Sophie Wilkinson | Contributing Editor | Saturday, 14 March 2015

Seven Things You Only Know If You're Ginger

The Debrief: Burned skin, celebrities that look like you basically everywhere and a fair whack of bullying, this is what it's like to be ginger...

Emoji have become our go-to shortcuts for things we want to say. That’s why it’s pretty cool that the keyboard (which has always been the go-to place for three, yes THREE different variations of cable car) now includes people of colour.

However, some people aren’t happy with the new update. Gingers. They’re so angry at their lack of representation (FYI if I really can’t deal with the finger pointing down to mean me, I use the pumpkin emoji to represent me) that American ginger-advocate site Ginger Parrot has set up a petition asking for Apple to introduce a ginger emoji; it's got 4,000 signatures so far.

As a fully flame-haired woman, I feel like calling this ‘gingerism’ is crass; racism is so real and exists on institutionalised levels that gingers would never experience. Yes, gingers are maligned, but while we, as a great mass of gingers might be held back socially – some terribly so – people of colour face institutional suppression from the powers-that-be. Gingers can float up through the ranks of society, but people of colour are just not allowed into certain spaces or careers or areas, so I can see why the lack of their faces in emoji smarted a bit more.

So emoji can’t or won’t represent gingers despite us making up about 1-2% of the world’s population and I, personally, am not so bothered about it. But here are the things that I do actually notice about being ginger... 

You've got an in-built idiot filter

Girls with big boobs tell me that they're actually a great tool for detecting pricks. If a guy speaks to them before her, her mental shutter comes down and she wastes no more time on him. It’s like this when you’re ginger, except better, because your hair arrives way before your boobs, so you've got even longer to hone your idiot filter. From school bullies to a mutton-chopped man the shape of a barrel with one of those low-slung blokey ponytails yell ing 'Oi! Ed Sheeran!' at me, to the bunch of football fans chanting ‘Paul Scholes’ at me after another one of England’s paltry World Cup performances. If someone doesn’t want to talk or engage with me because I’m ginger? Great. It means I don’t have to talk or engage with them. And there’s also a safety barrier in place. Being ginger means it’s the first thing people cuss. I was quite fat when I was younger, but I was rarely bullied for that because the first thing they thought was ‘OI, GINGER!’

You get a better idea of how some men view women

Yeah, a few girls have been mean about my hair, but the majority of those insulting me have been men. It’s certainly helped me realise that some horrible blokes will only ever view women in a ‘do I/don’t I want to shag them?’ prism. The ‘funny’ thing is? The moment I turned 18, the same men who used to cuss me were coming on to me. Proof, maybe, that exactly the same things you get bullied for when you’re younger (being a bit different) are exactly what men like about you when you’re older.

A lot of people fancy gingers

And they’re not just fetishists. From the girl who fancies everyone but wants to look at books of pictures of Pre-Raphaelite beauties before going to bed with you, to the man who tells you how radiant your hair looks in the sunset (and only then does it click he's fancied you for three years), there's something quite exciting about attracting someone just by your hair colour. However, there are plenty of creeps about; they’re the ones who’ll call you ‘redhead’ because that's the term most used when they're searching for gingers in porn.

You see people like you EVERYWHERE in the press and it’s really comforting

It’s pretty telling about the lack of diversity at, say, The Oscars, that there were more ginger winners than black nominees. This isn’t a great thing, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel that benefit. I’m not exactly sure why red-bonced acting types like Eddie Redmayne, Julianne Moore, Jessica Chastain, Tilda Swinton and Emma Stone should rise to the top of their field over brunette or blonde cohorts; but it happens in music too: Florence Welch and Ed Sheeran are both doing pretty well. Even bloody Lindsay Lohan’s presence in the media helps me feel more accepted. Think about it this way; the one black Spice Girl was called ‘Scary’, mine was called ‘Ginger’, and that’s a massive privilege.

 All the other hair is a problem, then just isn’t

A common tease is either faux-well meaning people asking me about my pubes ‘what colour ARE they?’ or dickheads (see above) just telling me ‘OI, TANGO BOLLOCKS’. Thank fuck for the pressures of being a girl because to the first question, I can just say 'none' if I like. I almost feel for the ginger boys who have to suffer the same taunts with no option for a sexually-charged comeback.

Seriously, body hair just isn’t a problem

My moustache and arm hairs bleach naturally in the sun to a bright blonde, I can go out of the house in the summer (oh, the summer) with three days’ worth of leg stubble and no-one will notice. And when I send nudies on Snapchat there is really no way of whoever I'm sending them to working out that I haven’t done the depilation necessary for an actual IRL bunk-up. Provided there's no light on them to make them shimmer, they just blend in with my skin.

You don’t always burn in the sun

I’m lucky in a sense; I don’t have the asthma most gingers get, my early ginger onset eczema has mostly cleared up and my skin is kind of super pale, but not the alabaster of some gingers. Maybe it’s something to do with my brown eyes. This means I do tan a bit, but then sometimes get a bit cocky, like that time I flung myself on a sunlounger in Indonesia at 11am in the morning, under direct sunlight. My skin burnt to an aching seeking blister and it’s fair (sorry) to say I’m never dong that again. And I’ve got absolutely no compulsion to ever visit Australia. And as long as they still call ginger people ‘rangas’ over there, I don't see that as a bad thing. 

Liked this? You might also be interested in: 

Redheads Can't Wear Red Lipstick. Oh Really Now?

Becoming An Accidental Ginger. Suffering Hairdresser Seperation Anxiety. And Other Things Only Blondes Know

Things You Only Know If You're An Identical Twin

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Tags: Beauty Chat