Now Master Sheeran has red hair. This fact seemed vitally important to those watching the Brits and recording their thoughts on Twitter. For example I've now learnt that Ed is Prince Harry's brother, most likely related to James Hewitt, and undoubtedly Geri Halliwell's long lost great nephew. Oddly, quite a bit of this redhead nonsense was hurtful. For God's sake, people...stop with the ginga-bashing!! Red hair is bloody gorgeous! So naffing gorgeous that twice a year I spend money - money I could have spent on shoes - adding red hues to my own dull thatch. My middle daughter has red hair - the natural kind rather than chemically enhanced. On the Scale of Red (dark auburn through to strawberry blonde) she is at the darker end, conker-coloured in the winter, lightening to copper in the summer. She has pale skin with cappuccino freckles that pop out like stars at night when the sun winks at her. Along with the generalisations - the fiery temper, for example, (my own little red has the sweetest of natures and literally wouldn't hurt a fly. In fact, if she found an injured fly she would make a Fly Hospital very quickly out of a yoghurt pot and nurse the fly back to full buzz) - what I will never understand is hatred/teasing/bullying of people with red hair.
A few facts: there was a group on Facebook which called itself Kick a Ginger and campaigned to establish a National Kick a Ginger Day. It had 5000 members. Tesco were recently made to withdraw a Christmas card which showed a red-haired child sitting on Father Chistmas' lap with the strap line Santa loves all kids. Even ginger ones. In 2010 Harriet Harman - who is a grownup - called the Treasury Secretary, Danny Alexander, a ginger rodent. Mick Hucknall often complained he was called ugly because of his red mop (nothing to do with the snake-hipped dad-dancing or the cringe-worthy proclamation he had sex with three different women a day, then...)
Red hair rocks! We know this. Artists, the translators of beauty into a record of contemporary culture, know this. Titian, Klimt, Modigliani, Botticelli, the entire pre-Raphaelite brotherhood, they all knew this. Perhaps this is why I have such love for red hues in a barnet; it goes hand in hand with my love of art, all that passion in those pensive, lustful, romantic images, tumbling red hair and milky skin. The first painting that stirred me, Toulouse-Lautrec's La Toilette, depicts a flame-haired woman in the process of washing herself, a black stocking adding a flash of the illicit. This painting drew me in, touched me; I was desperate to know what she was thinking about, looking at, what she was smelling and hearing. Lautrec was an aristocratic artist whose growth was stunted by a genetic disorder. Mocked and shunned by many, he steeped himself in alcohol and sought solace in the bohemian lifestyle of Montmatre where his homies were other artists, writers and prostitutes. Lautrec loved women and painted them in a manner that ignored academic convention, that focussed on their inherent femininity and laid their humanity bare. They nearly always had red hair too. He celebrated the copper-top. Revered their russet tresses. The man was a ginger groupie.
|La Toilette, Toulouse-Lautrec, 1889 (Musee d'Orsay)|
It's time to put the gingerism (racism for the follicly-ignorant) behind us. Consign it to the days when we didn't know better. Leave it to the Loose Women to discuss alongside the likening of breastfeeding in public to a pervert flashing his meat-and-veg at old ladies (yes, a woman on the telebox really said this.) Let's make like artists. Let's love this genetic miracle with a passion that only a true redhead could muster. Let's kiss every one of their precious freckles (maybe only do this if you have a redhead in the family.)