22/08/2012 21:54 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Ginger Whinge - And Why I'm Glad My Son's Not A Red Head

Red headed girl playing with her hair PA

Ever since I was a small kid I have wished I wasn't ginger. At school I felt like a walking Belisha beacon, made worse because my mum loved my luminous locks. She made me grow them so long that people in the street not only thought I was a ginger, but a ginger girl. I hated adults when they ruffled my ginger bouffant and other kids when they sniggered at it.

The usual taunts in the playground of "hello carrot top", "wotcha ginger nut" or "Oi Duracell" made me wish I could dye my hair to another colour. Funnily enough no one else in my family had ginger hair, so there wasn't much empathy at home. And no - the milkman wasn't ginger either.

As I got older things got worse. Girls just didn't seem to go for ginger guys and I toyed with the idea of shaving it all off. Only the prospect of being bald stopped me borrowing my dad's electric razor to do the deed.

And of course there was always the question from people who got drunk enough to ask: 'Are you ginger everywhere?' I used to long for the day when I would turn grey and get excited when winter came and I could wear a woolly hat over it.


When my son was born I knew I would love him unconditionally. But when he emerged with a fulsome blonde barnet like his mum, I have to admit to being secretly pleased – life is definitely easier if you're not a ginger.


There's a big difference between being ginger and having auburn or strawberry blonde coloured hair. Flame haired stars like actress Julianne Moore and singer Sarah Harding, who recently went red-haired on the catwalk, don't really have a problem.

It's that tinge of orange that scores you down when it comes to the attractiveness stakes. As I was growing up the likes of Boris Becker and Chris Evans may have been famous, but it wasn't their ginger looks that really propelled them into the limelight. When ginger singer Mick Hucknall was 14 he was even told: "You can't be the lead singer of the band, you've got ginger hair".

It's not always a laughing matter. Earlier this year a boy was attacked by bullies in Scotland (of all places considering 13 per cent are red headed) after an internet campaign called Slap A Ginger Day. A Newcastle family of gingers claimed they had to move home because of all the brickbats. Worst of all, in 2009, a boy bullied for being ginger, killed himself. Some have compared the phenomenon of gingerism to racism.

Gingers have always been different. Just two per cent of the world's population has red hair, though it's one in 10 in Britain. And it's not just the verbal abuse. Researchers have discovered that gingers are four times more likely to get skin cancer and we even suffer higher levels of physical pain, according to studies by dentists. Getting a sun tan is almost entirely out of the question and a report in National Geographic magazine even featured a prediction that gingers will become extinct in 100 years time, due to the increasing intermingling of ginger and non-ginger parents.

No wonder we have a reputation for bad tempers.

But now gingers are fighting back. There's now a special red head and proud website and even an annual red-headed festival in Holland. And there are famous people that seem to have bucked the trend. As Ginger Spice, Geri Halliwell did her bit in the 90s. Today Prince Harry doesn't seem to suffer from any shyness based on his hair. And Harry Potter star Rupert Grint has even become a heartthrob in his role as Ron Weasley. He says: "I've always been quite a proud ginger." Perhaps it will one day become fashionable again as it was back in Elizabeth I's time.

As for me, my hair started naturally going slightly darker as I got older – without the help of dye. I don't look nearly as orange as I once did. So, if you're still worried about your child's ginger mop – there might still be hope that it changes in the future.

Are you a red head? Have your children inherited your hair colour or not?