The Girl with the Red Hair


About two years ago, at the end of my last high school year, I decided to drastically change my appearance. Going into this change, from high school to cegep, I felt the need to have the whole “new year, new me” mentality. With that said, I went from light brown hair to bright red hair. As much as I loved this colour and this change, I received a lot of weird comments and something in particular started happening.

I started getting weird sexual comments about my new appearance, some were nice and some weren’t. The ones that were not the nicest could end up being seen as sexual harassment. I had gotten comments such as, “wow you can pass for a sexy porn star”, “you’d make a great naughty secretary”, “I’ve always had fantasies about red heads”, “you’re actually nice, it seemed you were just a snobby bitch, I guess it’s because of the stereotype about red heads”, and much more, but these being a few of the worst. What hurt me the most with these comments was that they were said by people I thought were my friends. I couldn’t help but to feel as if changing my hair was a bad idea, but I did truly like the colour, so I kept it for about nine months. I decided to shake off the negativity and continue living my day-to-day life.

The worst timing for the public harassments was when my hair would be freshly dyed. Because it was so bright, a lot of people would stare at me. My hair literally made heads turn. Mostly men. Mostly old men actually. Because of the hair, I was getting harassed in the streets, I was being catcalled and I was stared at from extremely awkward angles. It got to a point where I was scared to be alone because I was scared to get attacked. It had also gotten to a point where I was counting how many times a day I would get obviously “checked out” and, if I recall, the maximum was six to seven times in a casual day. I have never worn provocative clothing, which only led me to think that my hair was bringing me too much unwanted attention. In general, I am not someone who enjoys having attention fixated on me, which is why this kind of harassment truly bothered me. These catcalls and the stares lasted all throughout those nine months until I decided to change once again. This is why I now have black hair. I decided to go with something that was natural, common and not seen as too “crazy”. As much as I liked my red hair, the harassment I got was not worth it and I saw a drastic change in the harassment after I dyed it black.

Most positive comments I got about my red hair were from girls, and some of them will ask me to this day “will you ever go back to red?” and my answer is usually a simple “no”. As nice as I found it, I do not want to relive those hard nine months. Also, I get comments such as “you are so brave to change your hair drastically from one colour to another”. As fun as it was to change my appearance, it was done for a reason: usually so people wouldn’t recognize me. This should show how much the need for attention on my part is extremely absent. It is sad to say that, still to this day, the harassment hasn’t stopped but it sure has gone down. I have grown used to it and do not pay attention to it.