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Gingers learn to accept their uniqueness


Many students may struggle with feeling insecure about some aspect of their appearance, often because of societal pressures, but not many feel comfortable expressing this. For seniors Taylor Cole, Caroline Alexander and Will Mullen, it comes down to the color of their hair.


All three of them were born with red hair, and have faced different levels of ridicule from their peers over the years. Because only 2% of the world population has red hair, it can be an easy target to make fun of, especially for younger kids. 


“People used to have the nickname ‘Wendy’ for me, like the restaurant, because I had red hair and made [other] comments making fun of it,” Cole said. 


Though name calling and references are common for gingers, the connotation can go much deeper than that in the way that they are treated.


Contributed Photo

“It was never anything subtle, I was openly treated differently because of my hair color,” Mullen said. “It feels like an identifying characteristic of mine, but it is not what I would identify myself as.”


For women in particular, their red hair also often comes with a stereotype of being unique or exotic. Alexander has noticed this treatment in comparison to her siblings. 


“People come up to me in public and start grabbing my hair like ‘oh my God, is this your natural hair color, you know people pay for that color’,” Alexander said. “People are always up in my business, grabbing me, touching my hair, just giving more interest in me than my siblings because of my hair color.”


This behavior Alexander has experienced has caused her to wish she had a different hair color at certain points. 


“With today’s beauty standards, …I wanted to be blonde for the longest time because I wanted to look like all the other pretty blonde girls,” Alexander said.


Along with Alexander, Cole feels the ideal appearance for a girl in her generation would be blonde hair and blue eyes. This was harder for her to overcome because of the other women most prominent in her life. 


“Growing up in a family where my mom and sister were both blonde, people would make fun of me because they said I was adopted, even though my grandfather has red hair,” Cole said.


Being a ginger, people commonly correlate the hair color to be paired with fair skin and freckles. However, a lesser known connection is the MC1R gene, which is known to sometimes affect one's pain tolerance and the effectiveness of different medications. 

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