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Wednesday, 22 February 2012

How to Survive Being Ginger

Picture attribution Melbourne Weekly Eastern
There have been a number of news articles recently about people with ginger hair suffering because of their hair colour.

There has been someone teased so badly that his parents removed him from school and a poor woman who has had a childhood photograph circulated and has received actual hate messages on her facebook page.

At first I did not understand this at all. It is hair. In many cases, ginger people have thicker hair per cm than other hair colours, and it looks much shinier than normal. So, in essence, what we are talking about is a beautiful, thick shiny head of gorgeous colour hair.

But of course, people are ignorant and lazy and stupid and it is 'fun' to mock something which is different or strange or in the minority, so it is very easy to believe that some people are mercilessly taunted for nothing but their hair colour. Even reading that sentence back seems ridiculous, but it happens everyday, so it is something that many have to live with.

A search through Google is not very enlightening either. The first four pages of a search have websites which seem to do nothing but make fun of ginger locks. They are in this category : the ginger survival guide. This page amounts to nothing more than race hate and should, in my opinion, be removed from the internet. It is a treatise on how to 'cope' in the presence of Ginger kids and ends with a chapter on how to kill a ginger person. Reading this drivel made me realise that this is a serious problem.

What about in the past? How much did Boticelli love ginger hair? A lot. As did many of the Renaissance painters. Ginger angels, women, men and gods are perfectly common in hundreds of paintings. Why? Was ginger hair more valued perhaps, because it was rarer? Like gold? In fact, the ancient Greeks died their hair ginger to denote courage.

Muslims are not allowed to dye their hair back to its original colour, but are allowed to use Henna. So many older muslim men, especially in India have red hair and beards.

Many famous and influential people in the past have had red hair. Queen Elizabeth I, Winston Churchill, Boudicca of the Iceni, Vincent van Gough - there are many long lists on the internet.

Recently, Prince Harry, Nicole Kidman, Geri Halliwell, Lindsay Lohan, Rupert Grint, Emma Stone, Lily Cole and a host of other people have flaming red locks. Marilyn Monroe was a red-head!

And many people dye their hair in various shades of red every day.

So it is really difficult to know what to say to people who are undoubtedly suffering.

Some people find it easy to embrace their looks in general no matter whether they fit stereotypical, media-depicted versions of normalcy. Others struggle with their self image no matter what others tell them or however realistically they fit the mold of good looks.

So, How to Survive Being Ginger?

I do not think it is a good idea to hide from something as fundamental to your identity as your hair colour. It may be a solution for a few years, but surely not for the rest of your life. If people are teasing you, just imagine how much satisfaction they would derive to know that their teasing is working.

There is a story where two people with ginger hair who lived in a house together found out that their house was being called the Ginger Palace. Instead of being upset, or lashing out, or hiding from this, they decided to hold a party where only people with red hair were invited and this has become a major tradition for them.

The fact is that bullies and idiots will always pick on difference. But the important thing is to hold your head up high and be the person you are and show all the idiots that they are the losers.

But just learn to live with the nicknames about your hair and your skin and your freckles. You know that everyone you meet will have some comment to make about your hair so next time someone says 'Carrot top', just laugh. Carrots are green on top anyway!

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