24-year-old Pooja Ganatra is your typical Mumbai resident. She loves her family and friends. She gives to charity when she can. She’s entrepreneurial, having started her own clothing manufacturing business. But she was born with a few crucial differences that have led to a lifelong struggle. Pooja was born with red hair, light skin, and freckles – more closely resembling someone from Ireland than anyone else on the Indian continent!
The young woman was born to fairly typical Indian parents, who were stunned when she was born. Her red hair and striking emerald eyes make her one of a kind in a country where anything other than dark hair and eyes sticks out like a sore thumb.
Unique features like this are celebrated in many places around the world. India has a rather inclusive culture though, and so it has led to some struggles for Pooja as she has grown up.
“When I was born, my family had never seen anyone who looked like me before because they all have brown skin, black hair and brown eyes, like most Indians,” she told Mirror UK. “Everyone in my neighborhood was absolutely fascinated by me and were all very curious as to why I looked so different.”
Nobody had any explanation for her unique features. Genetics can be a very mysterious science, and perhaps she just had the perfect concoction of recessed genes to cause this huge difference in appearance.
“When my freckles started appearing everywhere when I was three, because none of my relatives had ever gotten freckles before, they didn’t know what they were,” she continued. “I was rushed to the doctors because everyone thought it was a birth defect or skin disease.”
This led to a lot of struggles for Pooja, especially with other kids in school. They would come up to her and question why she looked so different than everyone else. Pooja didn’t know how to answer because this was the only body she had ever known.
Apparently, this sort of discrimination extended beyond just her peers though.
“Even in my first year of university, I was pulled aside and told not to wear sleeveless shirts because they were ‘too eye-catching’ with my white skin,” Pooja said. “There was no rule against sleeveless clothing and every other girl dressed like me, yet I was singled out.”
India was colonized by several European countries over the years. The British ruled India for over 100 years by themselves, so it’s certainly possible that she has some British lineage in her. Her appearance is far too specific to be a simple case of genetic mutation!
“I’d love to get a DNA test one day to discover more about my ancestry because I don’t know anything about it,” she said. “I have no idea why I look the way that I do but a test into my genes could explain a lot. My grandmother died when my mom was very young, so I was never able to ask her about it but I’m very curious.”
What do you think of Pooja’s unique appearance? Share your thoughts in the comments!