STYLE

Is Ginger The Last Acceptable Prejudice?

06/04/2011 10:18 | Updated 22 May 2015

You can get an app on your smart phone for just about anything these days, the nifty programmes can stop you drunk dialling an ex, provide a multi-colour concert lighter or even a virtual beer. The vast array of options leaves each user tasked with deciding where they draw the line in the digital sand. For me? I stop at apps that allow people to "ginger-fy" themselves.

Maybe it's because I'm a redhead and have endured years of taunts and jibes over my hair colour, but when I saw there are at least three apps available on the iPhone that allow users to make themselves ginger it made my pale skin red.

OK that last bit was a lie because, believe it or not, ginger haired people don't show their anger through their skin colour, but they are fed up of being mocked.

And it's not just me that doesn't see the funny side to this pointless app, the charity Beatbullying have also called it "hurtful".

The iPhone app in question adds freckles and gives a ginger tone to hair. The makers claim it is a "celebration of redheads". I'd believe this slightly more if the app was called 'Make Yourself a Beautiful Redhead' rather than 'Ginger My Face'.

'Ginger My Face' sounds like some sort of dare or brave challenge that idiotic school boys would take on. It's the orange tinged equivalent to the 'ElfYourself' website which proves ever so popular at Christmas, but doesn't actually hurt anyone as Elfs aren't real, are they?

I disapprove of being called 'a ginger' as it's almost like we are some sort of unfortunate race, the term is never used in a positive way. Ask anyone with red hair who's been bullied.

Speaking to MyDaily, BeatBullying's Sherry Adhami said "The creation of a ginger app could invite prejudice by encouraging people to victimize people for the colour of their hair.

"We get many children and young people come to our peer mentoring social networking site CyberMentors because they are being bullied about their appearance, because they are perceived to be different in some way. This is unacceptable and no one should have their self-esteem reduced because of their appearance."

Unlike when I was at school, now that I am older people often come up to me and say "I love your red hair" or "I wish my hair was your colour". But they NEVER say "I wish I was a ginger".

One colleague, who has blonde hair (just to be clear that there's no personal agenda) told me that she thinks ginger hatred is the last acceptable form of prejudice. I agree, even in writing this column I feel pretty certain that someone is going to laugh at the silly ginger girl kicking up a fuss.

I looked for 'make me blonde' apps or 'make me brunette' apps and they didn't exist. Surprise, surprise. There are also no 'black yourself up' apps or 'give yourself Chinese eyes' apps. I'm not saying people with red hair are a race, but they have been, and still are, subjected to abuse and hatred based on physical attributes that they have no say over.

Attacking someone on the basis of their hair colour can be every bit as damaging as persecuting someone for their race or religion, and therefore it needs to be taken seriously.

When people download apps such as Ginger My Face, Gingerbooth and Make Me A Ginger, I'm not sure they realize that they are buying in to a toy based on years of discrimination. Some say the roots of 'gingerism' are a throwback to anti-Irish sentiment from the 19th Century and before when the Irish, with a greater prevalence of red hair, were regarded as ethnically inferior. Others claim redheads are feared because in folklore they are believed to be the devil's children.

Wherever the dislike of redheads came from, as a visible minority not protected by law, we have become a target. These apps are not outwardly rude about people with red hair because the creators (who probably aren't redheads) know when negative language is used an app won't be approved for sale by Apple. So instead they create apps under a false 'celebration of red heads' tagline and let the users do the mocking, laughing and teasing themselves. Don't believe that the creators of apps are so sly? On one forum I visited an app maker asked his online buddies "Will they allow a 'Kill the Ginger' App?" The readers went on to advise him how he could get around Apple's discrimination restraints.

Maybe some of you laughed when you read the 'Ginger My Face' or 'Kill the Ginger' app titles, but try switching the word 'ginger' to 'gay', 'fat', or 'black', or indeed any other set of people who are bullied and teased, and see if you still find it funny.

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