Why Do People Hate Redheads?
Unnatural Hate for Natural Redheads
If this is the first time you have ever considered that there are people who hate redheads just because they are redheads, then it is already quite apparent that you are not a redhead. Being a redhead is a unique experience. I can't lie, it is pretty cool to be a part of a global population of whom only four percent of people share my hair color. I've certainly gotten a lot of attention over the years because of it. However, some of that attention may surprise you. Read more on how part of the world looks at redheads, and how the other part tries not to.
Why Do People Dislike Redheads?
It seems like the world has a fascination with redheaded people, something about the rarity of the hair color elicits reactions from everyone else. Redheaded people are constantly depicted as having fiery tempers and being less attractive than people with different colored hair.
Much of this has to do with an ingrained cultural bias towards redheads, who due to their rarity, have been shunned by society at large for a long time.
At times throughout history, redheads have been persecuted, and the trope of red hair has been used to give characters firey tempers and attitude problems. Red hair has also been associated with magic and witchcraft.
- Fairies are often associated with redheads due to their strong association with mischievous natures and supernatural talents.
- Depictions of redheads in St. Paul's Cathedral, as well as the Sistine Chapel both show Adam and Eve before Eve grasped the forbidden fruit. At St. Paul's Cathedral Eve sports a fine long blond mane of hair, while in the Sistine Chapel, she displays brown locks. However, in both scenarios, once the fruit has been taken, the next in the series shows both Eves with long red locks.
- Later, Eve's son Cain had a head full of red hair, and also a swift fall from grace.
- Earlier Egyptians considered the color red so unfortunate, that they had ceremonies where they burned red-haired women alive to get rid of the tint. When they weren't burning them alive, they were burying them alive as a sacrifice to the god Osiris.
- Redheads are often depicted as untrustworthy; this dates back to the story in the bible where Judas, the betrayer of Jesus, was nearly always shown with red hair.
- It is widely reported that Hitler banned the sanctified union of two redheads fearing that their children would become "deviant offspring."
- During 16th and 17th-century witch hunts in England, many redheads were stripped to look for marks of a witch. Marks of a witch included moles, scares, or freckles. This made the lifespan for a redhead in England during this time very, very short.
Redheads in Popular Culture
We've touched on a good amount of superstitions and cultural associations that people have when it comes to redheads, but in recent times there have been some startling depictions of red-haired people in the media. We see plenty of red-haired actresses like Emma Stone, Lindsay Lohan, and Amy Adams dyeing their hair to make it a totally different color and plenty of recent studies have shown that women prefer red-haired men the least.
So, we know that having red hair is typically seen as a negative, but it wasn't until South Park got a hold of the redhead hate that the movement really exploded.
South Park and Redheads
The television show South Park makes fun of a variety of people, pretty much no one is safe from the wrath of the show's creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. However, one of the more infamous episodes is about redheads. In the episode "Ginger Kids," Eric Cartman goes on a crusade against redheaded people, or gingers, claiming that they are sub-humans without souls who suffer from a made-up disease called "gingervitus." To teach Cartman a lesson, the other main characters bleach his skin, dye his hair, and tattoo freckles onto his body to make him believe he has contracted "gingervitus," which then leads Cartman to establish a "ginger separatist campaign," which leads to more violence between redheads and non-redheads.
While the episode was clearly satirical in nature, many people were not smart enough to understand this and took much of the episode of face value, mocking those with red hair. Some of the more extreme individuals even established a "Kick a Ginger Day" in which redheads are mocked and kicked every October 20th.
Red Head Facts and FAQs
- The gene for red hair is called melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R), it is found on the 16th chromosome.
- Only 2% of people in the United States have red hair.
- In 2002 a scientific study accurately concluded that redheads are more difficult to sedate than any other people often requiring up to 20% more anesthesia than others to prevent them from waking up during surgical procedures.
- Natural redheads do not go grey. The hair turns a shady color first, and then goes white. They often keep their red color later in life than those of other hair colors.
- The name of the country Russia means "Land of Reds" it was named thus in honor of a redheaded Viking named Rurik.
- At the end of the 16th century, it was a well-known fact that the fat of a redheaded male was a required ingredient for poison.
- Archaeological digs in a desert called Takla Makan in China uncovered mummified redheads that dated back over 3,000 years. This may support the theory that the ancient Chinese may have trekked to areas of the world with the highest concentration of redheads, Ireland and Scotland, to steal red-haired women that they believed had supernatural powers. Often when they were shown to not have said powers, they were immediately slaughtered.
- In 2001 an Irish judge charged a man with disorderly conduct stating openly that "I am a firm believer that hair coloring has an effect on temper and your coloring suggests you have a temper."
- Having a redheaded child in Denmark is considered an honor.
- When passing a redhead in the streets of Corsica, you are supposed to spit and turn around.
- If you had red hair during the Spanish Inquisition, you were accused of having stolen the fires of hell, then quickly burned as a witch.
- Aristotle proudly shared his belief that redheads were emotionally unhousebroken.
- Natural red hair holds on to its pigment better, making it difficult to dye.
- Although red hair is actually thicker than hair of other colors, redheads commonly have fewer strands of hair on their heads. Blondes have an average of 140k hairs, while redheads have closer to 90k.
- In ancient Rome and even the Ottoman/Byzantine Empires, redheaded slaves were much more expensive than those of other hair colors.
- A full 24 points ahead of blondes, Redheads surveyed would use the word 'bold' to describe themselves.
- Gingerphobia is a fear of redheads.
- A French study done in 1980 compared three women: one blonde, one brunette, and one redhead. The results of the study showed that the redheaded woman was viewed as more treacherous, more mean, and more likely to be unfaithful than the other two. Suffice to say; the French do not think highly of redheads.
- In the United States redheads are called redheads, often even strangers will address them as "Red" and often they will respond to it naturally, (force of habit) in England, redheads are called Gingers.
It looks like I'll be changing my retirement destination to Denmark, and I'll be staying away from France or Corsica as well!
Growing Up With Red Hair
I guess being any kid is hard, but being a redheaded kid can be increasingly more difficult as time goes by. I really believe this to be a bit worse for redheaded males than females. As I had my own experiences growing up, I was also still a girl, so while the taunts and leers I received were usually of a sexual nature, those that the boys had to deal with were honestly far worse. Far more personal, far more emotionally scarring.
Maybe it was because I was inherently strong-willed but the taunts never really 'hurt' me. They pissed me off alright, but I can't think of one thing that happened to me because I was a redhead that I still feel emotionally scarred from.
I was also fairly lucky. I grew up in a neighborhood full of good ole boys, for the most part, and the teasing and jibes I received from them were never truly vicious in nature. It is odd to remember myself as a small child who was insanely sensitive to the moods and emotions of everyone around here, often crying just because someone else was getting taunted, while I was pre-teen girl who could hear taunts that would make a hardened criminal blush, and not show any emotion.
I guess it helped too that although my mother was very Christian, with Christians being where I have received some of the worst redheaded racism, she also loved my hair. She talked about it to anyone who commented, joked about where it came from, and just, in general, made sure that I never knew anything but pride in my copper mane.
I hate to even admit it to myself, but being the mother of two sons, I was ever so glad neither of them were redheads. I just didn't want to think of my own children experiencing the painful growth through their teen years as I had seen other young boys in my school and community go through. What scares me the most is very often I notice that when young boys commit suicide due to bullying, a high rate of them are redheads. With this hair color being the rarest on earth, what does that say? Appalling.
A Learning Experience
As much pride and honor in my hair as my mother instilled in me, there was bound to come a time when something beyond the weirdo comments the boys in the hood made about my hair would occur.
I was 9 when I was playing on a church playground; a Lutheran church thou shalt not name. As myself and my best friends, twins, noticed a lady entering the outbuilding near the playground, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to get to use the bathroom, snatch some water, and refresh instead of having to walk the entire two blocks home. So we approached her and me being me spoke up, "Can we use the bathroom please?"
She turned to us, glanced at me, glanced at the twins, glared back at me and said, "No you cannot Daughter of Judas, I'd rather you leave entirely before you betray someone I love."
And I was speechless, even if for only a moment. Before I spewed something at her that likely concreted for her that she had a mini-demon hell spawn on her sacred church ground. The thing is, even though my mother took me to church regularly, I still wasn't quite sure what she meant. I only knew Judas was a bad guy, and this old lady wouldn't let me and my friends pee in her church.
Later that night, I asked my mother. "What does it mean if someone says Daughter of Judas?" She shared with me that it was a deep insult given to someone who would betray anyone and everyone in their lives. The scowl on my face probably told her all she needed to know, but when she asked me how I had come by that phrase, I neatly lied and said I had heard it on TV. I don't know what she would have done had I told her, and I don't doubt she would have hunted that woman down and forced an apology, but I had already been burnt by this insult, and I just wanted to seethe alone.
The Angry Redhead
The combination of my views on religions, Christianity in particular, and having blazing copper colored hair has gotten me called angry quite often. And even without the standpoint on religion, redheads are often accused of being angry simply because they can be fairly quick to jump up and get real loud to defend themselves in any battle, verbal or physical.
The thing is, I am not an angry person. I am utterly as laid back as someone can be without sleeping. Nothing really riles me. I don't sit behind my screen and grit my teeth, worry about the woes of the world, or pound my keyboard over random idiots on the internet, and we all know there are a lot of them.
Maybe the bigger problem is that because I believe in live and let live when someone brings an unwanted issue to me I get really pissed off about it. How dare you invade my life with your nonsense? So how does defending oneself against the injustices of life make me angry? Well, if you truly believe that, then you also need to show due respect and honor to those who are 'angry' because in the past, and in the future, these were the warriors of your world.
It's funny; I was a very scrawny kid. I never got in fights until junior high school, and then only 2. But I was also always the first girl picked in school sports, the first one chosen in contests of strength, intelligence, and academics.
In general, women have always treated me far worse than men. There is definitely some truth in the fact that there is a lingering unspoken vibe that the Bible brought into the picture, the one that assumes redheads are sexually promiscuous. However, it is also true that the men perpetuate this nonsense by always thinking they have to pay special attention to a redhead in the room, likely annoying their girlfriends for many reasons. Quite bluntly, men, these days seem to feel like they have to have at least one redhead under their belt, and women of all hair colors know this. It doesn't make things easy for the redheads that really don't want your boyfriend, husband, or partner.
© 2011 Joy Lynskey