Anger · Art · Beauty

Red Hot or Ginger Minger?

My friend Aly has got a bit of a thing for ginger men. I suppose you could say that I have too, given the fact that I’m married to one, but the other day she posted a link to a site called Red Hot. Red Hot is the brainchild of a guy called Thomas Knight, who’s photographed a whole bunch of good-looking red-headed males and is exhibiting them in a London gallery this year as part of a campaign which is associated with the Anti-Bullying Alliance.

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Most people are aware of the stigma which seems to be attached to red-headedness, and as someone who grew up with a ginger Dad and a ginger best friend during High School, it always left me entirely bemused. I could never quite add up, in my head, what could be supposedly so negative someone’s hair colour, but the fact that the Anti-Bullying Alliance are involved just shows how deeply the stigma runs. As a mother to a red-headed child, it’s quite scary, if I’m honest.

Sausage is a pretty girl with a shock of bright red curls (and her best friend at school is ginger, too. In fact there are 4 of them in her class!) and she’s constantly complimented on her beautiful hair. In fact, she’s been know to (sometimes rather obliquely!) announce it at random, to strangers, as if they might not have noticed; “I have ginger hair!”, she’ll proudly say. It’s genuinely painful to me that, one day, that pride herself and her uniqueness might be stripped away by thoughtless bullies who don’t have the imagination to come up with a better insult.

I was under the, perhaps slightly naive, impression that the whole anti-ginger thing was dead and buried. The likes of Damien Lewis, Emma Stone, Julianne Moore, Karen Gillan and Christina Hendricks have done wonders for making the world see how beautiful red hair is (even if some of them do come out of a bottle!) and it seemed to me that such narrow-minded nonsense was long-gone, but if the Red Hot guys are anything to go by, with their PR assault on the UK, then there’s still a long way to go before the insults are completely forgotten.

It was in the news this year that many sperm banks have stopped taking donations from red-headed men altogether because nobody wanted them. So, a woman is so desperate to conceive a baby that she’ll use a donor, but only if that baby has less of a chance of coming out ginger? Madness!

The thing that baffles me the most is that I completely fail to see what it is that’s wrong with red hair? Where I live (and I’m assuming in other parts of the UK, too) there’s a huge trend for girls trying to dye their hair red at the moment. It never looks as nice as natural ginger and you can see it’s fake from the stratosphere, but the intention for redness is there. Perhaps I’m biased because the two people I love most in the world are redheads, but to me it’s gorgeous. I know taste is wholly subjective, but I simply cannot see what is so objectionable about ginger hair that makes people act so appallingly to others.

So, come on people, tell me what it is that’s so bad about red hair? And if you can’t, I suggest you think twice before you make a ‘funny’ comment next time. Let’s change our stupid, pre-programmed bullshit and actually think about what we’re saying and how we’re treating a whole bunch of people. You wouldn’t comment on someone’s race/weight/sexuality in that way…would you?

17 thoughts on “Red Hot or Ginger Minger?

  1. There is nothing wrong with red hair at all, I’ve dyed my hair red recently and I love it. I know a lot people who really love red/ginger hair.
    I think it’s shocking that there’s still any negativity around hair colour, but to be honest I think bullies will pick on anything if they spy a weakness in you. I was bullied and I’m naturally blonde.

  2. My two have beautiful red hair and I hate that they occasionally get comments about it. Its the same as any other prejudice in that it’s irrational, unnecessary and usually passed on by parents making comments!

  3. It’s bonkers but then I suppose so are so many of the things that kids pick on each other for. Hubs is ginger and T is definitely becoming more Strawberry Blond as time goes on so I just plan on telling him how cool it is all the time.

  4. I was a huge disappointment to my nan that I didn’t have red hair like my mom. I think it’s really sad that people are so nasty about hair colour in this day and age .

  5. I couldn’t agree more with you and if I ever hear any comment I’m the first to speak up as I hate this ridiculous school of thought, it’s pathetic and like you say I see women with blue, purple and shocking pink hair and sometimes it doesn’t even look nice at all, give me a true red head any day over a badly tinted blue

  6. I think I need a bit of ‘me time’ now….

    I love red hair – I saved up when I was 17 for a whole month to be able to afford to go to a trendy Cheltenham hairdressers and have my hair dyed copper. That and Damien Lewis proves I am ginger-friendly.

  7. Well said – when I was growing up I was desperate to have red hair…still think its beautiful and my greying locks are dyed reddy-brown. I have Irish blood in me, and there red hair is the sign of fieriness…a much better way of looking at things. However, hair is hair is hair, and we shouldn’t really be commenting on it as a sign of anything other than something to keep our heads warm!

  8. Great post. I have a definite hint of ginger in my hair too, and while I spent many years trying to think of euphemisms for it – strawberry blonde, auburn, copper and the like – I am now a proud readhead. Like you, I’ve really never understood discrimination against redheads, it’s completely insane. So while I’m sad there’s a need for it, I hope anti-bullying campaigns like this can make a difference.

  9. this is a really interesting post Jayne. My brother is a red head and when he was little his hair was a gorgeous bright colour and i now that at the first primary school we both attended there were two other chidlren with the same . when we moved to Devon I think it was not as common and he did stand out a bit. The sad thing is that as soon as he left home and could afford to do so, he has blonde highlights added to his hair all the time now. Yet his hair is not even that red anymore it is a reddy brown and is nice actually but he clearly hates it…..still! BUT it has never stopped the girls from chasing him he has always been more popular with them compared to me and boys!!!
    One of my good friends has gungery hair and it is amazing and she looks beautiful with it, i think that girls / women can carry it off better i think, sadly, it is boys/men who get the stick for it x x

  10. This is one thing that I can say I don’t like about the UK. Having red hair in the US is something cool, and not associated with religion or religious differences. One of those quirky things. x

  11. I always wanted red hair! I’ve no idea what is wrong with red hair, and it’s so sad that children are bullied for it. I’m pretty sure that in the rest of the world it’s not an issue at all.

  12. I coloured my hair red for years and still would if I still had the time and energy. I always said that if there were some way they could permanently alter hair colour I would do it. And I love ginger hair on men too (particularly ginger Scotsmen in kilts, the ultimate in manliness to me!). I find it really bizarre (and really quite disgusting) that it is still socially acceptable for even the most well-educated of adults to ginger-bash and I have on occasion heard adults do it around children. I’m sure they would be horrified if their child’s teacher told them that they had insulted someone based on the colour of their skin and yet they will openly mock something as inconsequential as hair colour. How can a parent teach their child that bullying is wrong if they are learning such ignorant behaviour at home?? It’s very sad.

    I remember the ginger girls in my social circle at school being greatly admired for their beautiful hair, hopefully Sausage will only ever experience that same admiration and avoid the ignorance.

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