me unique, and compliments my skin tone perfectly. It makes my ice blue eyes pop with a fierce and piercing quality that makes them my favourite feature. The thick strands catch the light and shine like the setting sun. It is magnificent. Now, did I always love my hair this much? Nope. Not even a little. It took me a long time to find the joy in being different. I’ve coloured my hair countless times, from almost black to ultra platinum blonde. As we speak I have a lovely bailage blonde that peaks out through the deep auburn. From mermaid to pixie and every length in between, I have had a love hate relationship with these locks for as long as I can remember. What I’ve learned along the way is that something as simple as our hair can shape the way we view ourselves from a very early age. Now that I have a little redhead of my own, I’ve been correcting and educating many who mean well, but are missing the mark.
So, here are my top 5 tips on how to raise strong and confident little redheaded girls.
It’s just hair.
Growing up I had one relative who treated my hair like the holy freakin grail. Seriously. She would gush over it and shame me for not wearing it down so I could “show it off”. Oh, and when I would talk about cutting it? I would be scolded for not appreciating what I had. It made me so frustrated that I chopped my hair shorter than short, before pixies were cool, which really meant I just looked like a little boy. But you know what it felt like? Freedom.
It wasn’t just my very well meaning relative. It’s hair stylists trying to convince me not to colour it or cut it. The exes who confessed to liking me because I was a redhead. And the strangers on the street asking if it’s my real colour and then arguing with me that it must be dyed because don’t I know that all redheads have green eyes? *cough*.
Holy crap whistle, it’s seriously just hair.
If you are blessed with a redheaded baby, don’t treat their hair like the defining factor in what makes them who they are. See, it even sounds silly when it’s typed out like that.
Protect their skin.
The single design flaw of having red hair is also having to deal with very fair skin. Force the sunscreen issue. We will fight it (no kid likes sunscreen) but it is a necessary evil. Part of the whole building confidence thing means building a love for fair skin. When I was younger, all I wanted was to be tanned. To go out in a bathing suit and not reflect sun like a mirror. It again, took a long time to learn to love this snowy white complexion but a big help was knowing that in generations passed, it was the fairest skin that was sought after.
* Protecting your skin is paramount whether you have fair skin or not, but protecting yourself from what goes on your skin is just as important. EWG has an amazing sunscreen guide that I always refer to when summer rolls around. A long time favourite of mine is Thinksport Kid’s Safe Sunscreen SPF 50+, 6oz. It rates really well, has great coverage, doesn’t feel greasy and is easy to spread. I personally use the kids version on myself as well as the girls because the adult version seems to dry my skin a touch. Pro tip: Make sure to apply about 15 minutes before you go outside and really rub it in. This will help to prevent the ultra white glow that zinc can sometimes cause. *
Oh, and for the love of Pete, get your kiddos sunglasses. Again, a good idea for everyone, but especially littles with light eyes. Though photophobia (light sensitivity) is not specifically a redheaded thing, it effects your blues, greens and greys meaning they need a little extra love.
Teach the superpowers
Did you know redheads have special powers? They do! It’s such an important piece of the puzzle for a little girl struggling to accept being different. Make it positive and remind them of their incredible powers whenever they’re feeling a little down.
– Being a redhead is a literal mutation. So, like an actual superhero. Awesome.
– Having red hair means that you are very rare. Red hair and blue eyes? Well now, you’re damn near a unicorn (thank you very much).
– Redheads tolerate pain a little differently than others. While we get cold a bit easier and need more anesthetic, we also turn out to be a bit tougher than your average bear.
– Red is the hardest colour to maintain if it’s not your naturel hue. So while wanna be reds are working hard to keep their red rocking, we get to sit back and just watch it grow.
– Redheads are also less likely to go grey. More often turning varying shades of pale yellow, pink and straight white…. hello… pink?!
– Our hair is crazy thick, making it super strong.
– We’ve got a club and the only price of admission is your glorious birthright.
Look, it’s not all Queen Elizabeth and Helen of Troy. There have been plenty of stars throughout history that have been natural redheads. Rose Leslie played a total badass on Game of Thrones. Michael Fassbender is heartthrob central. Don’t forget Christina Hendricks, Isla Fisher, Prince Harry, Ed Sheeran and even the Weasley’s! These are of course just a few examples (no I didn’t miss Emma Stone, she’s actually a born blonde). My point is that there are plenty of Hollywood folk to look up but, but the key to feeling like you fit in is to find people who look similar to you.
As parents, we have an opportunity to show our kids that they are not alone. That there are people out there with the same colour hair or skin. People who talk the same, think the same, love the same. We get the incredible honour of showing them where their people are and watching their heart grow as they feel accepted as someone who belongs. We are all searching for our people and little girls have the weight of the world on their shoulders. Take the time to find celebrities they can relate to. It doesn’t have to be movie stars. Athletes, musicians, politicians, world leaders and historic figures are all role models. Find the ones that fit best with your family values and run with it.
Watch your words
Words can hurt, we all know that. How you talk to and about your daughter will shape her inner voice for years to come. Be cautious of using stereotypes to explain away their actions or the actions of others. Like saying we have a temper, run hot or are feisty. To a grown adult you’ll get a long and exaggerated eye roll, but to a kid who is just trying to define who they are? You might do more damage than you intend. And the nicknames? If they say they don’t like it, guess what, they don’t like it. I hate being called a ginger. Like, hate it. Like accidentally spill my drink in your lap so you’ll go away type of hate it. But my bestie calls me Red and it is received with nothing but love..
To answer your question:
– Yes, it’s naturally red.
– No, I’m not Irish.
– Nope, not Scottish either.
-Yes, I’m sure.
– I have heard that about redheads.
– That hormonal teenage boy question you’re dying to ask? Don’t.
– I have a soul, I think.
– Ron Weasley was obviously the unsung hero. And turned out super hot.
Everyone has a tribe. If you need a little help finding yours read this.