Pilloried as schoolkids, teased as adults ... could it be that, all along, gingers have been desired?
Redheads have better sex lives, according to Australia's Red and Nearly Ginger Association (RANGA), which claims to represent the nation's redheads.
And word has it that on the gay scene, in Melbourne at least, gingers are very, very hot right now (''ginger'', by the way, is a homosexual reference in Cockney rhyming slang).
Whatever their sexuality and regardless of their politics and the origin of their hue, the Lana Del Reys, Karen Gillans, Leighton Meesters and Rupert Grints of the world seem to be having quite a moment.
It's their time to blush in modesty rather than in humiliation.
RANGA is so convinced of the desirability of redheads that it is this weekend launching the ''world's first publicly available DNA screen for red-hairedness'' in Melbourne at its annual SummerGINGE fundraiser for orang-utans.
You may be able to produce one even if you aren't one. And why wouldn't you want to?
''Redheads are gorgeous,'' says one (dark-haired) man about town. ''Their skin, their smell - lovely. And you have to hunt them out - there's not many of them.''
Most beauty professionals admire or even envy redheads.
''They age so beautifully,'' says Melbourne colourist Jack Morton.
''They don't wrinkle because they've had to keep out of the sun all of their lives. And their hair fades naturally to a more subdued but equally gorgeous shade.
"It doesn't go grey like everyone else's. Some of the best hair I've seen has been red.''
And the colour combinations available at the salon are ''endless'', according to Nathan Armagnacq of Oscar Oscar.
''That's why it is important to get the right shade for the client. It needs a detailed consultation, taking into account skin tone and eye colour,'' he says.
''You wouldn't want to be doing it yourself at home.''
A colour-locking treatment is needed as red tends to fade quickly and colour-specific treatment products used when washing hair.
Whether the hair is copper-toned, plum or brick red, colour renewal is needed every four to six weeks to maintain vibrancy.
Says Armagnacq: ''Even the most gorgeous of natural red can benefit from being enhanced with a demi-permanent to give it more shine and to make it feel softer.''
He says despite the high maintenance, red is popular. Why wouldn't it be if it makes you stand out in a crowd and be highly desirable?
Or are the redheads of RANGA deluding themselves? Is being a redhead really so wonderful?
Whether you're a former child ginger or a brazen bottle red, what's it like to be a redhead? If you've gone from red to another colour - or vice versa - how does it compare?
-Sydney Morning Herald
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