If anyone were to ask me what my favorite feature about myself is, I would say my hair. No, it’s not because it is a particular length, nor has great volume or whatever. The reason why I love my hair so much is that it’s ginger. I consider myself a very proud Irish girl, and even more, a very proud ginger person. I have all the standard features Donnaassociated with being ginger. I have red hair, pale skin, freckles, bright eyes, and unfortunately, a terrible relationship with the sun. So, I guess a question is: why would I have to be proud of it? Many different people have many different hair colors, so why aren’t they all standing tall and declaring themselves proud? Well, I think the reason for that is because out of all the hair colors, ginger hair is unique and the most different, and as the saying goes, people usually hate and fear what is different.

I deem myself pretty lucky. I grew up with great parents and fantastic friends. I did well in school and tried my best to stay out of trouble. However, trouble always seemed to find me. I moved around a lot because my parent’s job kept us on the road, so I went to many different schools. I didn’t mind it at all, I loved it in fact. Except for one thing. While some of the kids were nice to the “new girl”, I mostly got the piss taken out of me and for all the reasons people could have chosen. It was for my hair. I was teased, bullied, and beaten up just because I am a ginger.

People say words can’t hurt. That is a lie. Words do hurt. Being called a “vampire”, “fire crotch”, “zombie”, “the un-dead”, “freak” or “ugly” repeatedly hurts a lot. Being asked if I should even be allowed out during the day, or if my freckles really are everywhere was too much for me to take, especially at such a young age. What was worse is that I got beat on. Girls liked to corner me, pull on my hair and hit me. Boys liked to spit on me and asked perverted questions about my hair and my freckles. I know not all gingers have it rough, but I guess in this case, I was one of the unlucky ones. It did such major damage to my self-esteem. I hated myself. I never wanted to go to school. I gave into what people said about me. I thought I was a freak and a monster. I thought I was hideous and I never wanted to look into the mirror. I could not tell my family. They have always taught me to be strong. Being Irish is hard enough and my family is used to hearing bad things, but adding on being a ginger, and it’s worse. I am an only child and neither of my parents have red hair, so, that was another reason for my hatred of myself. I wondered why I had to be ginger. I wondered why I couldn’t have blonde or brunette hair like them. It was terrible.

So, by the time I was about twelve I was pretty depressed with no way out. Sure, I could dye my hair but I couldn’t change my skin color or remove my freckles. I felt trapped in a body that I knew would be rejected for as long as I lived. Then it happened. I was watching the telly one afternoon and I saw it. It was a preview of some sort to “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”. I had never read the books, but of course, I heard of them. I just never had any interest in them. However, I watched the preview and saw the most amazing thing. One of the main heroes, Ron Weasley, was ginger. In fact, his entire family was ginger. Instantly I was intrigued. Gingers are never really seen as heroes. The girls are either highly sexual or dangerous; and the blokes are usually nerds or too afraid and timid to save the day. However, Ron Weasley was a hero. He was strong, brave, funny, and completely attractive. Therefore, I was suddenly interested. I saw the movie when it hit theaters just to see him in action and I was in love. It had nothing to do with the plot, the special effects, or even the acting. I fell in love with Rupert Grint.

I loved seeing him be humorous, brave, confident, a bit sarcastic, and other things that I have never seen from such a young ginger on screen. In fact, I had never seen it at all. That’s why the previews to the movie drew me in. There was a whole bloody family of gingers kicking arse, and that was aharrypotter5pic74(2) wake-up call for me. For the first time, I saw a ginger hero. I saw one in the flesh. We don’t get too many of our own in such a major role, so there was no way I could stop. Therefore, automatically Rupert drew me in because of his hair and I instantly became a fan of his. After the first one, I knew I had to watch them all as soon as they came out, and I’m glad I did. The movies are great, Rupert is wicked as Ron, and represents us gingers perfectly in his role.

I felt an instant connection to Rupert when I’d watch him on screen, and I still do. I watched his interviews, read things he had to say, and did as much as I could to get to know him. There is this confidence about him that I really love and I can tell that he’s proud of what he is. It was strange to me. There I was, scared to go to school where I could be attacked; but Rupert Grint was out in the public eye. Millions of people could see him and make judgments, but it didn’t seem to bother him. In fact, sometimes he likes to draw attention to the fact that he’s a ginger. That takes a lot of courage!

As I watched Rupert more and more, I found a few things in myself. I was so happy and proud that he was a ginger. I felt so lucky that Rupert was one of our kind; and in being proud of him, I found pride in myself. It’s not easy. We live in a world of South Park episodes, terrible Halloween and Christmas cards, websites, and jokes made just for gingers. I don’t, and will never understand it. It’s just a hair color and pale skin; but apparently, it makes you something evil and it makes people want to make fun of you.

Over the years, I fell deeper and deeper in love with him and now it’s more than a feeling. I know I have a deep connection to him and I haven’t even met him. He is more than an actor or a celebrity to me. He is a hero. He is a role model and an example of what real gingers are like. I see so much of his personality in me and in my mates; it’s very easy to look up to him for strength and courage. In his interview on Rove in 2009, Rupert was asked if he thought he was a role model for ginger people. He said, “Yeah, I think I represent the ginger people.” He’s certainly correct! He has no idea what he does for the ginger community. He’s gaining so much attention and is used a lot now for famous ginger people. Every time I see an article using Rupert as one of the famous gingers, I just feel my heart melt a bit. He is so our Ginger Hero. He’s the ideal example that gingers are not freaks and we’re not the living dead. We are real people. We have lives and feelings just like everyone else. We can be successful, popular, and kind. We can be attractive, funny, and outgoing but more importantly, gingers can be shy, quiet, and display manners. Not every ginger is either a nerd or a bad arse. Rupert Grint breaks so many stereotypes for ginger people and more importantly, ginger males. One of my male cousins is a ginger, and he always uses Rupert as his example of what ginger men should be like. He looks up to him as a male role model and he respects him so much. Rupert has no idea that behind him is a ginger army of supporters.

Rupert is marvelous. The way he carries himself is inspiring. So many of my ginger friends and family members brag about having Rupert as our hero. He really is a star and a beacon of light for us. Rupert’s fan base is also inspiring. I think it is wonderful that all his fans just love him, his hair and porcelain skin. It’s great that so many people from so many different backgrounds all agree that he is beautiful. It’s touching and makes us ginger people feel even stronger. It can be hard feeling attractive when you have such pale skin, freckles, and really piercing eyes; but the fact that all his fans find those qualities so appealing about him gives me and the ginger community hope.

grint-cherrybombOver the years, my love and respect for him has grown to a level that I can’t even describe. I saw “Cherrybomb” in Dublin and it is one of my favorite movies of all time! Because of not only the plot, the location, and the acting, but Rupert was once again in control. He was smart, sexy, confident, and a ladies’ man as Malachy. He was all of these things while still being a ginger. I love that he didn’t dye his hair for the role. I love that he is always a ginger. Some celebrities are quick to dye their hair or want to cover it up, but I do not think Rupert is, or will be like that. It really lifts my spirits and gives me strength even on the worst of days. So many times I think, “Well, Rupert does it. I have no reason not to.”

However, it’s not always so easy. It’s really terrible feeling like you’ll never be loved or accepted. It can be lonely and terrifying as well. It’s so important that all gingers find something in themselves to love and hold on to. It’s also important, I think, to have a role model. Rupert Grint, and even Bonnie Wright, are great examples. Their Ron and Ginny Weasley characters are the epitome of strength and love. Watching them and watching Rupert, on and off the screen, has helped me love life and myself again. It’s a blessing really. When someone asks who my hero is, I proudly say Rupert Grint.

Now, I could not care less what people have to say about me. I am stronger and much prouder of myself. I love myself and what I look like. It’s easy for me to be proud of my skin, freckles, eyes, and my hair. Ten years ago, I would never have the stomach to say, “I’m ginger and I’m proud of it!”. But now, it’s like second nature for me, and it’s something I do often. I hate what has happened to me, but in a way, I’m thankful for it. My experiences have helped me to keep an open mind; because I know what it is like to be hated against for stupid things. I know what it’s like to be ridiculed for something out of one’s control. I feel a greater connection to people and I always try my hardest to be fair and kind. I could never do to others what has been done to me. If I hadn’t gone through it, I don’t think I could say that as confidently as I can now.

londonRupert Grint is the main reason why I’m not afraid to go out and live and why I’ve been able to find some humor about bring ginger. Rupert is such a beautiful man. He has a light and a spirit behind him that is immeasurable. He is so kind, smart, brave and absolutely gorgeous. Rupert is my hero and I love him so much. The days that I feel down thinking about my past, and the days where I hear about something awful being said or done to a ginger, I think about Rupert. It lifts my head a bit higher and I’m able to get through it. I know he gets through it, and I know I can too. He takes everything that happens to him, good and bad, and is able to learn from it and keep that amazing smile on his face. It’s not easy for him at times. I know that, but he does not let it stop him. His confidence and courage bleeds out of him, and touches me and other gingers, who need him as our guidance. It’s such a powerful feeling and makes me so emotional and full of hope.

There are so many examples I could give about Rupert saying or doing something amazing in regards to him being ginger, but I picked this one because it’s recent and because it brought me automatically to tears. It’s a prime example of Rupert being one wonderful ginger! On the “Half Blood Prince” DVD, Tom Felton asked the question about what the stars would change most about the world. There were many great answers like war and poverty, but Rupert’s of course, really touched my heart and hit home. He simply replied with, “Everyone to be ginger would be good. A ginger world, that would be cool.” It melted my heart. I cried. It was unexpected, but completely expected coming from him. It’s comments like that that make me love Rupert a little more each day, and make me love myself more as well. It’s the way he said it, and the smile on his face, that makes him a true leader and a fantastic role model. I know he’s not just proving everyone wrong for himself. He’s proving people wrong for me and for all the other gingers who are cast aside because of minor details.

I give Rupert Grint so much credit for what he does, and I love him so much. Every day that I wake up and I’m able to look in the mirror and like what I see, I thank him. It’s because of him that I’m a proud ginger. It’s because of his courage that I have courage and strength to stand up for myself and others like me. If it weren’t for Rupert Grint, I don’t know where I’d be emotionally. He’s done more than entertain me. Rupert has reshaped my life just by leading with his confidence and pride.

Thank you Rupert Grint for being my muse and my Ginger Hero!

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22 Comments

  1. Anna (Pffff!!) says:

    Thanks for sharing your story Donna.

  2. tleo03 says:

    Thanks for a great article.

    And you have nothing to be ashamed of, you are beautiful and it’s refreshing to see someone so proud of who they are and not try to be someone they’re not!

  3. Regina says:

    That was awesome! I love gingers and reds or what ever you want to call them!

  4. Jim says:

    Im from ireland too and im ginger and i wish i could share your views, im 19 a guy and am pretty much depressed every day of my life because of my hair. I think im destined to be lonely

  5. DJ says:

    I’m a 25 y.o Scottish and Ginger bloke, got abuse (mostly verbal, sometimes physical) EVERY day at School and still sometimes get abuse. I agree with what Jim says above. My self Esteem is none-existant and this 10 years after leaving school. All my friend seem to get girlfriends easily but i’m always left on the shelf like i’m damaged or faulty.

  6. jo says:

    Nobody is destined to be lonely! Don’t think like that. I commend you guys for making it through horrible situations like that all based on something such as your hair colour. Trust me those people abusing are very unhappy lonely people inside with their own securities and so they feel they need to take it out on other folks. Stay positive!!

  7. Tao says:

    Jim and DJ, I hate this for you. The majority of us at ICM are so attracted to redheads. We love male gingers! Some of our readers/staff members have redheaded husbands/boyfriends! So do not lose hope. You guys have beautiful hair, beautiful eyelashes and I bet on the inside you have beautiful hearts! We know Rupert does!!

    I truly do hope that Rupert’s presence in Hollywood helps break the stereotypes. I can tell you that here in the US, our Verizon commercials seem to have so many gingers lately. We have hit TV shows with redheads. (“The Middle” has a gay ginger man and “Grey’s Anatomy” has Kevin McKidd, a beautiful ginger man!) The tide is turning and hopefully you guys will get to experience this change. 🙂

  8. Kathleen says:

    Your story is so inspiring but very sad. I’m ginger and I wish I had more confidence. I don’t know that they are necessarily connected but often I felt when I was younger that the reason why I felt so isolated and alone.
    I’ve heard comments by Emma Watson and other HP actors that Rupert is fairly shy but still confident. That means so much to me. It shows me what shy gingers can do.

  9. Bianca says:

    What a great article! I don’t understand why gingers get so much hate. They’re just like everyone else. I’m not ginger, but my boyfriend is, which causes everyone in my school to call me “mental” for dating a ginger and finding ginger guys attractive. It’s so ridiculous! My boyfriend is one of the best people I have in my life and I find his red hair sexy 😀

    Rupert’s a great role model and I’m so happy he has given you more confidence. It would be great if he came upon this article. He’d be so touched.

  10. Lorna says:

    Donna, this is a great article. I’m a journalist and would be interested in getting it into a magazine for you (you’d get paid too). Email me if it’s something you’d be interested in. All the best, Lorna
    lorna@famousfeatures.co.uk
    01293 459 873

  11. AL says:

    Great article!! All the best for you, Donna.
    I am not ginger and there in Finland aren’t ginger people almost at all, but I have always wanted to be ginger (I don’t know why), even as when I was child. I think gingers are beautiful, most beatiful at all and you are beautiful, Donna!! (and of course Rupert is…awesome..the best!!)

  12. JILL says:

    I am a brunette with a natural red tint to my hair, and my whole life I’ve always wanted red hair. I’ve dyed it red twice, but nothing is as beautiful as a natural red head. You are extremely blessed, don’t ever be ashamed. To me, gingers are beautiful creatures. It is extremely rare, and an amazing gift. I wish I was lucky enough to have natural red hair. I love finding red heads at my school and talking to them. I always tell people how amazing red headed people are. I joke and say They are like the unicorns of the human race, so pure and rare and innocent.
    Rupert Grint is one of favorite people ever, he’s a wonderful actor, very talented and best of all, a ginger.

    Always be proud of your hair, marry another ginger, and make pretty babies. and please.. never dye your hair.

  13. JILL says:

    @ DJ

    You are an amazing person. Please do not ever be ashamed of who you are. Your hair is not only a blessing, but a beautiful, wonderful gift. You are perfect they way you are. If women can’t see that, then they are not worth your time and do not deserve your gingerness. There are plenty of women out there who i’m sure would love to date you, meet you, anything. Keep your chin up . 🙂

  14. Lola says:

    I love your article. I don’t know Rupert personally (though I would love to atleast see him in person) but he seems to be like a relly nice and humble person. There are no airs or star ego with him and that is one of the reason’s why I like him as a person. For all you gingers out there, you are all beautiful and don’t let people’s nasty comments get to you. I’m not ginger but I know what it like when people make fun of you because of your race, language, size or colour. Honeslty I don’t see what’s wrong or funny with being ginger. You guys ROCK!!

  15. robm says:

    Well if that is you in that leader photograph at the top of this article then I can say as a red blooded dark haired pale skinned blue=grey eyed male that you are 100% totally stunningly and irrefutably gorgeous!!

    With looks like that and a brave and emotive personality you have NOTHING to feel inadequate about..you are extremely attractive and would grace any Hollywood movie yourself.

  16. Liam says:

    great article 🙂

  17. gingersnaps says:

    Now everyone can look like rupert with Make Me A Gigner! for iphone!!
    http://bit.ly/ib48JT

  18. iopozi says:

    im ginger and have considered suiciud many times beceuse of gittttts makin fun of me. people who have not got red hair DO NOT have the faintist idea what its like. it gets to you in a way no one can describe. im 12 female and today my best friends(female), friend(who is a boy) keeps on sayin “oh the ginger is drinkin” or “the ginger is gettin angry” . He does this cause he knows it is my week point and i cant beleive my friend likes him after he taugnts her best mate. she sais “oh i like him cause he is funny”. she dosent even get how upset i am 🙁 . suicied seems nice and cuddley and the only thing that is keepinme from killin myself is my family…

    other people dont know how depressin it can be =[

  19. ummm says:

    i think i love freckles, and your red hair. im pretty sure irish girls are some of the most beautiful creatures on earth. blonde,brown, red, black hair, i dont care…irish chicks are great. how did i get here? later.

  20. Jaems says:

    Well Im typical an Australian male , Ive recently started seeing an 5 foot tall Irish blue eyed, redheaded, freckled, beauty , and I think redheads are great,
    Never be down on your self for who you are,people who tease often do so for there own insecurities, its good to be different, be proud of who ou are an I hope for those whom have posted of negative experiances will one day know being a ginger is an attrative thing,

  21. Anne says:

    Awww, I completely understand you… Are you living in the USA or Ireland? I thought having red hair was never a problem in Ireland, but seeing american series or whatever made me realize they were really “racist” against redheads! I’m from France and here it’s such a rare thing to have red hair, I don’t know if I can say I’ve been bullied in my childhood, at least it was not too bad, but I am 21 now and it’s been a couple of years since I’ve been insulted in highschool, uni, and especially in the streets (without talking about facebook or the internet in general)… I’m the only redhead in my familly and most of my friends have dark hair, so it’s really hard to find people who understand how it feels and how serious it can get! People would usually think I don’t have humour or I exagerate, but well I know I don’t, and some days I even find it hard to just get out of my house and go to town alone and confront people’s staring or remarks… And the thing is I know it’s “easier” for girls than for guys, cause you can actually talk about your feelings to your friends, whereas guys usually don’t and their own friends actually bully them for their hair colour! Some of my French friends made fun of Ron the other day, so I said “I love him, he’s my favorite character!” and they said “well yeah he’s alright but like, physically…..” …….. I was soooo disappointed in them, especially because they always tell me how beautiful my hair is (I’m a girl), but when it comes to redhead guys it’s always different, so stupid! 🙁 Anyway, erm, sorry for the lenght of this message and let’s hope people start to accept differences in others, no matter what they are! 😉 <3

  22. Donna says:

    After 6 years I look back to my story with a different perspective. I finally feel at ease with myself and have been given so much support from others and I say thank you. To the bullies I say I hope you realise the error of your ways and hopefully you pass on the wisdom to your sons and daughters. I am proud to be a redhead.

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