Thursday, 12 February 2009

Youth Unlimited Magazine on ginger phobia

The UK has one of the highest population percentages of redheads in the world, but words like ‘ginger’ and ‘ginga’ still roll off the tongue towards those gifted with this follicle rarity. Is it all just a bit of red-blooded fun or has Britain got ginger phobia?

The persecution of those with red, auburn or ginger hair is not a modern condition and has persisted throughout history and around the world. Just as often as redheads have been discriminated against they have also been upheld and praised. Socially, redheads have been stereotyped as being fiery, hot tempered and overtly sexual, and although it is clear that the way we act is not attributed to hair colour, history’s most famous ‘gingers’ have helped to promote these ideas.

As early as the ancient Egyptians there is evidence of Cleopatra dying her hair red, continuing to impress redheaded stereotypes upon all those aware of her volatile nature and political prowess. A more recent and recognisable redhead is our own home grown Queen Elizabeth I who popularised red hair throughout 16th Century Britain. Even modern media has been affected by the recent influx of redheaded style icons such as Lily Cole, Axl Rose and Nicola Roberts inspiring people across the world to reach for the dye bottle.

However, whilst many famous redheads have inspired us, the everyday redhead on the street still faces some ridiculous and shocking challenges. In 2003 a 20 year old was stabbed in the back for being ‘ginger’ and in 2007 a family of redheads in Newcastle were forced to move home after being targeted by neighbours for their hair colour. In a world preoccupied with political correctness and protecting the rights of people regardless of race, age or size, it is shocking to see a form of discrimination such as this overlooked by organisations like the Commission for Racial Equality, even though most people with red hair will experience anything from timid taunts to full blown violence throughout their lifetime.

The question is why are people with red hair targeted? The simple truth is that only 1 to 2% of the population is born with red hair, making them a minority. Throughout history society has victimised minorities. In other words, we, on a subconscious level, fear what is different and will victimise those who are different in any way to make ourselves feel better. As well as this, the victimisation and discrimination of redheads is still a crime largely beyond the reach of the law and until such time as it is recognised as unacceptable it will continue to be an issue.

Hate shouldn’t be a follicle matter and only we can stand up for the rights of those different to us, not just redheads but anyone who is born a little different to the norm - and isn’t everyone in their own way a little different? If we were all the same life would be horrifically boring so why not praise the differences between us? Red hair is rare and beautiful and anyone who targets those with it are most likely expressing a form of jealousy or, at the very least, showing that they have low self esteem that can only be improved by attempting to bring others down. So next time you go to use the ‘G’ word ask yourself, have I got ginger phobia?

Amy Solman

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12 comments:

mike said...

You know it is funny. I have red hair, and over the last few years I have dyed it black and with my black hair, I have had some good "luck". The beginning of this year I decided to attack my head with a bottle of bleach and in doing so it went more towards my natural hair color, which is strawberry blond rather then the straight blond that I was hoping for. Since I had bleached it EVERYTHING went bad, from losing respect from people for no reason to my boss having issues with me. I thought about it and well by the 10th of Feb I had had enough of the BS and dyed it back to black since then I have not had as many bad looks from strangers and people generally just treat me better, it is sad really. One thing that has been noticed is that my eyes seem a lot bigger and therefore look more "innocent" due to having blue eyes with black hair and since my complexion is pretty fair it strikes me as odd that people assume that the black is my natural hair color and that I am not a Ginger. Your article was good and I think that if my own social experiment proves anything it is that people are gingerphobes.

Anonymous said...

Im pround to be a ginger ninja cause ive not took any notice of the comments and discrimination agaist people with red or ginger hair.

mikey said...

you know me havign red hair has been more great for me honestly, all my friedns call me ginger and evryoen loves teh red hair...i see almost no hate for it...i see more love for my hair than anything, and i even joke about my redhair to friends and people i dont know which makes them laugh and its a good way to make friends...laugh with them.

mikey said...

you know me havign red hair has been more great for me honestly, all my friedns call me ginger and evryoen loves teh red hair...i see almost no hate for it...i see more love for my hair than anything, and i even joke about my redhair to friends and people i dont know which makes them laugh and its a good way to make friends...laugh with them.

Anonymous said...

I'd never even heard of gingerism until recently -- we don't use that term in the U.S. I think some prejudice exists here as well. (You hear expressions like a "red-haired stepchild" for someone who is excluded or mistreated.) But it sounds like nothing compared to the U.K. So sad.

Anonymous said...

having red hair made my first and second years of high school hell

I personally hate the word ginga, it is just plain rude. what I don't understand is if I was to start calling people names because of the colour of their skin I would be in alot of trouble but being treated diffrently because of hair colour is completely fine.

Now I love my hair colour, i bet no one in the whole world has the same colour as mine

rell hannah said...

The only rudeness I've encountered is about my freckles and invisible eyebrows/eyelashes. Once I learned how to paint my face, nobody hassled me. Harder for males, of course. But the key to rebuffing bullies is to exalt in your difference, no matter what it is. Hell, there are so many advantages to be melanin-light!

Anonymous said...

EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW

Anonymous said...

never thought there is discrimination juz because of different hair colour...

Dan said...

Think you might like this story - my gf is red-head.

http://www.theanecdotalist.com/2010/06/in-the-field

Would appreciate seeing feedback - let me know!

Anonymous said...

I'm red hair phobic. Natural or dyed, it makes me cringe. Every. Single. Time. I have this automatic dislike for redheads and I wish I didn't. But it might be because every redhead I've known thus far have had awful personalities. So it's an ingrained reaction. :shrugs:

Anonymous said...

I personally love being a "ginga" my nickname is the "ginga ninja" i do not take offense to any remarks made about having red hair. im rare. the sad thing is girls dye their hair to have my beautiful one of a kind red hair. and as for the freckle situation a guy once told me "freckles are beauty marks and your covered in them. whats that tell ya?" so i think the reason behind ginger bashing is because were different, unique, and easy to spot in a crowd. :) and only 1-2% of the worlds population is redheads. (natural ones anyways) were rare which makes us more exciting thats why bitches hate us!juss sayin.

Love a proud effin ginga (er is offensive must use an a) :)