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Ginger Parrot interviews…Shirley Manson

Having been a redhead icon in the world of music since the early Nineties, Garbage lead vocalist Shirley Manson is a force to be reckoned with. Her Scottish roots gives her a good foundation in the land of gingerness, but she’s no stranger to changing her hair shade from time to time, too (for the sake of variety, of course).

Thankfully she’s back safely on Team Ginger, and having just come off tour, we caught up with Shirley about her life as a redhead…



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I’m so obsessed with my new hair cut.

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What’s your favourite thing about being a redhead?

I am rather partial to the connection that was made between redheaded women and witches. I like that connection immensely. Witches are believed to have superpowers, intelligence and are considered inherently dangerous to the patriarchy.


Do you find that your natural hair shade has changed shade over the years?

LOL of course it has. It’s more a weird, mousy shade of brown now. Thank god for fake red in a bottle.


How do you feel about being called ‘ginger’? Do you think it should be used interchangeably with ‘redhead’, or is that something different?

The word ginger is employed by bigots as a nonsensical insult. We all know that ginger is yellowy beige and has very little bearing on a red head. The inference being that we are nippy or spicy I guess. Bigots be damned.




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[Image: Igor Kovalik]


Do you have any family members with red hair?

Yes. My mother and my big sister.


What was it like for you growing up with red hair?

Unpleasant and embarrassing. When I was young I HATED having red hair. I was deeply ashamed of it. I continued to nurse deep shame about the colour of my pubic hair throughout my adolescence and into adulthood.


Do you believe that your ginger hair contributes to your personality?

I do. I know that we are genetically unique due to the MC1R gene. As a result we experience pain and heat differently from other human beings. We require more anaesthetic than other humans for a random example. Also, generally speaking redheads tend to be very sensitive and I happen to believe that sensitivity plays an enormous role in personality across the board, for good and bad.


I love being red again. It’s the perfect time for all things red.


What advice would you give to redheads who are being bullied?

When you are being bullied for being different, nothing anyone can say can alleviate the pain but one day you wake up and feel so grateful that you are out of the ordinary. We make up 2 percent of the world’s population which makes us pretty rare and unusual.


Do you think that your red hair colour has helped your career, like helping you stand out from the crowd?

I can’t honestly answer that question. I have absolutely no idea. But if forced I would say it probably hindered it more than helped it.


When you’ve dyed your hair another shade, how did you feel about moving away from the red?

I didn’t enjoy being blonde but I was very happy when I dyed my hair pink. I kept it that way for years until I was asked to dye it back to red for an ad campaign. The return to red made me sad initially for some reason but I quickly got used to it again and now I love being red again. It’s the perfect time for all things red.




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Who is your all-time favourite ginger and why?

Mary Queen of Scots. Because as was highly unusual for a woman in her time, she held great power and caused such a ruckus. Her story has always struck me as tragic, poetic and beautiful.


How do you think having red hair has affected your personal style over the years?

It has certainly affected my personality and so it goes without saying therefore that it will have affected my style although in what ways precisely I have no idea.


Be adventurous. Don’t be boring. Experiment and explore.


What’s your best make-up and skincare tip for redheads?

Sunscreen factor 100.


And what’s your best haircare tip?

Be adventurous. Don’t be boring. Experiment and explore.


What’s next for you?

More life. God willing.


Interview by Emma


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