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Hair Studies: Red

Hair Studies: Red

Ginger Pride.jpg

Every year, around the world, vast crowds of gingers, coppers, russets, garnets, strawberries and oranges come together to celebrate rarity, solidarity and charity:

Redhead Hunt 4 Huntington Disease
Orange, New South Wales, Australia

Night of the Walking Dead
Troy, New York

Gingers: The Gathering
Plymouth, England

january 12, 2018
international kiss a ginger day

MAY 19
Redhead Day UK
London, England

AUGUST (date TBA) 
Redhead Days
Breda, Netherlands

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Redheaded Facts

•  MC1R, is a genetic mutation responsible for red hair (and the name of a magazine for redheads).
•  The first redheads were found in Central Asia 50,000 years ago.
•  2% of the world’s population has red hair, or around 140 million people.
•  Redheads have a natural, distinctive scent akin to musk or civet.
•  Redheads may grow thicker strands than other shades, but fewer stands overall.
•  The high sulphur content of red hair makes it hard to perm.
•  In Australia, redheads are pejoratively referred to as “rangas,” derived from Orangutan.

in the Middle Ages, Approximately 45,000 redheaded "witches" were tortured, burned or drowned.

•  What to say when greeting a fellow ginger: "Flame on!"

wrongheaded Myths

• Early Greeks believed Redheads turned into vampires after death.
• Redheads were widely believed to possess no souls.
• A tradition in Poland states that if you pass three redheads in a row, you will win the state lottery.
• In Corsica, France, one must spit and turn around to avoid bad luck if passing a redhead on the street.
• British tradition says your first caller on New Year’s Day will bring luck...
brunettes bring the best luck, blondes bring none, widowers bring bad, and redheads bring the worst.
• Irish fishermen believed that seeing a red-haired girl before leaving shore was a portent of bad luck.
• In German folklore, redheads were believed to be witches; freckles were thought to be marks of the devil.
• The fat from a red-haired man could be used to make poison.
• The blood of a red-haired man was needed to turn copper into gold.
• Hitler believed that redheads produce devil children and banned their intermarriage.

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Renowned South African artist, Anthea Pokroy started photographing, interviewing and cataloguing gingers in 2010. Pokroy, a ginger herself, exhibited her first 500 subjects in a solo exhibition and has since received requests from all over the world to become part of the collection. She explains, “This inspired me to take the movement global in an endeavor to further explore the complexities of collective identity and ‘otherness’, as well as the obscurities of racial profiling. I am attempting to interrogate the process of inclusion – and exclusion – that emerges from categorizing people.”


Watch her TEDX talk or visit http://www.icollectgingers.com.

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Red on the silver screen


Clara Bow

...was a tough little redhead from Brooklyn who came calling as Hollywood was obsessed with vamps and was named the “It” Girl of 1927.

 Jean Harlow

...was reigning queen of redheads until Miss Bow came along. She went blonde, pronto.


Rita Hayworth

...nee Margarita Cansino, was of Spanish descent with naturally dark hair. Studio heads ordered electrolysis for years to raise her hairline, and prescribed the color that helped make her famous and one of the most popular pin-ups of all time.


Lucille Ball

...was a natural brunette who went blonde for her start as a model. Hollywood hairdresser Sydney Guilaroff reportedly insisted she embrace red: "The hair is brown, but the soul is on fire." The secret recipe was locked in a safe in her garage. In the 1950s, after the House of Un-American Activities Committee investigated Ball's alleged ties with communism, then-husband Desi Arnaz said, "The only thing red about Lucy is her hair, and even that is not legitimate."


Marilyn Monroe

...was still Norma Jean when she had a moment as a redhead along the way before from natural brunette when her modeling agency suggested that blonde might help her succeed in film.

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romantic Redheads

English painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti founded the 19th-century Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, a secret art society. His muses all conform to a certain feminine archetype, known as the “stunner” – tall, mannered in pose, flowing red hair, a long, straight nose, a strong jaw, sturdy, long neck and luscious lips. Ethereal, billowing and flowery, their settings conjure lone maidens in medieval fairy tales.

St. Petersburg-based photographer Alexandra Bochkareva loves working with redheaded models. This series, Autumn and Winter, features two rosaceous beauties and a trained fox named Alice. Alexandra typically shoots in a unique style that celebrates the beauty of people, animals and mother Earth.

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"Ginger Kids," an episode of the American TV series South Park (season 9, episode 11) was not the first time the adult-animated show inspired assaults at a school, but it was the first to take a slogan, in this case “Kiss a Ginger,” and target people of a certain hair color. In the episode, the character named Cartman delivers a speech to students against people with red hair, freckles, and pale skin due to a disease called "Gingervitis" and describes them as being disgusting, inhuman, unable to survive in sunlight, and having no souls – all beliefs held at one time or another throughout history.

The speech riles up the students who are then inspired to celebrate Kick a Ginger Day, and a parody of the ritualistic gatherings of redheads around the world ensues. The message is about how easily one person can influence the opinions of others, and create stupid hate and discrimination with absolutely no reasoning. However, stupid boys will be stupid boys, and in Rotherham, Yorkshire, the real-life students of Wingfield Academy were inspired to form a ‘mob’ and launch attacks at their red-haired classmates, leaving some bleeding and bruised. A statement by the school was released after the attacks and referred to the ‘kicks’ as assault.

 So Next time you see a redhead, we don’t suggest you kiss them if they’re strangers, but you might think about how growing up ginger isn’t so rosy.


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Redheads is an iconic Australian brand of matches originally manufactured in Richmond, Victoria by Bryant and May in Australia in 1909. The name applies to the color of the match heads, and the logo on the matchbox depicting the head and shoulder of a redheaded woman, created in 1946, has had four major updates and a number of special issues. It is the top-selling brand in the country.

Flame on!

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