Growing up, I was one of the only kids with red hair. I always stood out when I never wanted to. Boys always teased me, insisting my red hair was orange, not red, and often called me a “soulless ginger” (thanks, South Park). Women would always make a fuss over me, commenting on how “colorful” my hair was and how “different” it made me look. No matter where I went, my red hair was always the center of attention.

I hated it. 

Luckily, I had found a solution to help me blend in with everyone else: dye my hair.

READ: 10 Things Only The Redheaded Child Of a Redheaded Parent Would Understand

I first approached my mom about it when I was in middle school. One of my sister’s friends—who is also a natural redhead—had used temporary dye to turn her hair dark brown during summer vacation (we went to Catholic school and one of the rules was young girls were not allowed to dye their hair) and I thought it was a great idea. I’d be able to see if I liked the color and I wouldn’t get in trouble at school. There was no way my mom could say no.

But she did.

I was devastated. She claimed I was too young to dye my hair—even temporarily—and told me we’d revisit the topic when I got into high school.

Fast forward to my freshman year and I’m talking to my friends about changing my hair color. They all think it’s a great idea, that they’d love to see me in something other than red. Their encouragement made me think this was the right choice, that my hair would look prettier if it was a different color. I went to my mom again, hoping she’d finally let me go through with dyeing my hair.

She said no.

But, her reasoning was different this time. Instead of claiming I was too childish to make such a big decision, she told me something I wasn’t expecting: that I’d regret it later.

And you know what? She would have been right.

It took me too long to realize it, but my hair is beautiful. All red hair is, no matter how light or dark or curly or straight it might be. 

If my mom had let me dye my hair, I would have never realized that. I would have never appreciated the fact that people actually wanted to dye their hair my color—and that I was lucky enough to be born with it! 

Now, when people ask me if I dye my hair, I feel proud to tell them that it’s natural. If I had gone against my mom and changed its color, I might have never gotten it back. Thanks to her, I learned to love my locks and it’s given me a confidence I never expected.

So, if you’re thinking about dyeing your hair, consider my mom’s advice before you do. I know that it can be tough to find beauty in being a redhead growing up, but one day you might just fall in love with it if you give it a chance. 

Rock it like a Redhead!