As red hair is having a moment in fashion, we consider if it’s here to stay or just a trend, and why it is a feature that is continually scrutinised. ‘Ginger ninja’ and ‘carrot top’ is something that I and many redheads have grown up hearing throughout our lives. Redheaded model, Emma Townsend, 22, muses on her high school days of being picked on as a result of her appearance: “I had braces, I had freckles, I had ginger hair… it could not have been worse!” Clare Drysdale, 58, experienced similar abuse about her hair colour, recalling the day at the ripe age of 16, when she stopped putting up with a life time of name calling after a builder shouted “what’s up ginge?” to which she replied “how you doing fatso?”, much to her mother’s dismay. She added: “when I was younger to be the only ginger person on the bus, or the target of men yelling “hey, ginger” out of white vans, I felt extremely self-conscious.” But what is it that makes ginger hair a feature that is still, to this day, picked on? Apple have included a range of ethnicities, skin tones and hair colours in the emoji selection, but even in their latest i.OS 8.3 update, redheaded emoticons are not to be seen. Emojis have become such a big thing in modern day society and has become a new way to communicate and express how you’re feeling. Now this might sound pathetic and silly, but in a day an age where social media is so important to all of us, why has this opportunity to communicate in this new icon language been denied to redheads? And that’s why I, along with 20,000 people have signed the petition on change.org declaring that Apple sees sense and give all of us gingers a chance. To its credit, fashion has approached a new era where it has begun using minorities to their advantage, scouting models with features that are unique and show stopping. Madi Stubbington, 19, a redheaded Australian model who has 21.7k followers on Instagram and has worked with the likes of Gucci and Miu Miu, “believes my hair colour has helped my career”. She comments: “sure redheads may not be as abundant as blonde, brown or black haired models, but it definitely works in our favour. Smaller pool of redheads, means more chance of getting the job I
guess.” Stubbington has also featured alongside fellow redheads Karen Elson, Jessica Chastain and Florence Welch in American Vogue’s August 2014 shoot entitled ‘Fire Starters’ styled by Vogue’s Creative Director, the iconic redhead Grace Coddington and photographed by Annie Leibovitz. The photo series dedicated and delved into the hair colour that is often ‘mythologized, demonized, celebrated’. Red hair seems be a trend that comes and goes. Currently it’s having a moment with fashion designer, Tom Ford’s film, Nocturnal Animal featuring three striking redheads, Amy Adams, Isla Fisher and Ellie Bamber, with Ford admitting that he has “a thing for redheads”. Louis Vuitton’s SS17 fashion show had multiple models walking for them with dyed red hair. Redheaded model Hazel Townsend thought it would be a wise career move to dye her hair “more red”, but explained: “It felt weird to make that step”. This new embracement of the hair colour in fashion could see a new era for redheads. Unfortunately, there are still certain realms of fashion that continue to exclude redheads. A brand that thinks itself to be diverse with the use of models with a range of ethnicities, Victoria’s Secret has not yet had one redhead walk down their runway since the show began in the 1990s. Beauty is another industry that lacks representation and does not always cater to redheads. Model Emma confessed that the best reasonably priced powder available that she can use to match her pale complexion is from a Halloween shop, making it clear a lot more has to be done in terms of brands providing a wider colour selection. She complained “There’s no such thing as foundation that’s anywhere close to my skin tone on the high street”, meaning she has to spend £30 on a foundation from Bobbie Brown on a student budget. Growing up, when starting to experiment with make up, I often struggled with foundation myself, using one that was too thick and not the right shade. This often
meant I turned up to school freckle free, with an orange tinge to my face, which wasn’t the most flattering look alongside my hair colour.
L’Oreal Paris’ True Match are making a step in the right direction having launched a campaign for a wide variety of skin tones at a drugstore price. However, they claim that their foundation range ‘matches 97% of UK skin tones’. So what happened to the other 3%, huh?
Let’s not forget about the boys. It is argued that ginger girls have it easier than guys who often come under much more scrutiny. British fashion photographer, Thomas Knight came out with a photo series entitled Red Hot, in order to challenge the stigma that “ginger men are ugly and weak”. He photographed good-looking red headed men, topless! This became a global phenomenon, exhibited in London, Amsterdam, New York etc., has been turned into a book called Red Hot 100 and has raised over 20,000 pounds for anti-bullying charities. He has gone on to work with Fashion Designer Elliot James Frieze to create Red Hot 2, photographing redheads ‘showing off the uniqueness of this particular hair colour, focusing on fair and un-tanned skin, freckles and black and mixed race redheads.’ Red Hot model Jonah Trenouth comments that he used to want to “dye my hair, go really short, almost disappear”. However now he began to realise “everyone looks the same and to look so different was a gift” and claimed modeling boosted his self-esteem. So what’s next for redheads? With a magazine for redheads, called MC1R, on the rise and many new and upcoming redheaded models to be seen in fashion shows and magazines, I declare 2017 the year for redheads. Who knows, maybe we’ll finally be given our ginger emoji and have a redheaded Victoria’s Secret angel walk down the runway.
TEXT AND PHOTOGRAPHY FLORENCE OGRAM