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Wed, 20 Nov 2019 16:42 GMT

The Odd Things People Say to Gingers

Media & Culture

Hannah Bardsley - 7DNews London

Mon, 21 Oct 2019 15:29 GMT

People say weird things to redheads. They always have and unfortunately, they always will. “Eat your carrots or you’ll lose your hair colour!” Really, do you really have that little understanding of genetics Carol?

I am not sure what it is exactly, why we draw so many comments, but the colour of our hair seems to really, really affect people. “They’re jealous,” my mum would say. But some people just really weirdly genuinely do not like redheads. “Euh! I hate rangas,” Was something I heard many times growing up in Australia. Ranga is an abbreviated version of orangutan reserved only for redheads.

It’s just a hair colour! It’s ridiculous, but then so is hating people for skin colour, and well, people haven’t seemed to have stopped doing that either.

But being a redhead is a unique experience. With approximately only 2% of the world being blessed with fiery locks, there aren’t many of us. Only a mere 14 million in a world of 7 billion people. 

Still I suppose that is 14 million people with fiery tempers. Or at least that is what I was told when I was growing up. Which annoyed me, because my temper only ever flared up when someone was being stupid or rude to someone else, or I was arguing with my brothers. I am generally a very even-tempered person. 

Our hair is a pretty standard point of interest for us redheads. If a redhead features in any media, immediately we are compared to them. I don’t look anything like Emma Stone, but the comparisons keep coming, and Emma Stone isn’t even a real redhead…

And then there was the boy who was interested in me, so he bought me a copy of ‘Red, a History of the Redhead’. I am not going to lie, it was an excellent gift, but no one is doing that for blondes, or brunettes.

Then there was the moment when I was on set for a film having my make-up done. The make-up artist said something I will never forget. She said, “I am so glad they hired a ginger. It adds some nice diversity to the film.” If I am the face of diversity in the Australian film industry, then there are some very pressing issues there. 

I am not alone in this though. A quick question thrown out to my fellow gingers reminded me just how universal such experiences are. 

McKenzie, a ginger from Texas said, “Something I really hate, is when people say ‘Wow! you’re really pretty for a ginger!’ I don’t think they realise it, but it’s an insult disguised as compliment. Also, sorry Mum but it’s a major myth that if you dye your hair non-ginger it won’t grow back ginger. I’ve been blonde, brunette, and every shade of red and my natural copper colour has always grown back just fine.”

Mia agreed with the sentiment and said, “I always get jokes about not having a soul because of my red hair. And then there's the famous ‘Kick a Ginger Day’, which - who thought that was okay? Luckily, I've never been kicked, but just the idea of it is really something. Everyone is always calling me ‘spicy’, granted I am, but the red hair probably doesn't help.”

Meanwhile Hayley’s interaction with the public took things to a whole new, but not unsurprising level of bizarre. She said, “Definitely a strange interaction: I was once stopped on the street while walking home by a guy in his mid-ish twenties who said he needed to ask me how much money I would realistically sell my hair for ‘for a school project.’”

It’s not just we girls who have to deal with the weirdness though. The redheaded males get it just as much as we do. We have all heard Tim Minchin’s classic hit, ‘Prejudice, or Only a Ginger Can Call Another Ginger, Ginger.’ Or at least all we redheads have.

The parents of gingers have to put up with unsolicited comments from strangers too and unusual requests. Ruth said, “Always, when you're not a ginger but your children are, ‘Where do they get their red hair from?’” 

The siblings of gingers get pulled into the conversation. Monique said, “As a sibling and daughter of two *'Blueys', I used to get asked, ‘Are you REALLY related?’, ‘Is that your biological dad/brother?’ ‘Is that your boyfriend?’ (brother) ‘Is he adopted?’ (when with our mum).”

Hailey said, “People have offered me well wishes for a non-ginger baby, as in because I'm ginger, I'm at risk of having a ginger baby and that's a bad thing?”

And then come the strange requests to take photographs of your children. Yep, that happens. Ruth said, “A Japanese lady asked to take a photo my one-year-old because of her red hair.”

When you get older, they just ask you instead. Charis said, “When I lived in Hong Kong, random people on the street and on public transport would either take pictures of me or ask to take pictures with me because of my hair.”

I could carry on. We haven’t even covered half of it yet. But hey, if there is one upside it’s that we have red hair. Oh, and a higher pain tolerance, and we make more vitamin D than others. So really our red hair gives us superpowers.

Bluey: noun used as a nickname for a red-haired person. Ironic in origin. (Australia 1906)