Red and proud: The gingers fight back

Enough is enough – it’s time to kill off gingerism, argues redhead SARAH MORAN.

Doctor Who star Karen Gillan was bullied at school because of her hair
Doctor Who star Karen Gillan was bullied at school because of her hair

Enough is enough – it’s time to kill off gingerism, argues redhead SARAH MORAN.

It is an issue that has faced us redheads for years, but well done to Wolverhampton’s very own Laura Payton for standing up and for speaking out about the prejudice we face day in and day out.

Being offensive about redheads has never been more topical after the recent story of Mrs Payton who received a £150 payout from the Halifax Bank in the Mander Centre after she was ridiculed by a staff member for having ginger hair.

The mother-of-two, of Wychall Drive, Bushbury, was stunned when the bank assistant quipped that she bet Mrs Payton was glad her daughter wasn’t “ginger like you” when a picture of her three-year-old flashed up on her phone.

But open the pages of any celebrity magazine and it looks like a red army has taken over, with stars turning their tresses auburn, copper, burgundy and even pillarbox red to get noticed.

However, being a natural ginger in everyday life is a different prospect altogether, it seems. Many lifelong redheads, showbiz stars among them, have suffered teasing, even bullying, among their peers because of the shade of their hair.

Colour prejudice may be universally condemned in the 21st century – but try telling that to a redhead.

Gingerism appears to be alive and well with even the most politically correct of people feeling at liberty to call Titian-haired tots names like gingernut, carrot top and ginger minger.

I didn’t particularly get bullied at school for being a redhead, although I did attract the usual, predictable, nicknames like ‘Duracell’.

It wasn’t particularly upsetting, it was just what school life was all about. If it hadn’t been my red-hair it would probably have been some other perceived ‘flaw’.

One of my best friends, who I was at school with, has also got red hair and it makes us quite a striking pair when we’re out and about.

I suppose I may have been less of a target as my hair is not vivid red, it’s more of a chestnut colour. I’ve never dyed it as its never really bothered me. In fact as I’ve grown older I’m appreciating it more and more.

There’s a very, very small percentage of people on this planet who are natural redheads, just about two per cent. But we are one of the few groups of people that others still think it is acceptable to be openly derogatory about. It is as if just by virtue of our genes, others feel our hair-colour automatically makes us ever-so slightly inferior.

Laura Payton complained at what she felt was an inappropriate joke and received an apology as well as compensation.

The woman in the bank was being thoughtlessly rude. Clearly she was trying to make a friendly, chatty comment, but it was misplaced.

While supposedly caring that the daughter wouldn’t suffer name-calling, the cashier was in fact enjoying a spot of name-calling herself.

It is like labelling all blonde people as bimbos. Haven’t we all moved beyond making snap-judgements about someone’s character or abilities just from the way they look?

Redheads have every right to feel proud about the way they look. And there are plenty of role models to follow as well. One of this summer’s unexpected heroes was long jumper Greg Rutherford. Prince Harry may not have acted wisely in Las Vegas, but he is currently showing courage and commitment in Afghanistan.

Supermodel Lily Cole, film star Julianne Moore and Dr Who actress Karen Gillan are all beautiful and talented in their fields.

Yet all have all talked of being ridiculed over their flaming locks.

Earlier this year Lily Cole revealed she had been bullied for her distinctive ginger hair during her school years. She accused schools of not taking the issue of hair-based discrimination seriously enough, saying teachers are happy to turn a blind eye to children teasing others about their hair colour because it is not as stigmatised as problems like racism.

The 24-year-old, who has earned an estimated £4 million from catwalk modelling, said names like ‘carrot top’ and ‘ginger’ would not make her bat an eyelid today but can be traumatising to children because they are more vulnerable.

Flame-haired actress Julianne Moore, too, was bullied about her appearance by schoolmates but says she has grown to love being different over time.

The 51-year-old Oscar-winning actress was nicknamed Freckleface Strawberry at the age of seven but turned the childhood teasing into the title of a best-selling children’s book series.

Doctor Who star Karen Gillan has told how she was itching to leave her home town of Inverness behind after being bullied at school because of her red hair, recalling how one pupil stopped her in a corridor and told her: “Eurgh, you’re tall, lanky and ginger!”

She went on to become the face of fashion house Boing and started modelling for designer Allegra Hicks.

I would say to fellow redheads: “Be red. Be proud!”

We are very few and far between, and at a time when everybody seems to be striving for some uniformly ‘attractive’ look, we should celebrate being different and stand out from the crowd.

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Comments for: "Red and proud: The gingers fight back"


Auburn, copper, burgundy and pillarbox red are not ginger, fact of life, now please get over yourself and shut up! I'm fat and I heard about it everyday at school but it hasn't "ruined my life" and I'm not crying the blues about it. Just ignore the jibes and carry on. Good grief!

Frazer - Parkfields

It's time to fight back. Boycot Halifax and their products. Absolutely any other form of predijice and this woman would have lost her job. Its time the gingers did something about this as this type of story surfaces somewhere in the UK roughly, what, every 6 months or so? They should be made to pay £100,000 to an anti bullying charity or perhaps she could have responded with 'well as your working as a cashier does that mean your thick? Have you passed this dumb gene onto your children?


A little OTT me thinks. The bank response was reasonable. Do you really want someone to lose their job and income over a remark like that. Your remarks are more offensive than the original comment. As for boycotting Halifax products that is ridiculous. Get a life.

Frazer - Parkfields

1- Mark - Were you fat at school? This is where the worst abuse is and as a child you don't always have the where with all to walk away. You state your fat - Well you choose to get fat with inactivity - that's your choice, Ginger hair is a god given gift never forget that pal


Chip on your shoulder or just locks of "god given hair"? You sound like a bully to me






Please allow an old man to pass on advice to young men....

There is nothing in the World smells as delightful as a CLEAN REDHEAD. Grab one quick, there are not enough to go round !


I love 'em, the jinja girls that is, blokes look pretty sad though!


Hark at Halle Berry, here! Damian Lewis, Robert Redford and Prince Harry do alright.


What you mean ginger blokes are sad, is the ginger prince Harry sad, Robert Redford is natural ginger. Is he sad too? Anti-ginger behaviour and language is quite simply a form of bigotry. It's very strange sometimes to get such abuse from people just because of your hair colour. Some of these people could be as ugly as sin but still feel they can openly be rude to redheads. So a message for all you non-redheads, please look in mirror before ridiculing redheads, if you look like George Clooney or Julia Roberts we redheads may well not be as attractive as you, but if you don't , wakey wakey, your in no position to criticise. Consider people's feelings. Red and Proud.


Person inside that matters.


This is so true, Sarah. So glad you're one of the good ones, spreading good ginger vibes rather than alienating us further from everyone else.

So what if people tease us, they're just jealous!

Join us on Twitter to chat more gingerness :)


Frazer - Parkfields

SD - I am ginger - learn to read...


You`re a great ambassador for people with ginger hair, rude, aggressive, loud & alienating supporters like SD. Nice personal issues being discussed by "impartial" reporter. Being ginger is`nt a condition that needs treatment let alone a twitter page!


of the gingers I know, every single one of them is bad tempered, scottish and alcoholic. Except for the bad tempered, foul-mouthed Irish one.


I am not ginger-ist.

Some of my friends are ginger.

I played football with ginger people.

I like ginger peoples food.

I have nothing against them.

I wouldn't want one to marry my daughter though.

For the uneducated;- the above is called irony.

Good to see that in times of economic turmoil, people killing their own children, kids shooting and stabbing each other because of their post code - that this issue is at the forefront of our discussions.


There are *always* wider current affairs ongoing - that doesn't mean discrimination and abuse because of a physical trait shouldn't be confronted.

The Uneducated

That's not irony, that's bigotry.

If you'd said "Some of my friends are ginger, but they dont like the colour of my hair", that would be ironic. A stupid example of irony, but an example all the same.

And while we're at it, YES all those horrible things are happening in the world, so we don't need to walk around making eachother feel bad in Halifax as well.

Love from the uneducated.

Phil H

I was often bullied at school i had very ginger hair, the usual was the old saying ginger nut ect but when i answered a brown haired girls tasteless quip and called her a hazel nut she promptly slapped my face, i told the teacher about her violence and i was told not to call people names if i didnt want to get slapped, even the teachers are prejudice, haha, seems the bullies can dish it out but can NOT take it back.


i walked around all day in Halifax in the Mander Centre with a daft ginger wig on, all day long. No one sad one bloody derogatory word to me all day. It's a con. No £150 or anything.


LOL that made me chuckle

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