I borrowed this title from a wonderful documentary film written and produced by the young and talented director Scott P. Harris.
As you might remember, this year in September was the year I finally had everything ready and planned to go to the REDHEADDAY Convention in Breda. I left after work and the first train I had to catch was mysteriously 15 min late (how random for Switzerland!), but I had enough time even to catch the next connection leaving half an hour later. So I was sitting on the second train all excited -hostel booked – prepared to spend a weekend by myself but also meet tons of people when…
Let’s take a step back first.
Once, I was in London airport and the girl at the security check had wonderful ginger wavy hair, freckles and blue eyes like me; her colleague looked at us while I was passing through the scan and said: “Hey, you could be sisters!”. She complimented me on my brand new flowery Camden Town wellies, then she told me about this mythical ginger international convention and I jumped from joy. That’s how I discovered about the Red Head Days of Breda, so I have been planning to go there since 2011.
Here I am, direction airport, luggage sorted, packed in it also my little ginger-braided Pippi doll, when at 5 minutes to Basel someone jumped in front of my train and consequently we stopped for 40 minutes, we got evacuated and for the first time in my life I missed my flight! Then I started making phone calls, cancelled the hostel, I got dragged to the station by bus and then I catch a train back home in Zurich again. What a journey!
As I travel often, I took it with a sort of statistical/philosophical approach: sooner or later it had to happen to me, no? Besides the fact of realizing what it means to take an extreme action like that, how desperate you have to be, I of course felt sorry for the guy, but also how selfish is this; it caused such a disruption for so many people and involved so many others… But then again it could have been any other weekend when I just go to see my family in Italy and I can just go another time… but for something like this I have been waiting 2 years to do it and now I’ll have to wait another full 12 months… (Flying on Sat wasn’t an option, as it was too expensive.) You can imagine I even had already bought a ticket for the premiere screening of Scott’s movie! In any case during that weekend I kind of considered trying to set up a ginger community in Zurich as my friends tried to convince me that it’s all destiny and something good had to come out of it.
After a huge complain to SBB, ok it wasn’t technically their fault, but in this country you better always complain as at least here they have the money to make customers happy! (NB: In Italy even when you are fully right and with such a delay which might have screwed up the entire rest of your life -for example as you missed to propose to your partner leaving for Qualalumpur for 36 months- you can forget they’d give you anything!) I even got part of the money back and finally managed to see Scott’s film anyway! (You, of course, also can, and please do! As it’s really worth it, just go on his page to purchase a copy; the link at the bottom of the post.)
So what about this movie? It’s funny, it’s moving, it’s real. It tells the story of Scott in his attempt to find love while describing how painful it is being rejected for the colour of your hair (and skin and freaky eyelashes…). I have loved it! It has a very original idea but also quite accessible to everyone, is still very personal. It got very nice feedback at the screening in fact and is still touring the USA…
But Scott wasn’t as lucky as I was. I think both in the USA and in the UK the bulling against gingers is much a bigger deal.
I was born blond and curly, my mum says, in a rainy spring night, but pretty soon I made it clear to the world that I was going to be different, and Ginger! Being ginger to me has always meant being distinct, being special. But in a totally positive sense. I might have been just lucky or maybe because in Italy gingers are not so many, but I have never experienced bullying around it neither on myself or the other gingers I know. It was only recently that I discovered the series of YouTube videos of the American Angry Ginger Guy (Coppercab). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EY39fkmqKBM
It made me feel somehow deeply sad, but it first awoke my awareness too on this topic.
The worse/most offensive sentence I personally ever had to hear is being asked about the true colour of my pubic hair during middle school. In English they say “Do the drapes match the curtains /carpet”. But boys have been always curious about ginger girls. They say we are passionate and fiery. I don’t know if this is true, as I only know myself… But of course the myth on our reputation probably helps when awaking the interest of the other sex. One thing for sure: it does not guarantee to find love more easily. So Scott, we are on the same boat. Ok, maybe you have been a bit more unlucky in your experiences and got -so to say- a cabin with no porthole on the internal part of this damn ginger boat.
During school time, when I was about 10, I got really upset finding out that women got burned at the stake by the Spanish Inquisition just by the colour of their hair and were called witches and had to hide for centuries. And Joan of Arc became one of my favourite heroines of all times.
Then, when I was in my Erasmus semester, I really realized that basically the rest of the world would expect me being Irish or Eastern European after they met me for the first time, and as I don’t really have a typical strong Italian accent (Thanks God – I worked hard on that!) I played with it quite a few times (memorable that time that I pretended to be Gosia from Poland while my dark-haired Italian friend Francesca pretended to be Consuelo from Argentina, until one of the guy we were chatting up said he had just been to South Amercia and…). One of my best party mates of the Erasmus was an Irish ginger fellow called James, who explained me that -where he is from- people like us are called GinGers (with hard G) in a disparaging sense.
Again, when I was in Cardiff on a night out, we were queuing for the club, when suddenly the doorman -a short big guy, with a bald head- looked at me and asked: “which colour is your hair?” So I almost screamed “GINGER!!!” as for me it has always been a plus this feature, nothing to be ashamed of, and he ended up letting me in for free. I remember a huge poster of Geri Halliwell on the wall with her famous red glittered mini outfit. They probably were ginger fans in there… That was a lucky night. I think I even made out with someone…
Last year I took part to a very interesting project from a young photographer called Marina Rosso. The project is called “The Beautiful Gene” (links also at the bottom) and consists in a collection of redhead people -who presumably might disappear in the future- and ended up in a book and in an exposition currently on in Torino. I felt really honoured to be featured in this project and treated as a potential rarity. Marina as well took part to the Breda Convention where -I am sure- she found plenty of material for her work and we also were supposed to meet there…
So in the end, I am happy and feel blessed that I am like this. I inherited it from my Sicilian part of the family and some say I look more like my grandpa Nino, the barber, than anyone else. Funny enough that the ginger features comes actually from the Nordic tribes, but as the Normans ruled Sicily during the Middle Ages, they have been transmitted from generation to generation and got to me all the way through the south! But people always get confused about it as I grew up in the North-East.
Last month someone told me NO WAY YOU ARE GINGER you are maximum AUBURN. Well NO. It’s unacceptable. Auburn is like… almost brown, you know?!? You might have seen me in the winter when, yes, it gets little darker, but not even close to mahogany! Don’t even try to take this from me. I am GINGER! Dark blond with lots of cupper! (Do you know that actually in ginger hair there is high concentration of Iron, that is to say rust pigments?)
So, that’s my story about being a ginger. Is there any other ginger reader of mine out there?
You can find here other interesting links about this topic:
GENERAL ABOUT RED HAIR