My Redness | Teen Ink

My Redness

March 14, 2008
By Anonymous

Freckles, fair skin, and different from the other ninety-eight percent of the world, I am a redhead. My friends call me a hybrid. I possess red hair, but not the fair skin and abundance of freckles, and my hair does not define who I am or what I believe in; however, it does relate to where I come from and my family traits.

Although I carry the title “redhead”, and at times the attitude that they are known for, I am not your standard version. I have blue eyes, blonde eye brows and my hair is an orange like shade, with a few, gold locks. My complexion is not extremely fair, and I can build a nice tan in the summer months without nearly any freckles, unusual for a red head.
Growing up with three blonde sisters and being the different girl, I never once felt left out or unusual. I liked my hair and thought it was better than any blonde, plus it was all natural.

Since kindergarten, I have received compliments on my hair color. As I mature, my appreciation for this gift from my grandmother and her Irish ancestors grows. However, with my pride flying high from these compliments and my hair blowing in the wind, my flight came to a crashing halt. In the spring of my junior year in high school, my father was diagnosed with hemochromatosis, an inherited chromosome disorder. The pervious spring my niece was born with downs syndrome, which is also the result of a chromosome disorder.
What might these instances have to do with my red hair? At the time, I made no connection between the two misfortunes and dealt with each in their own right. One day I saw a magazine and on the cover saw an article titled, “What’s the deal with Reds—see page 37”. Of course this caught my eye; I flipped to page 37 and began to read.
Apparently, red hair is a defect on the chromosome 16, which causes a change in the MC1R protein in hair. To my surprise, I, like my father and niece, have a chromosome disorder, my red hair.

At first I was humbled and wondered that the hair I love so much is a defect, and thought this cannot be. In further reflection, I embraced the discovery. It did not only give me information about who I am, but also related me more directly to my family, albeit through my “faults”, which I believe makes me more a part of them. So, I wear my red hair proudly and embrace the fact that redheads truly are the “fairest” of them all.

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