Until friends recently filled me in on the subject, I never knew how bloody hard it can be to be a redhead in Britain.
Personally I always found all shades of red, from Anne Shirley ‘carrots’ to 50s pinup auburn-from-a-bottle stunning. I remain jealous of its striking beauty and have ruined my hair more than once trying to go from chocolate to copper.
It turns out, though, that ginger-bashing is par for the course. There’s even, somewhat horrifying, a “kick-a-ginger day”. Which all sounds like a joke until you realise people were actually physically hurt. Or until you replace the word ginger with any given race, religion or alternative physical feature.
Well, sod that. I say we celebrate some of the coolest redheads around, all of whom are pretty fabulous.
1. Debra Messing
Perhaps an obvious choice, in actual fact Ms. Messing makes the list because she’s not a genuine redhead but has discovered that red hair can save your career. In the famously fickle world of Hollywood, Debra’s proved that red can definitely hold its own against blonde.
2. Damian Lewis
Hey, who said this had to be all about girls? If anything, ginger men get even more abuse than women – perhaps because they haven’t got breasts to distract people with. There’s no denying the Band of Brothers star has a proper, full-on carrot top. His hair is so red it’s practically orange. And does that make him any less gorgeous? Hell no. In fact it’s probably a large part of what makes him so obviously attractive.
3. Catherine Tate
Aside from enjoying being a good actress and clever comedian, Catherine Tate talks about gingerism (it’s prevalent enough to have a term of its own) a lot. The story goes that when she called a rescue about adopting a cat, she was told she wouldn’t want one “because it was ginger” and straight away took it in. I do hope that’s true, because fighting the anti-ginger crew with intelligence, talent and compassion sends her straight into the list.
4. Mona Simpson
An auburn-locked essayist and novellist, Mona Simpson can be an inspiration to any talented, red-haired scribbler. Having read her novel A Regular Guy, I’m not surprised she has been lauded by the mighty Granta and picked up a clutch of awards and accolades. She clearly comes from a smart family – she found out in later life that she had an elder brother given up for adoption by her then-unmarried parents. He did really well for himself with some computer company named after a fruit… whatsisname… Steve something.
5. Amber McNaught
And a more personal one, sneaked in because I think she’s fab. A former colleague, fashion and lifestyle queen Amber is extremely funny – her work made it into TwitterTitters – and we have three crucial things in common: Disney love, fear of flying and writing. She oft laments the abuse she regularly gets over her hair; it would all be quite ridiculous anyway but, as it happens, she looks great too.