Again, please excuse the title which references the outrageous myth that red hair is a sign of witchcraft. Of course red hair a beautiful gift from God. But as I have said in prior articles, no one ever healed a wound that is consistently being stabbed by ignoring it.
As a Black woman who grew up in predominantly Black communities in the United States, I was actually surprised to learn about modern day bullying of people with red hair. Because there are advertisements for red hair-dye on television, I thought that red hair was almost generally seen as attractive and admirable. Red Hair only occurs in 1-2% of the world population, but others are "faking it" by dyeing their hair red. But despite the use of red hair-dye, red-head bullying is a global issue.
15-year-old Helena Farrell of The United Kingdom committed suicide in 2013, in part, due to being bullied over her red hair. Her father, Enda Farrell, called for a law to make hair color discrimination illegal. My British friend explained to me that bullying people based on body weight, race or ethnicity are generally considered wrong in the UK, but bullying people with red or ginger hair is socially accepted. If that is true, such a law makes a great deal of sense because it will spark social change.
Besides verbal teasing, people with red hair may also face physical assaults. The American TV show South Park glamorized red head bullying through its episode "Kick A Ginger Day" and now dozens of red heads in the United States and elsewhere report being kicked by schoolmates and strangers on the fictitious holiday, November 20th.
But for most red heads, it seems, the primary struggle does not consist of physical assault, it is rather, a struggle for self-acceptance. I spoke to red-haired actress Amanda Barron who has been featured in television series such as Royal Pains and movies such as Homo Fabor about her experiences with read-head/ginger bullying. Amanda describes being excluded from games at school because of her red hair and being constantly called "carrot-top", "ginger" and "duracell", among other names. Toward adolescence, the teasing began to focus on whether her hair "down there" matched the hair on her head and that made her self-conscious when entering romantic relationships.
But like Sunne, the main character of my bullying prevention fable Sunne's Gift, Amanda overcame Bullying.
This is my summary of Amanda Barron's steps to overcoming red-head /ginger bullying. The advice that she gives echoes a great deal of the other advice that we have heard from Lurie Favors about overcoming bullying related to afro-textured hair and Ranier Maningding with respect to overcoming bullying related to Asian American manhood.
Step 1: Go Where You Are Validated
A turning point for Amanda occurred when she emigrated from the U.K. to the U.S. to be a nanny and found many people who loved red hair. She was not called "ginger" anymore, she was called a "red head" and she preferred that. But even if you are in the U.S. already or you can't make the trip from the U.K., you can try to surround yourself with affirming ideas and images surrounding red-hair. There are red head festivals in numerous countries.
Just as Lurie Favors told us that people with afro-textured hair should follow blogs such as afrostate of mind , My Natural Reality, and 4C Hair Chicks and subscribe to magazines such as Naturally Happy Hair that honor kinky hair and refrain from straight-haired and loose curl "hair porn", people with red-hair can also follow blogs that celebrate red hair. If you don't like the red-hair sites available, create your own. Ranier Maningding created The Love Life of An Asian Guy in order to affirm Asian masculinity and he is constantly being flooded with messages from White, Black, and Latina women who think that Asian guys are hawt! That must be a "pick me up"!
All of us are constantly being brainwashed into believing that there is only one way to be beautiful. Turn off the agents of brainwashing. Yes, turn off the mainstream television shows and don't pick up mainstream magazines that passively bully you by excluding your type of beauty. Choose more affirming media. If it does not exist, create it. Support laws and organizations that promote change with respect to your concerns. Further, switch social circles if necessary. Do not hang around people who project their discomfort with themselves by ridiculing you.
Step 2: Make the decision to love yourself and embrace your difference period!
Amanda went from being a self-conscious and shy kid and teenager that put her red hair back to becoming a global actress who seeks to be in front of everyone's eyes. She had to make a decision to embrace her difference. She had to make the conscious decision not to conform by purchasing blond-hair-dye. Are you courageous enough to do the same?
Pleaase watch my interview with Amanda below. Amanda was so incredibly genuine.
If you know more about the history of red-head bullying or gingerism, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd love to hear about it.
Also email me if you have overcome bullying and would like me to potentially share your story and like milestales on facebook to keep up with this series.
Prior Posts from "The Gift Series"