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12 Things Redheads Are Sick of Hearing

W

hen you have red hair, you get used to people making a Big Deal about it – for both positive and negative reasons.

My hair colour is often the first thing people mention when they meet me (of course, it doesn’t help that my name is ‘Amber’: if I had a pound for every time someone’s made the totally-unique observation that, “Your name is like your hair colour!” or “I bet I know how YOU got your name!” I’d have… well, I’d have a good few pounds, at least. Also, I bet you DON’T know how I got my name, because I actually wasn’t named after my hair colour, SO THERE.*), and, strangely, they will often continue to mention it every time they see me after that, almost as if it’s the only thing worth mentioning about me. Maybe I shouldn’t tug too hard on that thread, huh?

(* I was named after my mum’s friend’s dog. My mum met said dog while she was pregnant, and thought the name was ‘too nice for a dog’, so there you have it. I like to tell people I was named after Amber St. Clare – i.e. the ORIGINAL ‘Forever Amber’, but it was actually that dog. Shame.)

Where was I? Oh yeah: when you have red hair, people mention it. A lot. They also tend to repeat the same things over and over (and over and over) again, each time thinking they’re the first person who’ll have said it. They’re not, though. Far from it. Here are some things I bet most redheads in the UK (note: the “IN THE UK” part of that statement is very important…) are sick of hearing:
pale skin and red hair

“Ginger!”

When you have red hair, random passers-by will shout the word “GINGER!” at you. Sometimes they’ll even slow down their cars and wind down the window so they can yell it at you as they pass. I really wish I was joking about this, but no, it actually happens, and no matter how often it happens, it doesn’t get any easier to understand. I can’t even imagine sticking my head out of the car window to shriek, “BRUNETTE!” at a random stranger – in fact, I can’t imagine wanting to scream ANYTHING at strangers – but if you have red hair and you’ve never had someone yell “ginger” at you, all I can say is that you’re probably not from around here, are you?

(This is why many redheads hate the word “ginger”, even when it’s NOT being used as a taunt. It’s also why Tim Minchin says only a ginger can call another ginger “ginger”…)

I bet you have a fiery temper to go with that hair!

Er, I DO have a fairly hot temper, so if you want to assume that all redheads are the same, then you could certainly say that we have fiery tempers. If you want to assume that all people with a particular hair colour are exactly the same as each other, though, well, I for one will probably lose my temper with you. Because I’m a redhead. We’re like that.

Is it real?

Because red hair is seen as “usual”, a lot of people assume that it can’t possibly be real. Most of the time, I don’t get asked IF I dye my hair: I just get asked what colour I dye it: and when I say it’s natural, people refuse to believe I’m telling the truth.

Have you heard that redheads will be extinct one day?

Why no, please tell me more, because it’s not like I have TV, or internet access, or tons of people all repeating this fascinating factoid to me over and over again! By which I mean, yes, I HAVE heard that. Many, many times now. I’m not a scientist, so I’ve no idea if it’s true or not, and I also don’t really know how I’m supposed to react when people tell me about it for the 675th time. If it’s true, it’s not like I can do anything about it, so… I guess I’ll just lose my temper again?

Don’t worry, your hair isn’t the ugly shade of ginger!

Because of the stigma that still exists towards red hair in the UK, a lot of people assume that those of us “cursed” with the “ginger” gene will be deeply ashamed of it, and will require constant reassurance that we’re not THAT ugly. I’ve had people tell me I’m “actually quite pretty… for a ginger!” and I’ve also had people earnestly try to reassure me that my hair isn’t REALLY red – it’s actually quite blonde in some lights! Or brunette! Yes, if you dim the lights and kind of half-close your eyes, my hair could totally pass for brunette! Whew! Dodged a bullet there!

Did you know that in some countries people actually like red hair?

As with the “one day you’ll be extinct!” point, yes, I did know that. People who aren’t from the UK are often incredibly surprised by the amount of prejudice that exists towards “gingers” over here – they think it’s absolutely crazy that people attach so much importance to something as silly as a hair colour, and I’d have to agree with them there. As I said in my intro, “gingerism” is a peculiarly British thing – which is surprising, because there are a lot more of us redheads here in the UK (and particularly in Scotland) than anywhere else in the world. You’d think people would be used to us by now, but apparently not!

Can you not tan AT ALL?!

Nope, and even more shockingly, I don’t want to, either, so that’s TWO super-weird things for you to digest about me!

You look sooooo like <insert random redheaded celebrity>!

Pretty much any redheaded female you can name, I’ll have been told I look JUST like her. Because we all look the same, didn’t you know?
long red hair in the sunshine

Redheads are the best! They’re better than everyone else! Yay, redheads!

Look, I’m all for helping people not to feel like they’re somehow “lesser” human beings because of their genetic makeup, but I see a lot of the “RED IS BEST!” stuff on social media, and I have to admit, it really rubs me the wrong way. Red hair is not “better” than any other hair colour. Redheads are not special, or unique, and while everyone has their personal preferences, and that’s fine, acting like any one colour is intrinsically better than any other colour is… you can see where I’m going with this, can’t you? I hate seeing people bash redheads, but I also cringe when I read some of the “ginger power!” stuff, too. I DO think it’s important to educate people away from prejudice, and to stop the bullying that goes on, but you don’t do that by simply bashing ANOTHER group, or setting yourself up as “better” than them. All that does is to perpetuate the stupidity: you’re still creating an “US” and “THEM” divide, and actually, we’re just people at the end of the day. So I can’t stress it enough: IT’S. JUST. HAIR.

Do you ever worry that your children might inherit it?

No, I don’t: do you ever worry that yours will inherit your lack of tact?

(Sadly, some redheads DO worry that their children might inherit “it”: not because they think that “it” is ugly, or will make their children unloveable, but because of the very things mentioned in this post. I guess that while there are people in the world who think it’s OK to bully people over the colour of their hair, we should probably ALL worry about procreating, though…)

It’s OK on a girl, but I really hate red hair on a boy!

I’ve heard people say this so many times, and it honestly takes my breath away every single time. I mean, what a HORRIBLE thing to say to someone: especially to expectant mothers, who seem to be the group most often on the receiving end of this insightful thought. Again, people will always have their personal preferences, and things that they find attractive/unattractive, but for some reason it seems to be generally accepted that red hair CAN be OK on a girl, but is ALWAYS ugly on a boy. And that pregnant women will want to hear it. Because everyone wants to know that people think their baby is going to be ugly, don’t they?

Is it true that you have no soul?

Yes. Yes it is. And you should be very, very afraid of us…

Any redheads out there care to add to this list?

 

What do you think?

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173 Comments
  • Jamie
    March 19, 2015

    I live in the US , and I love your hair color, just sayin!

    • Fiona
      March 26, 2015

      Amber, thank you for your article. I suspected some of these things, but l never knew to which extent they were going. I come from a part of the world where natural redheads are very rare and l have always wanted to be one. Right now I am sporting redhead look again.
      I think that your colour is incredibly beautiful. l can’t even start imagining why anyone would bully a redhead…but then, bullying seems to be a part of human nature.
      I have just met a redhead British friend. I’m grateful for this article because it helps me to understand him better and not to make some stupid mistakes.
      BTW, I love your blog.

    • Janni Allen
      October 15, 2016

      The comment most heard in school about my redhair was are you related to so and so? They have redhair too…As if every redhead is some how all from the SAME family…maybe all refugees from a leprechaun island somewhere.

  • Evelyn
    March 19, 2015

    I LOVED this post!
    I didn’t know many of the things you wrote about redheads in UK.
    I recently moved from Italy to UK and guess what? I’m a *fake* gingerhead…! 😀
    E.

  • Stacy
    March 19, 2015

    Love this post! (And as a fake red head I have been asked the question of why I would want to make myself “ginger” by a lot of people in the UK…)

    And for the last point – I love it! (Does that mean I sold mine to get my hair dyed?)

    • Rose
      June 6, 2019

      Love this article, I have heard all of them, a bunch just this week. Someone just today was saying it wasn’t okay to be racist but at least they could pick on gingers. And tried to explain to me not only was that okay, but spoke like they were an expert even when I tried to speak back. I love my hair but it gets so hard sometimes when that’s all people see.

  • Katie pickles
    March 19, 2015

    Your blog has had me in stitches. It’s very funny. You go girl! X

  • As someone who has spent years dying their hair red/ginger, I’ve never understood this! People do stop me and comment on it all the time even as a ‘fake ginger’ though and then they look really disappointed when I say it’s not natural. I’m not sure where it even comes from, like you said, its not that unusual in the UK!

    • Amber
      March 19, 2015

      I know, it’s pretty weird – I *constantly* get asked if my hair colour is real (I even added it to my F.A.Q. because I was getting that question so often) and then acting amazed when I tell them it is. I could name half a dozen people in my immediate circle of friends who all have red hair, so it always surprises me when people from around here act like they’ve never seen it before!

      • Gill
        March 31, 2015

        SNAP! I am a lovely long haired ginger woman too and besides from lovely older ladies sidling up to me on the bus and complimenting me on my hair colouring I am always asked if it real? Or out of a bottle? I know dive into an existentialist rant about ‘as real as any of us are’ or look myself up and down and say ‘well last time I looked my name is Gill and not Gean so I guess I’m not out of a bottle!’ I like my colouring for it means I’m never forgotten and have a constant reminder of glorious autumn leaves, and the song too!! Love Jillxx

      • Olivia
        April 1, 2015

        A friend of mine has two daughters with red hair. They are 8 and 6 yrs old, and she has had people stop her in a store and ask if that is her children’s natural hair color. *face palm*

  • Rachel
    March 19, 2015

    Yep heard all of those! When I was at secondary school my friends would say “I hate gingers, but not you Rachel….you’re hair isn’t really ginger it’s more…………” and then they’d stop! Great, thanks. One of my friends used to say that she wouldn’t want ginger kids. She’s stopped now but I think that has more to do with my reaction to it than any change on her part.
    I was bullied but nothing to do with my hair, or that I remember anyway but I’m sure my mum thought that was part of it because she started (and to this day still says) saying I was strawberry blonde. I was and am ginger, it’s ok.

    • Amber
      March 19, 2015

      Yep, I’ve had people say things like that to my face too, then try to reassure me that MY hair isn’t actually red, so of course they weren’t talking about ME! I honestly fear for the children of the people who say they hope their babies aren’t “gingers” – imagine growing up knowing your mother hates your hair colour, and was really disappointed when you were born!

  • Katie
    March 19, 2015

    Oh how I can relate to everything!! People used to shout “Rickkkyyyy” at me (from Eastenders fame) when I was at school. When my red-headed son was around one year old we went to a shop where the assistant said to me “what a gorgeous colour but it’s wasted on a boy”. I replied that I didn’t think so and, leaning out of his pram, my son appeared to swipe the nearest shelf of its goods in retaliation. You could call it hot tempered but I say it was justified!

    • Amber
      March 19, 2015

      Oh my God, that’s SO rude! I honestly can’t imagine what goes through people’s heads when they blurt out things like that. And yes, I’d forgotten the “Riiiickkky” thing – I used to curse the day Bianca joined Eastenders when I was younger!

  • Jayne
    March 19, 2015

    Gingerism thrives in Australia too, probably because of our British heritage. You might get called Fanta Pants over here

    I really don’t get it. (I’m not a redhead)

  • Myra
    March 19, 2015

    As I’ve said before my father was a redhead, fading to strawberry blond as he aged, and I have a cousin who is a glorious redhead. I was so jealous of their red hair, and love redheads with their pale skin. It’s fabulous. I don’t understand those who bully others at all, never mind for a random physical feature.

    • Sarah
      June 7, 2019

      I have red hair, I work in a hospital and due to the high turn over of people I get asked 2 to 3 times a day if my hair is natural and told how I should never dye it because people pay so much to get my natural colour ?? its gotten to the point where I feel like making up a story when someone asks “Is your hair natural?” “No its not, I actually fly over to scotland every 8 weeks to swim in a special lake that dyes it this colour”

  • Amy
    March 19, 2015

    I have reddish (more like an auburn) hair and people used to comment on it all the time as I was growing up. I had both sides of the spectrum – some people would say ‘wow people pay hundreds to have hair that colour!’ and others would say I was ‘ginger’ etc. Love this post – I’ve definitely heard all those things! x

    Amy | http://www.perksofbeingamy.co.uk

    • Amber
      March 19, 2015

      Yeah, hairdressers always tell me that people pay a lot for it, and that it’s a really popular colour – it always confuses me that there’s still so much stigma about it if that’s the case!

  • Kirsty
    March 19, 2015

    This post made me laugh so much. I don’t understand why there is so much stigma against red hair either. I think it’s because it is unique and people, (especially in the UK) like to make fun out of things that are different.

    I don’t have red hair myself, though I’ve been so tempted to dye it that colour as I think it’s beautiful. I do however, get the tan question, a LOT as being incredibly pale skinned with freckles means that I can’t tan either and yep, I couldn’t give a crap either. Why do people find that so hard to believe?! xx

    http://www.kirstytalks.co.uk

  • Lisa
    March 19, 2015

    I’m totally amazed how a big deal it is in the UK. I’m from Germany and as a kid I always wanted to have red hair and freckles. The freckles are no problem but it turned out red hair does not suit me. Bye Bye, childhood dreams…
    Should my future children have red hair (I’m not sure how likely it is since I have dark brown hair, Same as my parents) I would bei delighted!
    As for the second last point – generalisation is stupid but most of the time I have to admit I like red hair on girls better; many of those cute little boys I see tend to have a rather carroty shade of red which is not my preferred nuance. But that’s my own opinion and I don’t tell it these kids, that would be mean and they are not interested in hearing it.
    This old “no soul” stuff… A friend of mine is a dyed redhead and sometimes she makes jokes like “Witch! Burn her!” about herself. It’s okay for friends (among my friends, I call myself Hobbit because I am just under 5’0″), but not for strangers in the streets.
    I hope it is not too confusing^^
    Best
    Lisa

  • Georgina
    March 19, 2015

    I’m sure I’ve read that red hair dyes sell more than other shades. I might have imagined that though…if I did in fact read that somewhere, it makes it even more bizarre that people are so crap about red hair. I’ve always thought red hair is absolutely beautiful – as a kid, I always really wanted properly red hair. Maybe because my cousin is a redhead and I thought she was the coolest person alive.

  • Bianca Nazari
    March 19, 2015

    Adding up to the lista: I live in Brazil where people usually love redheads. I think it’s very pretty and as an original brunette but with light freckles I dyed it red about 5 years ago. It must have suited well cause I tend to get the most funny reactions when I tell people my hair is actually brown. The things they say the most is “omg I was so sure you were a natural…because of the freckles!” or “are you a natural redhead?” and “whats the color of your dye?” or “I’ve always wanted to dye my hair red too” and “I like your hair a little more strawberry red than reddish like this” (Like whoa thanks for this useless information bro) but usually nothing bad at all….I’m really sorry you guys have to put up with bully in the UK…its really stupid! 🙂

  • Lisa
    March 19, 2015

    Hi dear Amber,

    First of all I think you are beautiful and I love your blog ^^
    I am a redhead and it’s true that many people seem to be so aware of it. Last year I went to Scotland, Edinburgh (to be precise) and I will never forget the experience I had over there, I was waiting for the bus and suddlenly it arrives, one of men there started talking to the driver, he said; “be careful, remember that “ginger thing” is contagious” and then I look around and we were all redheads… so I thought that people are used to make such jokes over there, here in Chile is not very frequent ^^
    Hugs****

  • Candice Holdsworth
    March 19, 2015

    Yes, what is up with people shouting, “Ginger!” in the streets? It is so bizarre.

  • Corinne
    March 19, 2015

    BUT YOU DO LOOK LIKE AMY POND!

    😮

  • emily
    March 19, 2015

    It’s so weird isn’t it that people feel the need to remind you of your hair colour constantl.

    I have very long blonde hair, in pretty good condition and don’t really use heat on it, and I often have complete strangers TOUCHING my hair.

    I never really know how to deal with that, my manners win over and I just stand/sit there awkwardly waiting for them to stop.

    • Amber
      March 19, 2015

      I know, it’s like they think you won’t have noticed what colour your hair is, and that they’re giving you completely new information – so funny!

  • Bee
    March 19, 2015

    I think anything that is classed as different from the “norm” is given more attention as it makes some people uncomfortable. I’m a redhead who also doesn’t want children, double whammy lol

    • M
      March 26, 2015

      Same here! I always hear, “But your people are dying out. You HAVE to have kids.” Um, no. And the “redheads will be extinct in sixty years” myth has been debunked.

  • Su
    March 19, 2015

    Please please, don’t miss understand what I’m about to say Amber.
    I am portuguese – a different continent 🙂 – and I actually believed you dyed your hair… you know why? Because it is so, so gorgeous, I honestly thought that it couldn’t possibly be real.
    In one of your recent posts it even came to my mind “How can she always have that hair looking so amazing? She must attend the hairdresser at least once a month”
    So… as you can see, I trully think you’re blessed one, to have such a gorgeous hair with the need of dyeing it or something else.
    I wish I had your hair… honestly 🙂

  • Charlie McNicol
    March 19, 2015

    My husband has red and very curly hair and so many people comment and say his hair would be lovely on a woman! He is also a very hairy man and has red curly arm hair (and general body hair), so he does get a few orangutan comments

  • Amanda
    March 19, 2015

    I am constantly asked if my hair is natural – to which I reply that no-one ever says “Nice rack: are they real?” and this is no different.

    My brother always said if he had a ginger baby, he’d drown it (I know). His son is staggeringly gorgeous and the brightest copperiest fieriest red imaginable – and my brother loves him to pieces. Karma.

  • Emily
    March 19, 2015

    I love this post! I am a redhead too and often have people make “ginger” jokes and then back-pedal when I give them a look. I love my hair colour and I adore yours! And the Tim Minchin song? Genius! And as for ginger guys not being cute? People who say that have obviously not heard of Eddie Redmayne, Seth Green, Paul Bettany or Damien Lewis! One other random observation, I tend to find that it is men who often make the “cruel ginger” comments/shout outs, and women often tell me how much they like my hair colour.

    • Amber
      March 19, 2015

      Yeah, it’s always men who do the shouting – especially the “out of the car window” one!

    • Amanda
      March 19, 2015

      Mmmmm Seth Green…..

  • Adina Gabriela
    March 19, 2015

    You have beautiful hair! <3

  • Jo
    March 19, 2015

    This is so true Amber. I am a redhead and have gone through exactly the same things. You have the bullying at school and when you grow up you kind of think people may have moved on from being that shocked at ginger hair. I’ve had people heckle me from cars and things like that, it is so weird. How do you reply To ‘GINGER’ ? Like yes. I know thank you. It is so weird in my eyes. Jo x

  • Kasmira
    March 19, 2015

    Maybe this is an American thing…but the comments I most often hear about redheads are about their pubic hair. Thinks like “fire crotch!” and “does the carpet match the drapes?”

    • Amber
      March 19, 2015

      We get those here too, unfortunately – I find it so hard to understand why people think pubic hair is EVER an appropriate thing to bring up in normal conversation!

      • CJ
        March 20, 2015

        The one people find “oh so hilarious” in the UK is to say “ginger minge”! Oh how funny, it rhymes, never had that said to me before! Or the other one is they look at your eyebrows and comment “Oo you know what is the same colour as your eyebrows?!” Jeez…

  • Amber
    March 19, 2015

    I get creepers here in the U.S. Have you ever heard “Does the carpet match the drapes?” Oh and the touching. THE TOUCHING. My hair is now dyed red because it has started to desaturate in color to prepare to go white (Pretty silvery stark white YAY) so I dye it and I have a stripe of blue which is awesome and I love. But I also have super curly hair. That plus red equals EVERYONE TOUCH!

    It is horrific.

    I also second the “Amber is your name? Well then I know why you were named Amber! Must be because of your hair.” Also I get, “Well, I’ll be able to remember your name better because of your hair color.” Of course though, they don’t.

  • Julia
    March 19, 2015

    Hi Amber, I love your blog, being surrounded by gingers in my family, mum, nephew brother in law and 2 out of 3 of my children, plus numerous other relatives, I’ve heard most if the comments before. I’ve heard some quite insulting comments by supposed friends that mock gingers then justify it, and when I remark that I wouldn’t say anything about their fat kid, the response was, well you can dye red hair but you can do anything about being fat????? This was a comment by a fairly intelligent person and as for Katie Hopkins saying things like gingers are harder to love, I know its how she gets her fame but its callous and heartless. People say gingers are soulless, but the taunter’s and bullies are the soulless ones. My ginger family are beautiful inside and out, intelligent and awesome. Thank you Amber for giving a positive perspective.

    • Amber
      March 19, 2015

      I’ve had the “but gingers can always dye their hair!” response from people too, and it absolutely infuriates me: why on earth should people feel obliged to alter their natural appearance, just to avoid being bullied, or to fit in with what society deems to be attractive?!

      • Natalie
        March 14, 2016

        This comment sums up what I feel perfectly but I’ve never been able to word it right. I’m ginger as well and have gone through everything you’ve mentioned – to the ‘do you have a soul’ I always answer ‘yes, otherwise there would have been a lot of murders’ usually shuts them up. I’ve also heard the typical ‘ginger ninja/minger’ taunts as well as ‘does upstairs match downstairs?’ People are oddly excited about that one. I love my hair and my pale skin and wouldn’t change them.
        I’ve just stumbled on to your blog (looking for pale foundation recommendations) and I love it.

  • Kristen
    March 19, 2015

    My daughter (4 months old) has verrrrrry red hair (albeit sparse all over her head). We live in the US, but you wouldn’t imagine how many of these things we’ve already heard. “Is it naturally that color?” I mean…_really_??? She’s an inf