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Why ‘Ginger’ Should Be Used Interchangeably For ‘Redhead’

Why ‘Ginger’ Should Be Used Interchangeably For ‘Redhead’

Why 'Ginger' Should Be Used Interchangeably For 'Redhead'

To say that the Ginger Parrot Team is a group of enthusiastic promoters of ‘all things nice and gingerful’ is a bit of an understatement.

In fact, if we were any more proud of our ginger hair, our red heads probably wouldn’t fit through the door.

Seriously. We like it THAT much.

But we acknowledge that not all redheads are loud and proud of their ginger locks – that’s something we can’t ignore. There are still so many people with naturally red hair who view their rare genes as a reminder of years of ridicule, bullying, and abuse.

Last week, The Guardian reported on a letter that they received, reading: “This letter is to respectfully ask that the word ‘ginger’ is not used interchangeably for redheads, as it is a term that is all too often used in a derogatory fashion and as a prelude to abuse.”

The writer of the letter then goes on to say, “I can understand that many non-redheads simply do not realise just how much this term is used still as a weapon.”

And while this is sadly true, this obviously strikes a chord with us. As proud and happy red-haired writers, we use ‘ginger’ interchangeably with ‘redhead’ all the time.

Heck, it’s even in our name! We just luuuuurve the gingerness.

Don’t get me wrong, the reason we refer to ‘redheads’ as ‘gingers’ is not because we don’t understand the plight of having red hair and weren’t taunted as kids. Gosh, we were.

So we feel we must make an additional point here, as it seems to have been overlooked in this case: ‘Ginger’ is used as an insult because society allows it to be viewed as an acceptable form of taunting.

We have said before, in our article ‘Should the Victimisation of Gingers be Classed as a Hate Crime?’, that bullying and abuse relating to ginger hair can be traced back to the school playground. From the earliest age, particularly in the UK, children grow up thinking that ‘ginger’ is an appropriate term to use to put redheads down.

But because this insult in question relates to hair colour, rather than disability, sexuality or race, it is swiftly dismissed as a form of discrimination, and thus society continues to embed this idea that it’s socially acceptable to tease redheads for their hair shade.

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Luckily the red-haired writer of the letter notes that banning the use of the word ‘ginger’ “would probably just make it worse and taboo words only become more powerful and more offensive”, but we believe that simply avoiding it is quite ridiculous in itself.

Not only would this be likely to cause more torment, but the work that all ginger promoters (ourselves included), celebrities and anti-bullying organisations put in to changing people’s attitudes towards red hair would be for nothing.

Instead, we must acknowledge that, with verbal bullying, it is the power we allow the word to have over us that is the issue. And change things.

Yes, ‘ginger’ can be used in hurtful ways, but instead of using it to instil fear and isolation, it should be used with pride and to empower and encourage individuality.

By Emma


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