real life

The unspoken pain of growing up ginger.

Ranga, fanta pants, tampon, bluey, red, carrot top, bloodnut, Annie, Ronald McDonald, Chuckie, are only a few of the things I have heard over the last 20 years of my life.

“You should get a spray tan!” “Do you have rubes?” and “Do the curtains match the drapes?” are a few of the questions men feel are appropriate to ask. Women frankly don’t care.

My parents had some explaining to do when I was in junior school. I had already noticed I was ALWAYS cast as Ariel or Ginger Spice playing dress ups. The other girls had heaps of Disney characters to choose from.

Listen: Can you dye your hair while pregnant? Pregnancy myths busted.

I didn’t really recognise I was different to the other kids at school until in Grade Four a kid didn’t want to sit next to me and made a huge fuss. I would have accepted that he didn’t want to sit next to a girl but he thought I was evil. Because I had red hair and pale skin he thought I was albino and the Papuan village he came from believed albinos (who also can be redheads) were involved in witchcraft.

Aside from that rather bizarre situation, I found I was often the focus of unwanted attention from a lot of older women who would constantly come up to me and touch my curls and pinch my cheeks (they loved the ginger!). Even as a young child I didn’t like people invading my personal space so that kind of attention weirded me out and I noticed it wasn’t happening to any of my friends!


It got harder through high school when I realised how few red heads were on the covers and pages of all the teen fashion magazines. All I wanted in high school was to fit in but that wasn’t going to happen unless I completely changed my genetics. I was a triple threat in nerdy ginger terms with curly red hair, braces, and spectacles. I was the real-life Eliza Thornberry.

Yep, I looked just like Eliza Thornberry. (Image via Wild Thornberrys.)

I recently heard Ed Sheeran talk about how he was one of those rare dorky specimens. But look at him now! I am so grateful to the few actresses who rocked being ginger through the 90s and early 00s like Debra Messing, Julianne Moore, Jerry Halliwell, Nicole Kidman, Isla Fisher and Amy Adams. They have been my icons.

I once worked as a body double in a feature film where four redheads were hired. When I arrived on set the wardrobe people were mortified. I was the only authentic red head; the others were all very unnatural bottle jobs. I was the one they were unhappy with. They had to find me a wig to make me look like the rest.

So, I was never to get a job as a bikini model. Tish!

My mother never let me dye my hair or get a spray tan. I am now so grateful I didn’t. Wearing a rashi vest and sunscreen as a kid has protected my skin and will help me age gracefully. Now it’s the popular thing to do. I now realise that being a ginger is a blessing and the reality is that being different is something to celebrate.

Luise Scott is promoting the return of the Ginger Pride Rally, hosted by Buderim Ginger, to celebrate the uniqueness of all things redhead! The Ginger Pride Rally will be held at Federation Square in Melbourne from 11am on 29 April.

Registration opens at 9:30am that day. To register visit The Ginger Net.