Gingerphobia?!

Chloe Jackson, 

As long as people can remember, red hair has been viewed as the lesser of the three hair variances. But fear not gingerphobic people! Scientists have discovered a way to test for the “ginger gene” which causes the red locks, so couples can see whether their future kids will be free from carrot tops.

Science is something that brings wonderful new discoveries; saving lives, prolonging it for those who aren’t as lucky and reducing the pain in the process. Science fixes, or at least tries. So, is science looking at fixing gingerness through this radical new testing, which would therefore deem the rare hair colour as a bad thing?

Red hair has always been seen as negative. Throughout school, there were countless “GINGER!” taunts I would receive, with the more creative saying such like: “Oh look, there’s something on her head and it’s ginger.” These clever people were clearly stating the obvious. Yes, my hair is ginger. But why did they feel the need to shout it at me? Because it’s seen as an insult, that’s why. More to the point, why is it okay?

There are several speculations where the dislike to the beautiful red has come from. Ancient Greeks believed that redheads would turn into vampires after they died. Others have associated it with the Devil. During the 16th and 17th century witch-hunts, redheaded ladies would be burned at the stake for simply having the hair colour. Hitler was even reported as trying to ban the marriage of redheads so they wouldn’t produce “deviant offspring.” So what we can see from here is that people are clearly scared. I might start being scarier.

Back to the testing for what is known as the “R gene.” As a recessive gene, MC1R (as it is scientifically known) means couples can only produce children with golden locks if they both have it. You don’t have to have red hair to carry the gene either. (Oh, the irony if those meanies from school had children with red hair.)

Is it really that much of an issue that scientists think it’s necessary to spend money on something that is after all, a simple hair colour? The only thing that I think would come from this is that couples would split up so they don’t have a baby with blazing hair. I seriously can’t think of anything more stupid than this test.

As only 1-2% of the world are lucky enough to have the hair colour (making it the smallest minority) it’s definitely something that should be celebrated more. There’s the annual Irish Redhead Convention who do just that, where red freckled beauties unite from all over the world enjoying all things ginger. There’s also Anthea Pokroy, another redheaded beauty, who photographs gingers. Her website, Icollectgingers.com, currently has 505 photos of people who possess the hair.

I love the fact that people are embracing the colour, finally. But so many people aren’t too, because of the taunts throughout their life and feeling inadequate. This is probably the part in the article where non-reds will say, “it’s political correctness gone too far” and “it’s all a joke, chill out” or words to that effect. But in this day and age, where racism, sexism, ageism and other “isms” are all rightly said to be wrong, how is it that it is still ok to be “gingeriest?” Because, like all of the above, it is not something that you are in control of, at all. Though there are people who respond to that with “dye your hair.” What if I don’t want to dye my hair? Why SHOULD I dye my hair? There was an awful time, remember, where black people could buy bleaching products to lighten their skin colour and hide who they really were. Incredibly wrong. Why should I have to hide who I am, just so ignorant people will stop calling me names?

It sometimes doesn’t just end at name calling either, with attacks sometimes becoming more than verbal. Last year, 23 year old Alex Kosuth-Phillips, was randomly attacked for “being ginger.” The attacker apparently called him a: “ginger p****” before punching him, which left him having to have metal plates put in his jaw. If this was any other form of discrimination, it would have been widely publicised. It’s shocking.

There was a point where, like most redheads, I felt so awful about having this rare hair colour. But as I’ve grown up, I’ve learnt to appreciate the rare and unique colour. It’s terrible that scientists have created a test for the gene, because it would gain very little. It’s even more awful that people think they can say such hurtful, lasting taunts and get away with it. I even had a teacher once comment about my hair colour, as if it were to be something ashamed about. Seriously?! I dream of a day when it’ll become illegal to be taunted about red hair, because it’s awful that people don’t want their children to have it for this simple reason. No doubt, people will think I’m a typical “fiery redhead” for writing this article. But I’m not fiery… until you tell me I am, but remember, as Tim Minchin says: “only a ginger, can call another ginger ginger”.

4 COMMENTS

  1. The gene was discovered in 1999. It was not researched so people could choose not to have ginger babies. It is kind of shocking that no one ever cared enough before to find out where red hair comes from. If someone wants to go through the intense process of in vitro fertilization to make sure and make babies in a petri dish to test for the gene mutation before implanting the eggs inside them, they have way bigger issues than just hating gingers.

  2. I am a redhead myself, but there is one thing I’d like to discuss. And that is: I don’t believe we are the smallest minority. I believe there are less Native Americans than redheads and I also think there are less Aboriginals than redheads. Or do these groups not qualify as minorities? I am thrilled to have such a unique hair colour and I think red hair is the most beautiful of all hair colours. But we should be careful about giving ourselves labels that may not be ours.

  3. It’s a proven fact that Gingers are spawn of Satan, you can see the hellish grin in their face. They are devils, devils I tell you. We should stop them all, before the prophecy can come true. A prophecy which I only heard – maybe made up – a minute ago. A prophecy, which will doom us all.

    And besides, everyone knows that if we didn’t have gingers then the economy would work better.

    *Disclaimer: I base these results and findings on absolutely nothing.

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