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The Life of a Soulless Ranga

By Jessy Thurston | Illustration by Dayna Patel

Alright team, it’s about time the redheads take a stand and have their voices heard. After years of relentless name calling and hours spent trying to convince people “It’s not orange, it's strawberry blonde,” having the ginger-tinged hair colour that I do has forced me to grow a bit of a thick skin.

“So Jessy, what’s it like not having a soul?” The amount of times prepubescent boys have chirped up with this cliché of a line and thought they were brilliant comedians is laughable. It started in primary, with the names they yelled at me feeling like targeted attacks every time they circulated the playground. Now don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t alienated or anything. This isn’t going to be some tragic story of how a poor little ginger girl cried her way through her school years. Nah, I’m not settling for that. Plus, I knew that even for 8 year olds - if insults about my hair were all they could come up with, then life couldn’t be too bad.

Carrot top, Ranga, Gingernut, Freckleface, Hot Head, Gingerminge...all of these have become so familiar that I’ll turn my head as if it’s my own name being called whenever I hear them in the distance. It’s also super common for people who first meet me to make a statement along the lines of “I bet your temper is as firey as you hair lol.”

It’s not all bad though, this piece is not just to complain about the nonsense that ensued from my natural-born weave. The colour of my hair became my identifier. I began to embrace it as my friends quickly adopted ‘Ranga’ as a nickname for me...and I thrived from it. In year 9, my close group of three and I consisted of two redheads and a blonde, so we outweighed the pack. There was a power in being a pale, freckled, carrot top. The name of the notorious orange drink Fanta quickly became known as ‘Ranga juice’ and was consumed on the regular to keep us fired up and ready to clap back at anyone who tried to use the hair as an insult against us.

There was a power in being a pale, freckled, carrot top.

We even had our own day for a while - The Edge radio station held a hug-a-ginger-day for a few years, which I personally took on like a second birthday - a day to celebrate the red sea of gingers who had taken shit for so long. In intermediate I even held a sleepover party for this, putting on a spread of all orange-coloured finger food. Twisties, Jaffa’s, Gingernuts, Ranga juice (obviously), and a Hell Pizza Roulette for that quintessential fiery kick.

After a while, my other ginger friend moved away and I was left to my own devices, becoming the token ginger of a new, bigger friend group. It’s definitely a lot of fun to have a unique trait that everyone knows me by, but the novelty can tend to get fried out and overused at some points. At university, I met my current best friend, who recently claimed the colour of my aura was orange. She insists it isn’t about my hair colour at all, rather that it reflects my personality, but still...thanks Ruby, that’s original. At least I didn’t say yours was red because of your name - cop out much.

Here’s a quick-fire of some well-kept secrets about the uniqueness of red hair that most people don’t know.

Redheads need 20 percent more anesthesia than other people, because we process pain differently. We’re more sensitive to pain from extreme heat or cold (I still have a gnarly scar from the salt and ice challenge ten years ago), but far less sensitive to pain from electric shocks.

Bees are more attracted to redheads - the orange tinge in the sun makes us look a lot like a flower that needs pollinating.

We can produce our own Vitamin D - meaning if the sun exploded and the world went dark, we’d be the last to survive. Imagine the repopulation of a new world with only gingers...this is the kind of power I’m talking about.

Only 1-2 percent of the world has red or ginger hair. You’re all just clearly jealous. I wouldn’t know what that emotion feels like, considering I don’t have a soul in the first place.


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