Red Hair and Realization

For years, I hated being a redhead. If you’re redheaded, maybe you know what I mean. We stand out in a crowd like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and grow up hearing chants of, “Hey, Carrot Top, I’d rather be dead than red on the head!”

There’s no denying this hair–bright red from the moment I was born.


My whole family was redheaded–all six of us. When we went out in public, people stared like we were The Addams Family.


One day my discontentment got the best of me as my lifelong friend Robin and I headed toward the beach.

I stared at her.

I want to look just like Robin. Tan smooth skin. No freckles.  And definitely no clown-red hair.


Here I am–my skin white as the glaring sand.

We stretched out on our blankets and Robin covered herself in Baby Oil.

So I did too.

No sunscreen.

No zinc oxide like Mother always made me wear.

Getting a tan can’t be that hard.

All day long I copied Robin. Flipped over when she did. Applied more Baby Oil every hour or so.

She never said her skin was on fire, so neither did I.

Even though it was.

That night I smiled through my pain. This thin cotton shirt hurt like the dickens.

At 34, I got skin cancer. (I wrote about it GUIDEPOSTS magazine .)

Probably because of all the times I’d gotten sunburned.

Trying to be someone I’m not.

Over the years, Robin and I’ve had lots of good talks. We’ve thanked God for giving us life, loves, and laughter.

And He’s changed my thinking.

When you finally come to love yourself, something amazing happens.

You stop doting on yourself.

You forget about yourself.

Then, my friends, you’re free to love others.



P.S. Here’s Robin’s incredible blog ALL THINGS HEART AND HOME.


  1. Anna Haney says:

    Wow! This one did not make me cry! Made me smile, deep down. Perhaps it’s because I turned 50 this year and have had to come to terms with a lot of things about myself that I always wished were different; I have learned to be comfortable going out without makeup on. Have come to terms with my body shape (I would have fit into the 50s quite well). Learned to accept that I have a southern, mountain girl accent. Thanks dear, sweet friend.

    • Whew, Anna. I’m good. If I can’t make you cry, a laugh will do too! 🙂 It must come with turning 50–this realization. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I started being okay with myself, but definitely after 50.

      Thank you, my friend. I can’t deny my Southern girl accent either.

      Hugs from hot ‘Lanta.

  2. My cousins (there were 7 children in their family) were all redheads! I always loved their hair and wished I could have their hair instead of my brown. Then, as I got older, I realized that God made me just as I am because He wanted me just as I am. Acceptance is a big thing! It makes you so much more comfortable with yourself and your life.

    • Ohhh, I love reading this Eileen. You wanted THEIR hair, and I’d bet anything they wanted yours. Especially your skin–looks like you don’t burn.

      Acceptance is SO HUGE. Don’t know why it took me so long to just relax into myself.

      Thank you, my friend. Would love to see a picture of your cousins!

  3. Beautiful post, Julie!

  4. All I have to say is your red hair is gorgeous! Mine is from a bottle. LOL But I so agree with what you say about accepting yourself as you are. I’m finally there for the most part. I’m not where God wants me yet, but thankfully, He keeps on working and doesn’t give up!!

    But Julie, haven’t you ever heard that Blondes may have more fun, but when a redhead walks into a room it’s like a thunderbolt?

    • No!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ane, I’ve never heard that one. So, we’re Thunderbolts!! I’d much rather be a thunderbolt!! I never knew.

      Accepting myself took Y.E.A.R.S. And from me to you, I think you’re there, my friend. You’re so much fun to be around. That says a lot!

  5. I love that you love you…red hair and all. Mine is mousy brown, so I color it with a weave they call “golden” I think. Doesn’t really matter what’s on our heads, just that we love what’s on the inside.

  6. No wonder I love you so! In many ways, our lives are duplicated. As a young girl, I laid out on a blanket with a friend and my sister in sand covered in my mom’s JERGEN’S LOTION! We blistered so terribly, that my mom went out to the cow barn and scooped some heavy cream from the tank, added vinegar and kept us rubbed down with that stinky mess. But, the home remedy did calm the burning and kept us from shedding multiple layers of skin.

    • Kellieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-no way! You used Jergen’s! I can’t believe it. Laughing all alone in my office. Can’t believe it!

      And your mother covered you in….cream mixed with vinegar? I’ve had to use vinegar before–in fact that trip I did.

      Love you, my friend. So glad we’re Soul Sisters!

  7. Love the younger us…don’t you wish we could go back and tell them a thing or two, maybe give them this post 🙂 xo (and what’s the first thing I did when my hair turned gray??? I started coloring it deep red, like yours 🙂 xolove u

    • Oh, yeah, Rob. Wouldn’t that be wonderful. To sit down and have a talk with our younger selves.

      Love, love, love your precious comment. Sailed right into my heart. Will stay there forever–you coloring yours like mine.

      Love you always.

  8. Julie, you are as beautiful now as then. Love the honesty – but it did make me laugh.

    • So glad I made you laugh, DiAnn, my amazing redheaded friend!

      Love knowing people laugh or cry with my writing. The goal is to achieve both, simultaneously. 🙂

  9. I love that Robin’s hair is now a shade of red too Julie. My you both looked stunning and I would have been right along side of you dousing myself in baby oil and laying in the sun for hours. My bestie from those days and I have long talked about all the things we would go back and tell ourselves- hmm- sounds like a great writing prompt 🙂 Loved reading this Julie- just takes me right back!

    Love and hugs to you friend!

    • Vicky, Vicky, you too?! You’d have done the baby oil thing?!

      I know…I’ve been thinking the same thing–a great writing prompt. Maybe we should do a tag-team blog with it?

      Love right back to you. xoxo

  10. You are beautiful, especially your red hair. As you know, all my kids and my son-in-law are redheads so I’m rather partial.

    • I LOVE you and your sweet redheaded family!!! We could have a great big family reunion and all blend in beautifully! Minus my children and husband. :/


  11. Julie, Love your post and love your hair! In the past few years, I’ve really fallen in love with red hair and I hate to admit, become jealous. Perhaps it’s because I waver between dishwater blonde and sunbleached blonde, depending on the season. Of course, I now have to help it with a few streaks every now and then. But there are so many benefits to being a redhead! You can wear all the fall colors! I just got a catalog in the mail with a gorgeous redhead modeling all the great fall colors. When I wear them, I look sick. One of my favorite characters was the feisty redhead played by Nicole Kidman in “Far and Away.” In fact, I had her image in mind for a character in one of my books. However, red dye won’t make me a redhead because God didn’t make my coloring fit with that, so I’ll be thankful with the way God made me and thankful you are the glorious redhead you are!

    • Marilyn, you are a gorgeous blonde!! You’re right on the fall colors and being a redhead. I ADORE drab colors like army green and baby poo-poo brown. 🙂 🙂

      I have pics of my novel characters too. Couldn’t write without them.

      You’re right. Your coloring isn’t freckled and fair. You get to TAN if you want to and wear summer colors.

      Hugs to you my dear friend. Thank you. Thank you–you understand. ~

  12. Julie Gilleand says:

    I love your red hair, Julie, it is beautiful! Mine is brown (where it’s not gray yet!) but whenever I do color it I always go red. Well auburn at least. And although I’m not a redhead, I do have fair skin and so I burn very easily. Your story reminded me of when I was in sixth grade. There was a girl named Lynn who I thought was so pretty. I wanted to be just like her. She was popular and even a cheerleader. I tried out but never made it. For weeks I took notes on what she wore everyday, the style, color, design of everything from shoes to pants, tops, skirts or dresses. I also took notes on how she wore her hair. I was going to try and copy everything she did. Well it didn’t work out. My family couldn’t afford to buy me a whole new wardrobe (go figure!) and it didn’t matter how close I came to dressing like her or copying her hairstyles, I wasn’t her and never would be. It took a few mores years to get to where those things didn’t matter so much to me, although I sometimes may still catch sight of someone’s “look” that I wish I had — even though I’ve hit that 50’s mark too, lol. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Other Julie, This is it-This is exactly how I felt!! I only cheered one year (by the way). Robin was always a cheerleader.

      I can just see you taking notes on what she wore—–I SO understand. Wish we knew then what we know now–but I doubt I’d have listened.

      I’m so thrilled for us both! We stopped trying to be someone we weren’t created to be.

      Love you, my friend. XOOXOXOXOXOXOX

      • Patricia Martin says:

        Hi Julie,
        I loved reading your blog! Redheads run in my family and I have always thought red is a royal color. I look forward to reading your next blog! God bless!
        Patricia (:

        • Julie says:

          Thank you, Thank you, Patricia! I love it–Red is a Royal color. 🙂

          So glad you let me know you’re reading. Made my day!! xoxo

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