Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Gingers: the Ignored Minority?

Admit it, you've probably laughed at a ginger joke or two. Unless, as a natural redhead, you've been totally self-conscious of your hair color since you started grade school.

Even though I feel as though I've always been highly sensitive to minority issues, I've never given much thought to the plight of redheads. Clearly in the spectrum of natural hair colors, red is the least commonly occurring. Hair, for a lot of ethnic groups, has historically been a source of tension. I can definitely see how a young child's self-esteem could be damaged because he or she was excessively made fun of or made to feel different for having a less common hair color.
Too often, I have made light of the situation. Perhaps this is because the word "ginger" is so silly and rolls so nicely off the tongue in a pseudo-British accent. I have to admit: I'm not sure how offensive it would be to be labeled a "ginger." The BBC throws it around like it aint no thang but, I always thought the word carried somewhat of a negative connotation. Perhaps, as red hair is most common in the UK, the term has been re-claimed there, like "queer" but, to a lesser degree.

Regardless of how you feel about the word, check out this article from the BBC. It certainly made me rethink the definition of minority.

I had not realized that anti-ginger sentiment was so severe, or that people could be driven out of their neighborhoods based on the color of their hair. What can I say, humans are shallow creatures. At least, it's nice to see gingers stand up loud and proud.

1 comment:

Michymer said...

As a redhead, I definitely relate to some of what is discussed in this article. I remember being called all kinds of names on the playground..."Big Red" being the most memorable. It bothered me to an extent when I was a kid, but once I got to high school, I started getting noticed more for my hair in a positive way. I started to play up my red hair and super pale skin. I stopped trying to tan (which I was never able to do) and started showing off my white, freckled legs.

I have had guys who won't even consider dating me because I have red hair and they've dated a redheaded bitch, so they think I'll be just like she was. There are a lot of stereotypes about redheaded women, mostly concerning us being some version of devilwomen. This is really entertaining to me because there are several redheads in my family, and we're all pretty happy, normal people.

Random story: when I went to Japan as a little kid, I thought I was the coolest kid ever. No one there was used to a redhead so they all would come up to me and my sister and want to touch our hair. It was definitely an interesting experience.

I don't think I feel a need to come together as a community or have a pride day, but I probably got off easier since my older sister is a redhead. She pretty much broke everybody in and I wasn't a big deal. I only remember one other redhead from elementary school, maybe 2 or 3 from high school (including a teacher), and none from college. We are definitely a rare breed, which is one of my favorite things about being a redhead.