Monday, September 28, 2009

In Defence of Redheads

I may or may not be a redhead. It shouldn't matter, one way or another, should it? No more than my eye colour or my height or the colour of my shoes.

But it does, to many people, not the colour of one's hair generally, but the colour of one's hair if it happens to be red.

If I were a redhead it is likely that I might have been teased as a child - matchstick, lighthouse, little orphan Annie, all of that - but the teasing is unlikely to have been terribly serious, right, no worse than the teasing every young child endures who earns their stripes at a co-educational school.

Or perhaps it might have been a little worse than that.

Ok, fine, I admit it, I'm a redhead, a ginga, a fanta-pants, a ranga. Please don't stop reading, let me finish, give me the benefit of the doubt.

I am infected with the ginger-gene. Gingervitis. Do you pity me?

I never realised it was an infection until those scholars at gave me something to think about. I never realised I was meant to be embarassed until I went away on holiday with a group of near-strangers and watched the expressions on their faces when they chose for our evening entertainment that particular episode of Catherine Tait - you know the one, it's about a protective shelter for gingers.

Of course I knew I was a minority of sorts. Magazine covers feature blondes or brunettes, not redheads. Features on cosmetics for various skintones or styles for different hair colours generally omit the freckled faces and ginger curls of the McDonald clan.

But it has become cool to poke fun of rangas. Maybe it was always a little bit cool, but it is now the poking-fun equivalent of reality TV, ubiquitous and widely enjoyed (by the baser members of society). A bit of sport. The fast food of poking fun, cheap and readily available.

I read a story not long ago about a couple in the UK with the misfortune of bearing six ginger children. They were forced to move village three or four times in as many years, for no reason other than the appalling bullying the kids endured at school as a result of their hair colour.

One could argue we are the newest minority group in need of anti-discrimination legislation. In fact, we're becoming extinct, haven't you heard?

Truth be told I embrace, me and my ginga friends hang out together and revel in our very gingessence. There are some advantages in redness.

I have observed, for example, through investigatory browsing that most pornsites have fetish categories specifically for redhead-lovers, so there must be some of you out there. And I have been the focus of a 'ranga-challenge' on a boys night out (the challengers were unsuccessful, if you must know, at least with me).

Redheads are sexy, didn't you know? Just look at Jessica Rabbit. Oh, and a German study a year ago determined we have more sex than the average Joe. We must be having it with somebody, and if it was only other rangas we wouldn't be on the verge of extinction.

And being subjected to inevitable teasing as a child gives us a certain water-off-a-duck's back imperviousness to all sorts of verbal jousting and barbs. We can take what we give, give what we take. Redheads are good to be around.

Unless, of course, you step on that hidden fuse and ignite the ginga temper. The myths do not exaggerate. And we can hold a grudge a long, long time. Be warned.

But in my experience rangas rock. Redheads are fun, we are sparky, we are ok with the fact that you can see us a mile away in the sunlight and our skin is almost see-through.

Your life would be boring without us. Admit it, we make you feel better about yourselves.

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