Martine Rolls: I'm well-read and supporting gingas

By Martine Rolls

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Apparently negative feelings towards redheads is a prejudice that dates back to ancient Egypt.
Apparently negative feelings towards redheads is a prejudice that dates back to ancient Egypt.

The Huffington Post is a liberal American online news aggregator and blog that covers a huge range of topics, from politics and business to healthy living and women's interests.

Since I follow them on Facebook, I've come across the most incredible pieces of random news and information I have ever seen.

What I saw earlier this week is a little on the controversial side and some may say it's discrimination, but I feel like writing about it today simply because my looks and genetics fit the bill.

What showed up in my newsfeed was a blog post based on a story published a few years ago by The Telegraph, which reported that the world's largest sperm bank, Cryos International, is turning down redheaded applicants because of a lack of demand.

Apparently, people are not keen on a ginger baby. Reasons given are that people don't think it's pretty, and that redheads get teased in school.

Ole Schou, the sperm bank's director, said that there had been a surge in donations in recent years, allowing the facility to become much more picky about its donors.

He said the only reliable demand for sperm from redheaded donors came from Ireland, where he said it sold "like hot cakes".

"There are too many redheads in relation to demand," he told a Danish newspaper. "I do not think you choose a redhead, unless the partner - for example, the sterile male - has red hair, or because the lone woman has a preference for redheads. And that's perhaps not so many." The Facebook post linked to a blog written by HuffPost reporter Katherine Bindley, who says that being a redhead is a love-hate relationship.

She points out that negative feelings towards redheads is a prejudice that dates back to ancient Egypt. In the ancient Egyptian society, red hair was seen as unlucky.

According to Greek myths, redheads turn into vampires when they die. In medieval times, we'd get burned at the stake.

I grew up in a European town of about 30,000 people. Besides myself, I can only think of a handful of other redheads.

Tauranga is about three times bigger and there are plenty of people here of Irish and Scottish decent, but I haven't encountered that many natural redheads here either.

Red hair is recessive, so children born with red hair need both parents to be carriers of one of the red hair gene variants. That makes us rare, an endangered species even.

I agree that it is discrimination to make fun of people with red hair, but the banter doesn't bother me. I've heard all the ginger jokes under the sun, but I simply don't get offended by it.

My youngest son is a redhead, too. At school they call him ginga ninja and I don't think he minds. He's got plenty of friends, and you should see his Bruce Lee moves!

Only once I dyed my hair chocolate brown. I did that because I was keen to try something different for a change, not because I desperately wanted to change what I've naturally been blessed with.

Brunette was okay for a while, but it wasn't me. I am ginger, and proud of it. That reminds me, I should get a new photo taken for this page.

I love my golden hair and freckles. I always have, even when the kids in school made fun of it.

I don't mind that there are people out there who don't find it attractive - either because they have been told it isn't cool or because they really don't like the look of it. You can't question people's taste, right?

Just keep in mind that when the sun shines in my hair, it looks like there are two suns shining. Grey hair is not going to be a problem in my twilight years because I won't get it.

It is likely to fade a little, and then go straight to silvery white.

While you're at it, think of the Vikings and Celtic warriors. Only one hair colour comes to mind.

Less than 2 per cent of the world's population is born with red hair, so I think being naturally flame-haired or strawberry blonde is pretty special.

It's something to be celebrated because it is amazingly unique.

Martine Rolls is a Tauranga writer and digital strategist.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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