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Give people with red hair some love

red hair 330px-HH_the_Prince_Harry

Prince Harry

I had no idea that the term “ginger” was an offensive term for those with red hair.  Apparently, the term is used to ridicule entire populations of people who happen to have red hair.  They are sometimes considered targets, sexulized and bullied. Really, I had no idea.  I think it’s because as a Black woman, hair color has been much less of a discussion point for me than hair texture (sample from any of the past year’s blog posts and you’ll likely gain insight into hair texture).

red hair Elizabeth_I_when_a_Princess

Elizabeth I

Yet, hair color seems to be much more of a concern for non-Black people, especially White people.  I recall Chris Rock’s famous insight that White women seemed to be obsessed with blonde hair, with many White women dying their hair blonde.  So, I’d heard about the pursuit of blonde hair, but I’d never heard about the teasing that some may endure just because they have red hair.

I came across an article “Seeing red: why we need to be sensitive about using the word ‘ginger'” on  www.theguardian.com (http://www.theguardian.com/media/mind-your-language/2014/jan/24/mind-your-language-red-hair).  I must admit that I cringed at the sexist references littered throughout the article but I tried my best to chew up the meat and spit out the bone (I hope that doesn’t offend my vegetarian readers!).  I’m curious to know what you all think about the article.

Did you know:

1) red hair is the rarest hair color?  Only 1% to 2% of the world population has red hair.

2) Scotland has the highest concentration of those with red hair? 13% have red hair and 40% have the recessive red hair gene.

3) Polynesians have a significant incidence of red hair?  In Polynesian culture, red hair is a mark of high ancestral descent.

4) The stereotype that people with red hair are “hot tempered” in part comes from 19th century work (i.e., Cesare Lombroso & Guglielmo Ferrero, see below for link) which associated red hair with lust crimes and asserted that almost half of women criminals had red hair.  Geez.

If you’re interested in this topic, here are a few links that educated me on this topic:

– Wiki on the history of red hair

– Wiki with famous list of red heads

– Duke University Press link to “Criminal Woman, the Prostitute, and the Normal Woman” by Lombroso & Ferrero

  • Amy Donovan

    Thanks! This rang true for me. I’m mainly Scottish, some English, Welsh and German. Both of my parents had dark red hair.
    In my experience people of all complexions make comments about white hair color. People pursue blond hair sometimes when they’re older but I heard a lot of “dumb and dirtzy blue eyed blond” comments and jokes until about age 30.

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