In this instalment of Reality Bites, Angela Scanlon – the stylist and fashion journalist – explores one of Ireland’s best known features: our red hair. Angela is herself a natural redhead, and in this entertaining documentary she guides us through the experiences – good and bad – of growing up as a ‘Ginger’.
Natural redheads represent a small minority throughout the world. In fact, red is the rarest hair colour for human beings, and is found in less than 1% of the earth’s population. In Ireland, the proportion is much higher: roughly 10% of our population are genuine redheads – and only Scotland has a larger percentage. Angela reveals some of the genetic mysteries that lead to transmission of the special “ginger gene”.
Most redheads will experience some level of discrimination in their everyday lives. This can sometimes extend to outright abuse – and even violence. While it is regarded as unacceptable to discriminate on the basis of skin pigmentation, it still seems admissible to do so the basis of hair-colour.
There is no country on earth where cases of discrimination against redheads have been upheld in the courts. There is no country where the abuse of redheads is considered a hate crime. In other words, anyone can say whatever they chose about redheads without any legal consequences. Angela meets some of those who have been hurt or discriminated against simply because of the colour of their hair.
Redheads are often associated with hot temper, and – in the case of women – with equally hot sexuality. However, recent research has indicated that redhead women are the least likely to be approached or chatted up by men. Angela decides to put this to the test by visiting one of the venues where single men and women try to hook up – with surprising results.
Angela also investigates reports that commercial sperm banks are not prepared to accept donations from ginger men. She does another road test to check if the stories – that redhead men are less appealing to the opposite sex – can possibly be true.
In the course of the film, Angela dispels some of the myths that surround red hair. “For me”, she says, “red hair is something to be celebrated. I’m proud of it, and regard it as a source of strength. But I know that for some people being ginger feels like a cross they have to bear. I hope this film helps to make them – and all of those who haven’t been blessed with red hair – think again.”
Follow Angela Scanlon on @angelascanlon. The programme hashtag is #OiGinger