All over the world, people who are different from us are seen as ‘weirdo’s’. A red hair person is, from time immemorial, susceptible to be prejudiced or event more, bullied at school or in her workplace.
“What do ginger kids have to look forward to later in life? Going gray”. Many jokes of this king exist, regarding blond people also. However some humans are more likely to be mocked than others, as it is the case of redhead people.
When I was young I was slagging because of my hair colour. People were making me feel like I wasn’t normal. Ginger! Ginge! That was how people were calling me. At that time, all I wanted was to hide but now that I’m older, I feel proud!” – Gill Chapman, a twenty-two-year-old Irish girl.
And this discrimination does not only happen to random people, but also to famous one, as it has been the case for Prince Harry or the actor Damian Lewis in their life before.
According to a study leaded by Kevin O’Regan – himself redhair – ex psychology undergraduate student at University College Cork (UCC), redheads are “more likely to be bullied”. His procedure aimed to better understand the phenomenon of ‘ginger’ discrimination and discern they discomfort regarding their bullying experiences – physical harassment or social ostracism.
He discovers that, more than 90% of red hair’s men had been victimised because of their hair colour at some stage of their lives.
Mostly localised in Celtic countries such as Ireland, Wales and Scotland – they represent more than 10% of these countries’ population, but no more than 2% of the human population. They are considerate as the ‘rarest’ people on hearth, not to mention that only 17% of them have bleu eyes.
In 2013, a ground breaking study leads by BritainsDNA, reveals that more than 20 million people in the UK and the Republic of Ireland are carrying the gene producing red hair.
Gingerism, a sort of racism ?
The French pure player, Atlantico, had made a simple research, on October 2013, on Google typing ‘les roux’, French for ‘redheads’. The first word that followed was “stink”. Curious of what the result could be four years later, I’ve researched it and the result has slightly changed (on March 14th).Discrimination are for long be fuelled by myths. Indeed in Middle Ages fables, they were considerated as witches and wizards and later on, in tales and stories, the idea of discrimination had imposed itself. However, these myths have increased ‘hatred’ regarding this people, whose ‘default’ is to have a different colour of hair.
It seems that judgement regarding redhead people is nothing to be compared with black one. However, we are considerate as racist if we discriminate Blacks or Asians because of their different colour of skin, so why not when we are judging people’s hair?
Some people will say it is different, some others will say it is not. All theses stigmas are dictated by the society but it can be changed. But for now, not much is done to stop this. That is mainly why children at school or adults at work are harassed.
As Kevin O’Regan reports “bullying of gingers is one of the last socially accepted forms of prejudice against people for a trait they were born with”.
The theme discussed in M.I.A’s clip Born free, showing a ‘ginger hunt’ aims to make people feel uncomfortable or even more, terrible, watching what happens to its peers. The whole point is “getting outraged” explains Meredith Clack in the Global Comment. “Racial and ethnic distinctions are often as arbitrary as hair colour, but it’s easy for people to ignore that fact when physical characteristics are our first test of otherness” she attests.
Restoring redhead’s image
For long, not necessarily on purpose, big companies such as Apple has fuel and maintain this discrimination. However, the brand Apple seems to have finally pay attention to this issue and, last January after a big campaign on Twitter, has released a new update with red head emojis representing redhead people.
2. Events organisation across the world
- The election of the world’s most beautiful redheads in a bid to ‘re-brand the ginger stereotype’.
the fact that there is an event to showcase a positive outlook on ginger people says quite a lot in itself – Jamie Roberts, journalist for the Unilab
- The International Kiss A Ginger Day, every January 12th since 2009, a day created by Derek Forgie.
- The Ginger Prides, are since August 2013, running every year across Europe, in Northern Ireland, in the UK, in Germany, in Italy, in the Netherland and in the Republic of Ireland for example but also in different states in the US, in Australia and in Brazil.
In France, this year in August and for the first time an entire festival will also be dedicated to red head people. Everybody type of people and hair are welcome to come. So are you in?