On Friday morning, I woke up in a good mood. Max had slept through the night, the sun had come out after two solid weeks of rain, and we were going out that night to celebrate a good friend’s birthday, so I was looking forward to that.

Then I opened up my WordPress app to see if there had been any new comments posted on my blog, and I found this, posted on my ‘Parenting Predictions’ post:

troll comment

(For those of you reading on phones, etc, it says, “The baby looks so much like Terry. The ears! At least it’s not ginger, that must have been a relief, although it does look like his hair is getting lighter.”)

Now, I think it’s pretty obvious, both from the “at least” (“Your baby has ears like his dad, but at least he doesn’t have hair like you, too!”) and the fact that Lou has obviously been following my blog  closely enough to notice that Max’s hair has gotten lighter, but still refers to him as “it”, that this comment isn’t actually about red hair or, indeed, about Max. No, it’s just a blatant attempt to be cruel – and hey, isn’t it nice to know there are people in the world who will stoop so low as to insult a baby’s appearance, just because they don’t like his mum’s blog?

But that’s not what I’m here to talk about.

Because, while Lou’s comment is transparent trolling, which probably has nothing to do with the colour of my hair (i.e. I’m sure if I didn’t conveniently have red hair for her to target, she’d have picked something else…), her attitude isn’t uncommon, sadly. True, most people aren’t nearly as vicious about it, but when I was pregnant,  I did have a few comments – all from women of an older generation, interestingly – which left me in no doubt that, as far as they were concerned, if I were to pass my unfortunate hair colour down to my poor, innocent child, it would be a real affliction for him.

“What if it’s a GINGER, though?” commented one woman to her friend, upon hearing that the baby was a boy. “A GINGER BOY, can you imagine!” And then they both looked a bit shamefaced, and rushed to assure me that of course that would be fiiiiine, and that if the poor child was “a ginger,” (And, lest we forget here, only a ginger can call another ginger “ginger”...) then we would obviously still love it just the same as we would if it had a normal hair colour. Like, it would be a struggle, obviously, but we would somehow cope, right?

Right. I mean, just call me Anne of Green Gables, yeah?

why do people hate redheads so much?This kind of attitude is really common here in the UK. I know it’s not common in other places, and that, in some countries, the opposite is true: every time I write about this subject I get comments from people telling me I should move to X country, because people love redheads there. But, in the UK at least, there are still plenty of people who view “ginger” hair as an affliction, and who have absolutely no hesitation in making their views about that crystal clear.

Honestly, though? None of that affects me. It never has.

I tell you this mostly so you know this post isn’t a plea for reassurance or head pats: I don’t need you to tell me you like my hair, or anything like that, because, the fact is, I like my hair colour, and, well, I’m the one who has to walk around with it stuck to my scalp, so as long as I’m OK with it, that’s really all that matters. Sure, when I was a child, I’d occasionally get teased about it (I mean, if you think being a redhead is bad, try being a redhead called “Amber”…), but teasing was all it was, and it really didn’t affect me. My parents raised me to believe that anyone who’d go out of their way to try to make another person feel bad was obviously a bit hard of thinking, and so all of those stupid comments just went right over my obnoxiously red head. Which, honestly, is kind of odd to me now, because I’ve never been the most confident of people: I’ve never been happy with my appearance, and I’m still incredibly self-conscious about lots of things – it’s just that my hair colour isn’t one of them, and no amount of stupid comments is going to change that.

I’ve never wanted to change my hair colour. I’ve never dyed it. (Other than to try to make it MOAR RED, that is.) In fact, it’s my absolute intention to be a redhead until the day I die, and I am 100% happy with that.

So, no, actually, it wasn’t a relief that Max isn’t a “ginger”.

It wasn’t a disappointment, either, though: which is the other thing people keep implying must be the case. Yes, really. Because, while in “real” life I got a handful of, “OMG, not a ginger baby!” comments, online it couldn’t have been more different. (Well, other than “Lou’s” comment, obviously, but we’ve established that Lou is a troll, so…)

Online, almost from the second I announced my pregnancy, I started getting comments from people excitedly saying they really, really hoped the baby would be “ginger”, and would be keeping their fingers crossed that he was. I was asked over and over again if I thought he would have red hair, and when I answered honestly that, actually, there was almost no chance of that happening (For a baby to be a redhead, both parents have to carry the gene, and, as Terry’s parents were both Greek, and red hair isn’t common there, I’d honestly have been amazed if Max had my colouring, rather than Terry’s…), I’d be told not to give up hope, because it could still  happen, and I might just get “lucky”.

Now, obviously people mean nothing by this: in fact, I’m sure most were just trying to be kind, by letting me know they like my hair colour.  The more people told me they were “praying” for my baby to have the hair colour they deemed to be most attractive, though, the more uncomfortable I got about it. For my own part, I honestly could not have cared less what colour of hair he had – or if he even had hair at all. As time went on, though, and the comments kept rolling in, it was hard to escape the feeling that a lot of people were going to be very disappointed by what I knew was highly likely to be a little, dark haired boy – and the thought of anyone being disappointed by anything about my baby made my heart hurt.

Still, though, people continued to fixate on the idea of the baby’s hair being “ginger”, and then finally, the night before I went in for my c-section, I got a message from someone saying she knew I’d be having the baby the next day, but that, unfortunately for me, as my husband is Greek, it was very unlikely the baby would be a redhead (I couldn’t help but read this part in the tone of a doctor in a TV drama, all, “I’m sorry to break this to you, Mrs Miaoulis, but there’s a very good chance that your child will have disappointing hair. I’ll just give you a moment to come to terms with this…”), so she was wondering how disappointed I’d be if that was, indeed, the case? Because, if she were the one having a baby the next day, she’d be praying right now that it came out with red hair, for sure!

And, I mean… OK? I guess you could pray for the “right” hair colour? For my own part, I don’t pray, but, when I got that message, I was lying in bed, literally shaking with fear that my baby might not make it out alive, so if I had been going to pray for something, it would’ve been for him to have been born healthy, and for us both to make it through the birth alive.

Thankfully, of course, we did. The next day, Max made his entrance, safe and healthy – and with a head of jet black hair, which has gradually lightened over the past few months to a beautiful shade of brown. He is perfect… but still people fixate on his hair colour. Still, barely a week goes by without someone trying to convince me that his hair is turning red, or that it WILL turn red eventually, and being almost palpably disappointed when I say that no, if it looks a bit red, then it must be either the light or the Instagram filter, because it’s very definitely brown. And, again, people mean well: of course they do. I think, a lot of the time, it’s probably just something to say. And, when it comes down to it,  I’d much rather get comments from people desperately trying to detect a glimmer of “ginger” in my baby’s brown hair, than ones like Lou’s, which take the “ginger” obsession to a place that’s really quite disturbing. That goes without saying.

Still, though, the fact remains:

People are weird about red hair.

I’m not really sure why it seems to inspire this very extreme, “love it or loathe” it kind of reaction, but either way, it’s just a little bit odd to me, because, really?

It’s just hair.

Does it really matter what colour it is?

32 Comments
  1. I guess it doesn’t really matter what colour hair is in the grand scheme of things – I must admit though I’ve always wanted red hair! I think it’s because my mam has it and I’m sad I didn’t inherit her hair colour. (Partly because she has fewer grey hairs than I do even though she’s twice my age!)

    That said, I don’t know how anyone could think that Max is anything less than perfect, I mean, he’s super adorable! That wee face! 😀

  2. I’ve always thought red hair is lovely; my elder cousin who I thought I was the coolest person alive when we were kids has the most amazing red hair, so I think that probably started it. As if you’d care what colour hair your baby had though; I imagine during the labour all you care about is ‘healthy’.
    People are strange about other people’s business in general, I think. Unsolicited advice and opinions are ready available whether about your baby or your breakfast.

  3. My guess as to why red hair is so polarizing comes to the simple fact of it being rare. Humans either love rare things because they’re unique or hate them because they’re “weird”.
    I’m surprised you get so many mean comments though. I thought the UK had the highest rate of redheads? Shouldn’t people be more accepting of it considering it’s relatively common (compared to the rest of the world)? Where I live I’ve never seen something like that happen, save for a few jokes about them causing bad luck (usually said with no ill meaning and by friends of said redhead). I had a redhead classmate in primary school and I don’t remember anyone bullying him for it, for instance.
    I’m still kinda shocked “ginger” is offensive. I was literally taught that word in English class! I didn’t discover redhead until I startes reading in English on my own

  4. Some people are strange, aren’t they? It was your blog were I first learned that there was a prejudice against redheads in the U.K. and where I first heard the term ‘ginger’ used. Max is absolutely adorable with or without red hair. He isn’t some mix-and-match baby you put together! He is a person! I know you know that but I said it anyway because I am baffled by how anyone could be so weird about someone’s baby. The Anne of Green Gables connection always made me desperately want red hair. After all, I had an Irish grandmother so it was perfectly reasonable to think my basic brown hair would one day miraculously turn a beautiful shade of red, wasn’t it?!

  5. When my baby boy was 3 months old we were sitting in a service station on our way to my in laws. I had very dark brown/black hair and my son had very red hair. Two older ladies walked over and said, “nice baby, shame about his hair colour, you must have been devastated,”. And just walked off. When my husband came back he found me in tears. I laugh about it now, but at the time I was so hurt, my baby was beautiful. He is now 15 and is growing his red curly hair long. I love the colour I just wish he would learn how to take care of it. But apparently I’m not cool…. He occasionally wants to dye it black, but that is only in his emo moments!

  6. People are bipolar about red hair. My (redheaded) father had an old friend whose wife said to me once, “your dad was so ugly when he was young, all that red hair… Now he’s an attractive man though” (well, his hair is white now). That very same person another time said to me, “you are so lucky with your hair colour, you’ll never need to dye your hair” Need i mention what hair colour I have? 😉 People are not even trying to make sense.

  7. I want to say its amazing to me that people would make such comments like that but, alas, this is the internet and it’s always going to happen. I love your views on this – my little sister has a gorgeous head of red hair and I know she’s sooooooo sick of people commenting on it! To her (and us) it’s not a big deal at all – it’s just hair!

    Also, if anyone referred to my baby as “it”, clearly knowing that it’s a boy or girl, I’d want to verbally throat punch them (if that makes any sense?), so I commend you 🙂

    xx Lauren

  8. Red hair is lovely, I’m often in awe of how beautiful and vibrant your hair is when I see your pictures. But I have blonde hair, and I absolutely love my hair as well. I wouldn’t change it for the world. And my sister has brown hair and feels exactly the same way about her hair. Why do people insist one hair colour is better than another? They’re all beautiful, and the only person who has to like it is, indeed, you.
    Max is the most adorable little baby boy I have ever seen and I’m absolutely sure he would be just as cute with red or blonde or blue hair.

  9. Red hair was totally en vogue when I grew up in Germany, and still is, so it really must be UK exclusive. I sensed that much in all the “ginger prince” comments regarding the last royal wedding. Kind of amusing.
    My kids both have my fine and somewhat limp blonde hair, but as they are smart and healthy I never really gave their hair a second thought…

    Anne – Linda, Libra, Loca

  10. Yes. Only Gingers can call other gingers ginger!

    I have been a red head all my life and thankfully in the US, red hair is actually sought after. Everyone wanted my baby to be ginger. (he is now two and very very blonde.) My red faded about 10 years ago so I have been dying it to maintain it.

    A few months ago, I decided to change my hair to purple. It’s amazing and odd not to be a red head anymore. Kind of freeing and yet losing a bit of my identity all in one.

  11. Yes, The Others are really weird about red hair!

    My dad is a redhead and my mom has jet black hair. Throughout the years I’ve gotten either the “Thank GOD you are not a ginger” comments as well as the “Aren’t you disappointed you got the boring hair colour in your family?” ones.

    People! IT’S JUST HAIR!

  12. Oh Amber, your hair is gorgeous and so is Max’s- but not because of specific colour – your hair is just lovely 😊 long and shiny and Max is adorable ☺️
    I’m very mousey blond-ish brunette… now what I have on my head I don’t actually consider a solid colour so since I was about 15 I have been every shade of every colour- red, black, brown, blond, purple etc and I enjoyed every transformation.
    I’m now 37, 8 months pregnant and for the past 15 years I’ve had dark chocolate brown hair.
    My point is- never has a hair colour of my baby even crossed my mind! I really can’t believe people are so narrow minded and somehow think they have right to comment strangers hair colour- weather you like it or not. Your post has been a real eye opener.

  13. I’m a big fan of red hair – my dad had it and a cousin and I always wanted it. Your hair is fabulous (and the extensions just make it even more fabulous). Max is adorable too.

  14. As someone born “strawberry blonde” whose hair darkened after babies, I love that you pointed out that you’d only ever dyed your hair to make it MOAR RED. Me too!! I was embarrassed to admit I’d started coloring my hair at first, but the truth is that being a redhead is a big part of my identity–it’s the picture I have of myself inside my head–and I want my outsides to match my insides. Comments about my hair I invariably turn into congratulations on being so awesome, regardless of what the speaker’s intention was, for that very reason. Ha!

  15. My family has Scottish and Irish ancestries and we have quite a few wonderful red heads in my family. My brother has really beautiful red hair that has darkened over the years, but is still quite red. When he was younger, kids used to chant at him, “I’d rather be dead than have a red head.” We also have the saying, “They treat me like a red headed stepchild.” My brother’s son has a 1% tattoo because he’s proud of his red hair. I have a new redheaded nephew. We love red hair and many people dye their hair that color. If anyone doubts the hotness of redheaded men, they should check out the show Outlander with Sam Heughan or how about Prince Harry. It’s ridiculous. People feel way too free to comment on other people’s appearance. I am blond and green eyed and have freckles. My friend with the perfect complexion was going on and on about how she found a freckle and her skin was ruined. Clueless! Now that people are tattooing freckles on to their faces, I feel vindicated. I think your hair is stunning.

  16. All I’ve got is Max is perfectly adorable just as he is. If he had red hair, I think he’d also be perfectly adorable. I have reddish blondish brownish hair, and I take great pride in being a sort of red head.

  17. Oh this makes me (1) really angry (2) very sad and (3) ashamed to be British. But really, what IS it with people and colour, whether it be hair or skin? What business is it of anyone else? It amazes me how some people think they have the right to comment at all about anyone else, or to just walk up to other people specifically to air their views by saying something cruel and downright nasty. I put it down to basic insecurity, they want to feel superior. But of course, they’re not. They’re just very ignorant and, as you say, weird. And also, shame on those ‘women of an older generation’ because they should definitely have known better.

  18. I’m an American who lived in Britain for a few years and I was so surprised at how anti-ginger people were in the U.K. It’s nowhere nearly as bad here in the States, though we have other awful things, of course. I find myself wondering if maybe it has to do with an anti-Irish/anti-Scottish prejudice… or maybe people are just awful.
    Ginger hair is so beautiful, a rare gift indeed!

  19. 9 years ago I was made redundant. I started my new job with trepidation. Anyways at this point my beautiful ginger boy (this has always been his name) was 3 going on on 15 but nearing the age of starting school. Of course being my very precious ginger boy I was worried. However it was all going ok until one of the hideous horrid women I worked with asked me if my wonderful little fella would have to go to a “special school” !!!! I asked what she meant and said “well because of his ginger hair” how I stopped myself from jumping across the desk to rip her head off I don’t know. Rip roaring tiger mummy appeared and has never left. My ging is the most loving caring kind wonderful boy you could want to meet. Can you tell I’m proud !!!!???!!!

  20. This reminds me of Catherine Tate still on YouTube about a “Ginger safehouse ” Even though ofcourse she is a comedian so it may or may not be partially true, to me it shows how people apparently still have prejudice against red hair. I love it and I have family members who have gorgeous red hair but it did not pass on to me and yes that does make me sad but I often dye it to a gorgeous red. But I think every hair color has it’s charm it just personal preference.

  21. Grrrrr! People are so THOUGHTLESS.

    Steve’s a redhead, so we had a lot of very pro and very anti ginger comments throughout both pregnancies; we also both have curly hair so we had a lot of comments about THAT, too. At three, Matilda is already aware that her hair is different from most kids – her friends (with complete lack of malice because they’re three and oblivious to such things) make comments like, “Matilda’s hair is curly but MY hair is normal.” She asks sometimes why grown ups don’t have curly hair and I have to resist telling her it’s because stupid people made them feel paranoid about it – luckily, she tells me, “I want to keep my curly hair when I’m a grown up so I don’t look like everybody else.”

    Also, I was amazed how many people referred to both of my babies as “it” for the first month or so – they had been born; we knew the sex; keep up, people, keep up.

  22. This is so true. I am a redhead and get the weirdest comments. Once I was in a hairdressers and the woman in the chair beside me was giving out about how awful it was that her son had red hair. I was so upset having to listen to her nonsense for the half an hour I was in the salon that I burst into tears as soon as I left. I have had so many people badmouth red hair in front of me and then say “but it’s fine on women” or “obviously I don’t mean you”. It’s baffling.
    I was never bullied as a child about it, adults seem to have way more of an issue.

  23. Hi Amber! I love your ginger hair! I wish I was ginger and also, I say, that I’m looking for a ginger man, so I will have ginger babies 🙂 Don’t worry about them!

  24. People really can be so strange. I’m a fellow redhead and I must admit that I’ve been dying it for almost 15 years now – I’d like to say that it has nothing to do with being mercilessly bullied about at at school, but that would probably be a lie. Every time I visit your blog though I do regret the years of dyeing. The fact that adults deem it appropriate to leave such comments is beyond comprehension!

  25. Am I just lucky ? Apart from when I was a child, when the local binmen used to sing to me the Music Hall song, ” ginger you’re barmy” I have only ever had complimentary comments. My mother from whom I inherited my colouring always told me I was lucky to have the rarest colour in the world.

  26. Honestly what is wrong with people?! When i was a baby I didn’t have hair until I was well over a year old and my dad remembers when “the ginger hair” started to show my grandma said “oh dear she’s going to be a ginger” mainly referring to how it would be hard for me at school – yes bullying kids with red hair is definitely still a thing! I’ve been known to make comments like “oh I couldn’t be with a ginger man, our poor kids” isn’t that terrible?! If we really care about making the world a better place for redheads we should start with the bullying and comments like that – not by not having ginger babies haha 😀

  27. I love your statement about the idea that anything about your baby disappointing you hurt, not their odd comments about hair.
    I’ve had some awkward comments about both my babies, one being only 4 months old so this is fresh!, from who thy look like, to the cradle cap she has (which is totally normal, and temporary, and not because I don’t bathe her or something) etc. i feel like giving them an instruction leaflet explaining how to act and noting that if they don’t immediately follow their unwelcome comment by a profusion if how cute, perfect, and sweet my baby is I may mother-bear-claw their face off.

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