I went to visit my friend at University of Michigan a couple weekends ago. While there, she introduced me to her friend Lindsay. “We call her the Ging,” Jen said as I smiled and said hello to the short but sweet girl, who was wearing glasses and working on a paper. Lindsay looked like your average college student, but I quickly saw the reason behind her nickname – she had red hair. Lindsay is not alone. It seems that red-heads are now being identified as “Gingers” more and more. Some take the term as a form of endearment while others use it as a derogatory term.
“My hair was always my trade mark in middle school, it was something that made me special,” said Lindsay. But now, things are different for her. Lindsay thinks that in today’s society, at least our generation of young 18-20 year olds, people see gingers as not attractive or less desirable than any other hair color. Harsh terms like “fire crotch” and “flamer” are among many terms to describe those with prominent red locks.
Lindsay thinks it all started with the infamous YouTube video called Gingers Do Have Souls, where a red headed boy goes on a rant about how people with red hair have souls. The idea – or joke rather – that people with red hair are another species quickly caught on. Some people claim it started in a South Park episode. Instead of putting down Jewish or Black people, the show made fun of gingers. The whole episode is surrounded by how they’re strange and soul-less.
Why do we single this hair color out? Are ginger jokes becoming the new dumb blonde jokes? I know I’d be offended if someone only saw my brown hair. “I’ve hung out with people that have said things like ‘oh, I’m not going out with that kid, he’s such a ginger.’ I really hope that guys don’t say that about me,” says Lindsay. Simply having red hair could turn some people off right off the bat and red heads don’t stand a chance.
Nik, a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh, admits to being discriminated against because of his red hair. “I get discriminated a lot. Most of it is kind of joking. When people want to take advantage of you they pull the ginger card. I once had my gym class split up between blondes and brunettes and I wasn’t allowed on either team.”
When it comes to girls, Nik feels the same as Linsday that it could be a turn off for the opposite sex. “I think it’s a huge deal breaker for women,” he says. “I feel that girls either have to hate red hair or love it. People have told me that I’d be hot if I weren’t a ginger.”
I don’t think it’s fair to classify a group of people in a negative way. You would think in a society pushing gay rights and race equality people wouldn’t look down on red-heads so casually. Scientifically speaking, the only difference between red haired people and blonde or brunette people is the actual number of hairs on the scalp.
You may think you’re joking, but take your red headed friends into consideration if you choose to use the “ginger” term. And like any physical aspect, give red-heads a chance, they have just as much to offer to a relationship – or even gym activity – as anyone else.
Although I am not a red head, I think it’s important to acknowledge awesome red headed women that rocked their unique look, from the inside out!