Most of the Englanders I’ve met have been friendly, welcoming, and willing to repeat themselves until I understand the message they’re trying to get across.
But Englanders have a very serious prejudice. The target is a group of people who, in America, make up only 2% of the population, but tend to be regarded as particularly beautiful.
A couple weeks ago, Annie and I met for a chat and basic trip-planning in Starbucks on Cornmarket. Her friend Emma, a Scot who attends Univ, joined us later on, and we began the run-of-the-mill girl conversation about boys.
“Really,” I said, “the only reason I’m in England is to find Ron Weasley and convince him to marry me.”
“Ron Weasley?” she said. “Are you joking?”
“No!” I said. “Why would I be joking?”
“He’s… a ginger!” she replied, with a disdainful curl of her lip.
Annie and I burst out laughing. “So what?” we asked.
“He’s a ginger! Everybody knows gingers are just less attractive people,” she said, a note of genuine dismay in her voice.
“What!” we shrieked. “No they’re not!”
Emma stared at us.
Annie caught her breath and shared, “Penelope told me there’s an old wives’ tale that if you put milk in after you pour your tea, you’ll have ginger children.”
“Why would that even matter?” I asked, still laughing.
Emma recovered and said, “Well, NO ONE wants ginger children!”
Annie and I stated that we would both adore little red-headed babies, and Emma went even deeper into her state of shock.
“You’re being completely serious, aren’t you?” she asked.
“Yes!” we said in unison.
“You honestly believe gingers are just as attractive as everybody else,” she clarified.
“I can’t believe that,” she said, shaking her head. “I guess I’ve never thought about it before. Maybe it is weird that we don’t like them.”
My roommate, Megan, has red hair. I think this fact escapes most of our American cohorts, most likely because we don’t have a stigma against gingers.
But last week we were discussing the Ginger Prejudice Phenomenon amongst ourselves, and one guy brought up a South Park episode that mocks gingers. “Everybody knows gingers have no souls!” he proclaimed. Megan sat quietly, taking it like a champ in the corner, while the rest of the group went scarily near the Ginger Prejudice path.
There is a lovely boy at Regent’s Park named Chris Little. Ironically enough, he’s about 6’4”. He also has red hair. As we walked home from church on Sunday night, I wedged myself between him and Julia and said, “Chris, I’ve been having all of these terrible conversations about gingers. Have you just spent the majority of your life just getting bullied?”
“Well,” he began, “It’s pretty bad as a kid, you know, like on the playground. A lot of people just really take the mick out of you.”
“But why?” I asked. “Why does everybody hate gingers?!”
Julia chimed in, “I don’t really know. I would assume it’s because a lot of Irish people have red hair, and there’s a pretty big prejudice against the Irish. And the Celts. Everybody hates the Celts.”
“One time,” Chris said, “one time I was out walking with my friend, and we were by a roundabout, and this guy was driving around and around the circle, and he just kept pointing and laughing. I just assumed it was because I’m a ginger.”
There you have it, folks. Next time you encounter a ginger, regardless of his or her nationality, be sure to be extra polite and encouraging. They’ve had it rough.