Much like supporting Millwall or contracting Parkinson’s Disease, red hair has traditionally been seen by the prejudiced as a foul affliction worth avoiding. The biographies of Mary Magdalene, Van Gogh and Sylvia Plath will confirm this. Rod Liddle sticks it to the gingers in his column this week:
‘I took my youngest son to a football match on Easter Monday. It used to be something I wryly called a ‘treat’ when the kids were younger, but we usually lost in such depressing circumstances each time that I would then feel the need to give them another treat immediately afterwards, to alleviate the misery. Bowling or pizza or something. Not any more. They are old enough to know what they’re likely to be in for and conscious that their allegiance to the team, Millwall, is inescapable and probably genetic, like ginger hair or a susceptibility to Parkinson’s Disease.’
Rod, as I suspect he knows, is wrong. Red hair is having a renaissance. A good friend was recently asked by her boyfriend to dye her hair red. Not blonde. Red. When she took this matter to her hairdresser, it transpired that this was not an isolated incident. Apparently vast swarms of women are now asking for their locks to be painted red. The logical conclusion must be that men now find bottle burgundy as appealing as bottle blonde. Indeed, sales of red hair dye have soared in the past few years on account of this frenzy.
Where once gingerism was a sign of witchcraft (as the 15th century witch-hunting manual Malleus Maleficarum confirms), it is now a sign that you are super-duper sexy. Just look at all the redheads men pore over these days: Lily Cole, Amy Adams, Emma Stone. The list goes on: Isla Fisher, Debra Messing, Christina Hendricks. For 44 more foxy red-headed women, please, be my guest.
British women – who for so many centuries have run the risk of the ducking stool – are now choosing to look like flame-haired temptresses. Red hair is like catnip for men. The same cannot be said for degenerative diseases or floundering second-division football teams.
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