Last week Terry and I were in the car, on the way to the gym, when we saw a woman with brown hair jogging along by the side of the road.

So we rolled down the car windows and shouted, “HEY! BRUNETTE! F&^%^*$ BRUNETTE! YOU’RE UGLY!” And then we jeered a bit more and drove on. If we see her again, we’ll try and kick her, though, because that would be even more awesome.

Hee! Honestly, it was so funny, you should’ve seen the look on her face! I don’t know why she was annoyed, though. I mean, has she not got a sense of humour? And the fact is, there was absolutely nothing wrong with what Terry and I did, because brown hair IS ugly. It just is. (Especially on men. It can sometimes look OK on women, but on men it’s just butt-ugly. I’d never date a brunette man, never. I would rather eat glass.) Everyone knows it, so why shouldn’t we say it? It’s just a plain fact, isn’t it? Brunettes are ugly. It’s funny to tease them. If they don’t like it, they should either:

a) Get a sense of humour

b) Dye their hair

Actually, come to think of it, they should probably dye their hair anyway. Why wouldn’t they? If I was a brunette I would dye it. Terry’s hair is black, but sometimes I think it can look a bit brunette in certain lights. I worry about it. It’s why we don’t have children, actually: who’d want to risk the chance of having a brunette? It wouldn’t be fair to the child and I just don’t think I could love a brunette anyway. Thank goodness they’re dying out, eh?

Just in case it’s not obvious, I’m being sarcastic here. And of course,  Terry and I didn’t hurl abuse at anyone from our car just because they happened to have a certain hair colour – or for any other reason, obviously. Because that would be ridiculous, wouldn’t it? And cruel. And it would make us a couple of assholes. Really.

But these are the kinds of things that are said to and about redheads all the time – certainly here in the UK, and in other places, too. Take this article, for instance, on an American site called Kotaku. Its author writes about his obsession with a video game, and comments:

“This is probably the most pathetic thing I’ve done in my entire life, and I’ve dated redheads. “

Right. So it would seem the old “gingerism” is alive and well in the US, too. And don’t get me wrong: I get that this is probably an attempt at “humour”. I understand that, and it’s far from the worst example of “gingerism” I’ve seen. I just don’t find it funny. It’s this kind of casual prejudice, when exhibited over a long period of time, that makes people think it’s OK to “hate” or despise a certain group of society, purely because of their genetic inheritance.  (And actually, some people DO refuse to date redheads, because they’re too “embarrased” and don’t want to be seen as “pathetic”. )It’s the throwaway remark, the un-funny “joke”, the blithe assumption that no one can possibly be offended because, hey: IT’S OK TO HATE REDHEADS. There is absolutely no taboo about it, as there is (and quite rightly) about making hate-filled comments directed at the colour of someone’s skin.  People defend comments that reinforce prejudices towards redheads because, after all, EVERYONE hates redheads, don’t they? And comments like that: they don’t actually hurt anyone. “Sticks and stones,” after all.

Perhaps the people who think it doesn’t do any harm, though, would find it interesting to speak to the person who emailed me just yesterday, having read some of my other posts about “gingerism” . This is a man who had been beaten so thoroughly beaten for being a “ginger” that he had required hospitalisation several times as a child, and eventually had to be home-schooled because the bullies wouldn’t give up.  Not so funny now, is it?

Or perhaps they would like to speak to the kids who were physically assaulted on National Kick a Ginger Day. Or the man who was stabbed in the back after comments about his red hair. Or the family who were forced to move house in a bid to stop people kicking and punching their redheaded children, and spraying graffiti on their home.

Funny? Well, not really, no. Maybe it’s just me?

This wasn’t the only example of casual “gingerism” I came across this week, though. Take the case of the Dulwich Mum, who posted a video (which she found on You Tube) of a redheaded child, on her blog. The post attracted a number of comments, some of which, like this one from a blogger called ‘Pig in the Kitchen’, chose to focus negatively on the child’s hair:

“He has to find some way to compensate for being ginger.”

Because yes, of course, we gingers DO have to always find ways to compensate for our… our what? Our disability? Our affliction? Our downright ugliness? Is that what’s being suggested here? Sure sounds like it.

Against my better judgement, I left a comment on that post, knowing perfectly well what would come from it. And it didn’t take long before someone calling herself “Titian Locks” responded with the predictable:

“Sorry all you “ginger ” nuts but get a sense of humour…”

Yes. A sense of humour. That’s what’s needed here. We just need to all lighten the hell up and understand that bullying, prejudice and hate is actually FUNNY. That’s why the very next time I see that brunette out jogging, I’m going to walk up to her and smack her in the face. Then we’ll both laugh about it, and it’ll be, like, SO hilarious. Won’t it?


(Note: I just wanted to clear-up a misapprehension that exists about my occasional “gingerism” posts on this blog. I realise the nature of these posts can make it seem like I spend a lot of time thinking about this, or that I get very, very upset over comments that other people probably see as no big deal. I don’t, and I don’t go looking for this stuff either: most of the time people email me with links to it, because they know it’s a subject that interests me. Sure, these things get my hackles up, but I just want to be clear: they don’t hurt me personally, or upset me. I’m very happy with the colour of my hair, and no amount of “jokes” or nastiness about it is going to change that. The reason I write these posts is because these kinds of comments are insidious: they have become the “norm”, and that’s something that does bother me. I don’t like the thought of a society where it has become “OK” to express prejudice against certain groups, and where anyone who dares to speak up against that prejudice is branded “humourless”  or”over-sensitive” and told to get a life. And so I feel that when this kind of thing occurs, it’s important that it be called out, and recognised for what it is: it’s bullying and it’s prejudice, and it’s NOT OK.)

  1. Whew, I never knew that it had this kind of dimension in some parts of the world. Sometimes I’m worried that normal people are dying out and stupid people will take over the world sooner or later…

    Nina´s last blog post..Stempelmesse SÜD

  2. I don’t know how anyone could think that making violent remarks about someone’s natural hair colour isn’t prejudiced and so, for that matter, funny. And all this, while Americans loudly pat themselves on the back for electing a black president. We’re just all so evolved, aren’t we.

    Amanda Nicole´s last blog post..a writer’s worth

  3. The dislike of red hair is a phenomenon that I have never understood. I remember as a child I would hear jokes about red haired stepchildren from adults and I didn't understand what was so funny because I have always thought red hair was lovely. I have dyed my own brown hair red more times than I can remember.

  4. I’m not a natural redhead, but I’ve been dying mine for the past two years now and I never want to go back to blonde. I have never even heard of gingerism until I started reading your blog, and I’m shocked that there are people who would actually say and do things like what you describe based solely on hair color. Especially when red is easily the most beautiful shade that nature can make.

  5. I’ve never really understood the ‘bash a ginger’ mentality either. I don’t get why it seems OK to physically or mentally hurt another being for the simple colour of their hair. I just simply don’t get it.
    I’d like to presume some of these people would be horrified to hear their comments replaced with Black, Pakistani, Muslim, Jewish or any other racial/ethnic/religious group instead of ‘ginger’ and then hear how it sounds but I think some of them probably wouldn’t be too bothered by that either.
    My best friend for several years at school had red curly hair and it was beautiful but sheesh, the comments she got everywhere were just horrendous. No wonder she emigrated.

    Camilla´s last blog post..All the small things

  6. The regression of the human race is in full swing. In my short experience of life I have found most people look down on others far too easily. It might be based on physical appearance, because they like sport, what they spend their money on, the clothes they wear, the music they listen to, basically anything, no matter how insignificant…

  7. I work beside a natural red head and her natural colour is glorious really beautiful, such a deep shade of red and so much of it… But she insists on blonde highlights covering all but every trace. I think she would be gorgeous if she let it go – her skin colouring is more naturally suited to red, but nothing will convince her, meanwhile I have to play at being auburn… What with the grey sprouting from every folicle now. 🙁

    Hel cruse´s last blog post..People Say, I’m the LIfe of the Party

  8. I'm a brunette and it feels so boring some times… If my skin was lighter I would totally dye my hair as red as yours!

    People who judge are just showing how inmature and intolerant they are…

  9. For a moment I was feeling quite scard reading you blog.

    Was worried that the normal, friendly Amber I know had gone a it loopy with the brunette bashing but thankfully all normality was resumed.

    I think that it is disgusting that in this day in age people still have to find something about another person to make fun off or pick on to make themselves feel good – it makes me sick. As someone who was picked on in school (primary and secondary) because of something that is completely not my fault (I was born with my nose the shape it is) I can identify with people being picked on. It is no wonder that some people go to extreme lengths of plastic surgery, self harming or worse to escape the torment. I don't think the bullies know just how much your self confidence is damaged by these jibes – let alone the physical abuse that some people endure.

    Well done for having the confidence to have stand up to these bullies.


    <abbr>Mhairi´s last blog post..Eye eye</abbr>

    1. Hey, enough talking brown head! 😛

      I never noticed you had a nose of disproportionate proportions. The next time I see you I will be sure to think of a suitably bad insult to hurl at you 😉

      1. Hey – you are only a couple of shades darker than me – behave yourself.

        I am starting to think there is nothing wrong with my nose, everyone always tells me that now but for a while I really considered plastic surgery to rectify it. Even now if someone offered me any single procedure with no expense paid a nose job would be first.

        <abbr>Mhairi´s last blog post..Eye eye</abbr>

        1. For what it's worth, I have never noticed anything untoward about your nose! I know what you mean, though – once you've decided you don't like something, it can become the only thing you see when you look in the mirror, even although other people probably wouldn't even notice it…

  10. I remember seeing an episode of ‘Sabrina’ where she became a ‘geek’, which was pretty much summed up as: has glasses, asthma and likes science. And it was totally accepted that geeks get bullied and the geeks were largely accepting of this themselves. And I sat there, glasses on, inhaler in the cabinet and picture of the Apollo missions on the wall and thought… huh.

    Some things are just discriminated against and it’s supposed to be okay – no one would complain to the Daily Mail if someone made a joke about “speccy four eyes” or “ginger” or any of that nonsense. Yet when Jade Goody was racist, some people thought it was fine to be glad she was dead – and say so on public forums. Racism/sexism/homophobia are not deemed acceptable (and nor should they be, let’s be clear) but calling someone names or making jokes about them for pretty much any other *unavoidable* physical aspect… heck, that’s grand.

    I wonder who sits down and says who can and can’t have a problem with someone discriminating against them? “Racism, ah no, can’t have that. Ginger? Oh come on, it’s funny! They don’t have a sense of humour, put them in the ‘fire at will’ box…”

    Sadly, until there’s a death or a string of deaths, it won’t end… and as soon as there is some kind of ban or restriction on discrimination for hair colour or similar, people will be accused of “PC gone mad!”. Can’t win. I’ve stopped trying.

    I love “gingers”, I married one. We are totally not breeding, ever, though. Can you imagine? *shudder*

    /essay (sorry!)

    Toni´s last blog post..Back To The Land of Fear

  11. You know, two of my sisters lucked out with red hair. My mom's a redhead, too, and it runs in her family. Me? I wind up dishwater blonde. I covet my sisters' hair color. I have dyed it red so many times, but it really is the hardest color to maintain. My theory is that everyone's jealous.

    Also, you know what's hotter than a redheaded man? Neither do I.

    <abbr>Leigh´s last blog post..N.Y.C. Smooth Mineral Starter Kit in Basic Brown, Part 1</abbr>

  12. I know what you mean! As a blonde, I get abuse for my hair color too. I’ve had so many guys tell me that they’d NEVER date a blonde or that blonde hair was their biggest turn off. When I got indignant about it to one guy, he just said “NO, I just mean I don’t like FAKE girls.”
    So blonde is synonymous with fake…?

    I guess gingers have it even worse though. People don’t really bully people specifically for being blonde. I’ve never understood it. I think red hair is great. I also like my blonde hair. People are so lame.

    Anna´s last blog post..To prom or not to prom… that is the question?

  13. As a redhead married to a redhead man, and having an (obviously) red headed child, I know how you feel. I don't know if you see lots of commercials where the redhead is the nerd, the dumb one, etc etc but we do hear and it's really irritating.

    My husband had a terrible time as a child…he actually has a red afro, though his hair has now darkened to auburn. Things are a bit better for my son, but it helps that he is very self confident, and thinks his red hair is a gift.

    I'm from Canada originally, and people seem to like redheads there…why is there no much anymosity in the UK?



  14. I never cease to be appalled at the behavior of the general public. This past week I watched an episode of Scrubs and South Park (I don't usually watch that one) that both talked about redheads having no souls. And while I know South Park is known for trying to offend people, I think their mention of it just shows how widespread it is.

    I also wonder with things like this why other people even care what color someone else's hair is(or, alternatively, why they care what anyone else does at all)? I mean, do they not have enough going on in their own lives that they have to be concerned with another's?

    <abbr>Hayley´s last blog post..In Case You Didn't Realize It…</abbr>

  15. It breaks my heart to hear the awful things done and said to redheads. My mom has the most gorgeous copper hair (alas, mine only appears reddish in certain lights) and she's forever getting compliments on it. She heard the typical nicknames like "Red" and "Feisty" in junior high, but I've never even heard of someone giving remarks like these were I'm from. (Heart of Dixie, USA)

  16. You know its not just redheads.. Have you forgotten DUMB BLONDE jokes? I'm a blonde and I do actually find it quite offesive but doesn't stop anyone does it..

    1. Never heard of someone being stabbed because they were blonde. I might be wrong and blondes are the regular target of physical violence and verbal assault just like redheads?

  17. You know, it never ceases to amaze me how hilarious some people think they are.

    To be honest I was never really aware of how openly antagonistic people can be to redheads until I married one (and he's a total fox), but apparently it's totally fine to be incredibly rude to their face. Oh……. and to shout things at them in the street.

    As a dishwater dull brunette (oh noes, don't kick me!) I've died my hair red countless times over the years because I love it. When we were in Australia we found out redheads are called blueys but there was none of the associated vitriol and it was great.

  18. I'm so glad the red-head haters aren't in full swing here in the U.S., however it will never make me feel worse about my hair. I have naturally red hair, and have always been proud of it because, besides the obvious fact that it's gorgeous, I feel like it makes me stand out in a crowd. I've gotten a few comments, but nothing to make me think it's hitting epidemic proportions here in the states.

    I know it irritates you, and it would definitely hop a train straight to my nerves as well, but just try and remember that either they are looking for a way to make themselves feel better or they are jealous of our hair (and they should be!).

  19. Ooh, Amber, thought you might like to hear this. Positive ginger discrimination. Now, I know positive discrimination is in it's own way just as bad, but this makes a nice change…

    At my local chippie the other day, we were informed enthusiastically of their new offers. Monday night – 20% off for the over 60s, Tuesday – 20% off for Students, Wednesdays – 20% of for bikers (!!) and finally… Thursday – 20% off for Gingers. The guys used to be ginger, and said he was fed up of the bullying and bad stuff that goes along with it. So he was giving ginger people an advantage. Oh, and with my dull was-dyed-months-ago reddish hair, apparently I can get in on the offer too!

    Sure, equality is the end goal here. But cheap chips on the way? Not a bad idea!

    <abbr>mysterycreature´s last blog post..Woop!</abbr>

  20. Hello Amber, I've been following you for several months now and frankly didn't understand the extent to which you decry anti-redheadism. I guess it was ignorance, and metered thinking, concerning other injustices etcetera. Then I read the comments on this:… and it made me so angry I couldn't finish reading. I'm 19, 5-foot nothing, sport a brunette pixie cut and I have ALWAYS wanted red hair. I think it is amazing that such ignorant in-breds even exist. Anyway, I will not ever be dissmissive of your anger on this subject again. Thanks for sharing your life with the anonomous masses, Elle

  21. "I just don’t find it funny. It’s this kind of casual prejudice, when exhibited over a long period of time, that makes people think it’s OK to “hate” or despise a certain group of society"

    That is really well said – its terrible. I can't think of another 'minority' group in society who gets so much crap, from everyone. It's disgusting.

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