WHETHER we like it or not, bullying occurs. It occurs when an individual or group of people are picked on endlessly by those with a higher social status or perceived higher power.
In 2017, political correctness shrouds society with a message that it's not OK to bully people based on their religion, weight or sexuality, yet it seems gingers are the final frontier of socially accepted bullying. Yes, gingerism exists and for those of us who have experienced it first-hand, we can certainly say this unchecked form of discrimination cuts deep.
Whether it's in a Year 4 classroom, the school playground, a "clicky" work environment or even your home, most gingers have experienced bullying at some stage. In some instances, it could be a simple passing comment or to the other extreme, debilitating harassment.
For gingers, the degree of bullying that occurs can be astounding and is something incomprehensible to others who often admire a redhead's unique features. Regardless of what others see, a ginger experiencing bullying views their bright red hair in an undesirable light and will often resort to altering their look, something which I know all too well.
At 15, I elected to dye my hair black. I wanted to fit in with the rest. I wanted to look like everyone else but at the same time, a large part of me wanted to dye my hair as a method to remove the nasty comments.
I believed that by changing the colour of my hair, I would be eliminating the very thing the bullies felt gave them power. It was a unique look, a pale brunette/black head, with gothic eyebrows. I wasn't sure if this would make me more of a target, but my plan to "de-ginger" worked and the bullying subsided.
In my opinion, bullying gets worse when TV series such as South Park or Summer Heights High glorify the name calling of ginger kids. Unfortunately, when that show is viewed by so many impressionable kids, they too will jump on the bandwagon of whatever insult was chosen to describe gingers.
I won't lie, I feel that after high school it got easier. It did for me anyway. I finally dyed my hair back to red (after lots of bleaching). This was because rather than mothers doting on my red hair, people who were my age seemed to love the distinctiveness of it all. Now, at 22 the only negative comments I get about my hair are from my best friend (which is lighthearted and I know he's jealous).
If I look back, the only regret I can say I have is dying my hair in the first place, because I realise now that I was letting the bully win. Why should we bloodnuts have to change? We don't.
If I can give any tips to fellow gingers in the brotherhood, potentially suffering bullying at school or in the workplace, it would be DON'T DYE YOUR HAIR. It's unique, you're unique and there is no one else like you, so you might as well own it or at least fake it 'til you make it!
More specifically, some alternative/non-standard bullying survival tips for gingers would be:
Firstly, use perspective
If a bully is going to terrorise you, chances are they're bullying someone else too and if they aren't teasing you for your ginger curls, they will find something else to tease you about. So at least be THANKFUL that they are teasing you over something they will never have.
Secondly, keep calm and ginger on
Try not to respond emotionally, as it only encourages a bully. If anything, agree with them: "Yes, I have red hair, it looks better like this than if I dyed it green." It will take away some of their power and make their insults seem pretty silly.
Lastly, the most important tip for survival would be to just embrace it
You're different, who the heck cares? If you own it and show that you don't care, chances are the bully will give up anyway. Only one to two per cent of the world's population are redheads or gingers, so you are somewhat of a human unicorn. We even have mild super powers, such as producing our own vitamin D without sunlight.
Again, don't dye your hair! Take comfort knowing that when your bullies are old and grey, you'll still have your luscious locks, as gingers rarely go full grey. So, ignore it, because your unique features will be a quality you celebrate in the not too distant future.
This article celebrates the return of the Ginger Pride Rally, hosted by Buderim Ginger, a festival that promotes the uniqueness of all things redhead.
The Ginger Pride Rally will be held at Federation Square in Melbourne from 11am on 29 April. Registration opens at 9:30am that day. To sign up, visit The Ginger Net.
@BuderimGinger #GoGinger #OzGingerRally
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