I recently came across this June article from BBC News Magazine called, "Is gingerism as bad as racism?" (For anyone unaware, Britons refer to red hair as "ginger".) The article says that in Britain redheads are often the butt of jokes and mocked without the same fuss made over racist or sexist jokes. "In adult life, women get stereotyped and red-haired men take much of the worst abuse. Treatment of red-haired children in school ranges from mild taunts to grim persecution."
The article also speaks of photographer Charlotte Rushton, a redhead, is working on a book called Ginger Snaps. She says that of the 300 redheads she chronicled, only 2 have never been bullied because of their hair!
Interestingly, this seems to be a uniquely British problem. Rushton says: "In other countries redheads will get teased at school but it stops when they become adults. If you are a woman you are fiery and alluring, beautiful."
And Michael Elliot, an American who runs a British children's charity, says: "There is nothing like this in the US where having red hair is not a precursor to having someone abuse you. Red hair is considered glamorous."
As a redhead, I must say that it what I have found. Other than being asked if I have a bad temper (I don't), or the one stupid 14 year old boy who asked me a highly inappropriate and personal question regarding my hair in 9th grade, I have never been made fun of because I'm "ginger haired". In fact, it's exactly the opposite. Since I was a child, I've had strangers comment on my hair. One old man in a Cleveland grocery store even touched my head in disbelief when I was about 4 years old. And my husband certainly is enchanted by it.
But I have also felt that for some red hair is either loved or hated. I found that especially true for guys. Some are either very attracted to it, or aren't really at all. I had a hair stylist once who told me that when she first lived in Provo, she had her hair super blonde. As a blonde, she would get asked out all the time. But after she colored her hair red (and it was really cute, as was she), she got asked out way less. Interesting, don't you think? Of course, this was also in Provo, where for those of us who have lived there, blonde does seem to be the hair color of choice, whether natural or not.
I also think that there is a double standard for male redheads. I will be the first to admit, that I think there are way fewer good-looking red-haired guys than red-haired girls. I wonder why we think that. Of course, I've just never been attracted to guys with red hair. It always seemed like just too much of a good thing. And I felt like people would think we were related.
So while the prejudices aren't nearly as bad here in the US, perhaps they do still exist. What do you think? I know there are some redheads out there reading this! Have you guys ever been picked on because of your hair? For the rest of you, have you ever felt there was a prejudice against redheads?