STRAWBERRY- Standing Up for Who You Are

Strawberries are best served with cream; this I’ve been told by the strawberry lovers in my life. I personally like them in sugar or some brands of lemonade. They also make a great slushy or smoothie. …) I’ve never really been a big fan of plain strawberries, but that is a personal preference. (Now I’m curious how people like their strawberries…)

But alas, I didn’t start my musings intending to focus on that wonderfully tart and sweet berry. Oh no, I had something completely different in mind. I am a red head, but not the bright vibrant shade of Weasley. Oh no- I am what you more specifically call a strawberry blonde. This happens at times when one parent has the beautiful Weasley red, and the other parent is a blonde.

Over the years, I have had some interesting reactions to my hair. Now I do have to say, I do look blonder in the summer because of sun exposure; but I get to all sort of red levels in the wintertime. Especially living in the Pacific Northwest because it is grey and cloudy 300 days of the year, give or take a day.

When asked what my hair color is for important documents like a driver’s licence, I just say red and move on with no more questions asked. Strawberry blonde is just too specific and often the options are only brown, blonde, black, and red. Because once a redhead, always a redhead, right? But sometimes when asked what my hair color is; it is other people with me, who give interesting answers. I’ve had someone interrupt my answer of red to say, “Well it’s actually strawberry blonde.” On the official list of hair colors or hair types — strawberry blonde isn’t on there as it is under the red category. During this occurrence, the person asking me just looks at me, clearly not sure if this was a new instruction to write blonde instead of red. I just said, “It’s red.” Simply for ease and that is the color I feel best describes it in a general way.

Another story of something like this happening was when I was in school. I was sitting with this girl, let’s say her name was Sally. We were working on an assignments when another girl came up to us to ask us questions for a survey to complete an assignment. I don’t remember what kind of survey it was, but one of the questions was, “What is your hair color?” Sally said hers was blonde and I proceeded to answer that mine was red. Sally looked at me with a wrinkled nose and said in a very harsh tone, “No. Your hair is blonde.” The girl, who was writing down our answers, didn’t write my answer and just looked at Sally and then back at me. I just looked at Sally and explained with a sigh, “No. My hair is technically red. It only looks blonder in the summertime.” I then looked back at the girl and said, “For your survey, my hair color is red.” Happy with my finial answer, the girl wrote it down and left us promptly after that. Sally huffed at that muttering that I was not a red head and most certainly a blonde.

Now I’ve thought about this incident, about how someone was ready to take my ginger card, simply for the fact that I am not a carrot top, but a redhead wannabee. Fact is, there isn’t a group officially recognized for my hair color because it is so uncommon, but if I am standing next to a blonde, I most certainly don’t look like a blonde. I might as well be a carrot cake standing next to them. I fit in better with my ginger clan — I just have a lighter shade of red. But it is still red!

All in all, the moral of the story is… Don’t let other people dictate to you what they think you are. I don’t fit in the blonde box. I don’t want to fit in the blonde box. So don’t put me in the blonde box. You don’t have to get offended if someone puts themselves in a category where they feel more comfortable simply because you don’t agree, because at the end of the day… It’s their life. (Besides people tell me all the red head jokes or send me the red head memes anyway, so I feel like that is a sign I’m in with the reds. People don’t tell me or send me blonde jokes…)

You have the right to stand up for yourself, in a respectful way. Don’t make the other person feel like trash, however. Just like how I corrected Sally, I didn’t tell her she was stupid or wrong. I just explained how I felt and stood up for myself, but I didn’t let her bully me in putting down that I am blonde. Being a red head is part of my identity and it is something that I am going to protect because if I didn’t, and let people dictate to me the color of my hair; I can just tell you right now that my mental health would tank.

A huge chunk of mental health, if not all of it stems from how you see yourself. If there is something about yourself that you take pride in, don’t be afraid to show it AND protect it. Chances are, it is something that adds a special flavor to your identity and add uniqueness to who you are as a person.

Hair color is just a small example of something that defines me, and if someone is not okay with me calling myself a red head, so be it. That is not something I am going to lose sleep over, but I am still going to write down “RED” everywhere I go and no one is going to take that away from me.