Wednesday, 11 July 2012

A Rare Breed - Gingerism

Red hair in close-up

Rumoured to be heading for extinction, redheads make up only two percent of the world's population. 

While the pre-Raphaelites marvelled at our beauty, the ancient Egyptians persecuted those with ruby locks. 

Gingerism remains the last acceptable prejudice. 

But isn't it just hair colour?

I was nicknamed many things at school - Duracell, Rooikoppie, Copper Top, Ginge, Carrots and randy adolescent boys always wanted to know if the curtains matched the carpet.

I got teased all the time and I hated it.  I guess it makes us redheads tougher.  I detested my ginger eye brows and eye lashes.  I did everything in my power to cover up my freckles too.  Kids can be cruel and they tried to terrorize and bully me just because of the colour of my hair?  I didn't understand it but I certain kicked against it.

In 15th century Germany redheads were seen as witches and 45 000 were tortured and murdered.  The Greeks reckoned we turned into vampires when we died.  

At least in art redheads have often been given their due:  for the 19th century pre-Raphaelites, the only true beauty was a ginger beauty.  Redheads were transcendent, evoking lust, wealth and godliness.

But back to my school days, and it so wasn't cool at all to have titian locks.  I used to wish I could just "blend in" like everyone else and not stand out like a fucking beacon.  

After school, I was finally allowed to tint my eyelashes and eyebrows which made me look less pasty and ghost-like.  I also dyed my hair dark brown. 

Oh bliss!  How lovely it was to finally blend in and be "normal".  My silky, shiny hair was now dull and falling out in clumps because of all the chemicals from the hair dye.  I eventually gave up when my hair started to resemble horse fodder and I had a few bald patches.

My auburn hair slowly returned and since then I have given birth to two wee ginger lassies. 

I remember when I was pregnant with my first and praying that I wouldn't pass on my ginger genes to the little life growing inside me.  I hoped it would skip a generation (as it often does) and that she would have dark brown hair just like My Boerewors.  I didn't want my little girl to go through what I went through and constantly teased for being different. 

So during labour, my midwife peered deep into my private passage and announced happily "I see a bush of dark hair!" I sighed with relief.  Och, it wasn't 10 minutes later and she said "Oh wait, no, its definitely a red head like her mum".  My heart sank.  I thought to myself "Are you fucking colour blind woman?" or was it just really dark down there in the depths of my Vaginator?

My second daughter came along and she was also a ginger but by the time she was 2½ years old she was blonde and has been getting blonder and blonder since then...lucky her.  Although in winter her hair darkens and you can clearly see the ginger in the sunlight.

I have now learned to celebrate my awesome gingerness.  I'm part of that 2% of the population that are unique.  I now like being different and standing out.  I like to have the shine back in my hair and have strangers point and compliment me wherever I go.    

Every time I go to the hairdresser the stylists gather around ooohing and aaahing over my hair colour and make me promise never to colour my hair.  They always mention that dozens of people come into the salon and PAY big dosh to get my colour hair.  So, I'm a cheap date when it comes to hairdressing bills.  It's simply a cut and blow job and thats it. 

No sign of too much grey hair yet either and it generally known that redheads go grey quicker than others.  I guess I'm just lucky... 40 and no sign of grey hair yet apart from the odd stray every few months.

I've taught my ginger lass to celebrate her red hair - to not listen to those bullies and stand up for herself to taunting and teasing.  I hope I've at least given her the tools to send those bullies to the next girl who wears glasses or walks with a limp.  We all have something we wish we could change.

I don't anymore.

Red-haired photographer Anthea has a blog dedicated solely for portrait series on redheads. 

I still find it facinating how people either admire or abhor redheads.  Did you know we even have a phobia dedicated to us - Gingerphobia (a fear of redheads) or Gingerism (a prejudice against redheads).  I shit you not!

The stigmas and negative spins attached to our personas - the fact that we're all fiery tempered and have sharp tongues.  The general consensus is that we're all highly sexed, mischievous and have a higher pain threshold than most.

Well, I detest all forms of generalisation but I guess is only natural for society to want to put us in a box and label it.

Screw all of you that don't like redheads.  I'm a redhead and proud of it.


Matty said...

The very first girl I ever had an interest in and asked out was a redhead. I've always thought that if there were three equally beautiful women, one brunette, one blonde and a redhead........the redhead is the more attractive one.

dulce said...

I love it!
As I love freckles and every human being for being whichever color their hair, their skin...

oh but REd has that special thing!
I am glad you are proud of it


Susan Erickson said...

I admire the bright shine and color of a redhead. We all try to be different and stand out in a crowd and for you it came naturally! It might take a while to appreciate that. Your children are gorgeous and I hope you let them know how unique and striking their coloring is..... Go Red!

Brian Miller said...

smiles. i think red hair i very pretty...

cat said...

I think your hair is absolutely stunning! I would have loved to be a redhead;)

RawknRobynsGoneBlogWild said...

Only a jealous person would tease a redhead. Your red hair is beautiful!

KrippledWarrior said...

Good for you. Red headed with freckles. I'm in love.

Lauren M said...

Awesome! I hoped I'd have redheaded children, but it didn't happen. My youngest was born with red hair, but it's turned a light brown now that she's five. My mom has red hair and never really talks about disliking it when she was young. She was more concerned about straightening it because it is curly than the color. I have also come into my own and appreciate my thick, curly (sometimes unruly) hair. I love each and every golden and red highlight amongst the dark brown and wouldn't dye it. It's very sad to think that red hair is going to be extinct and truely, people do pay money to have it. The few times I've bought home dye kits I used red, and purple one time. But that's another story.
Good for YOU!

GreenWhisper said...

i like it..feisty! love red hair, and glad you're proud of you should be..tis beautiful :)

Wreckless Euroafrican said...

Nice write - interesting that now, in adulthood, you, and those around you, love your hair, but the same people, 35 yrs ago would have teased you for it!

jenette said...

Proudly fierce and ginger :)

JoeinVegas said...

It looks great on you guys


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