'Ginga' bashing like racism

Last updated 05:00 07/05/2014
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COURTING CONTROVERSY: Katie Hopkins has an opinion on everything and isn't scared to share.

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It's not easy being red

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My name is Allison, I am 24-years-old and I have lived in Wellington my whole life.

I am one of four girls in my family; my two older sisters are brunette and blonde and my younger sister is a redhead like me.

So far, being a female redhead has involved a few different stages from a young age to now. When I was a young girl, I would get comments and compliments on my hair daily from older people.

By age 5, I was comfortable with my hair and I knew how unique it was.

Unfortunately when I reached about age 10, the uniqueness progressively became more of a problem and the compliments turned into insults and name-calling.

I still remember my first bullying encounter very vividly; I was walking home from school one afternoon when some boys from the intermediate school around the corner yelled at me from across the street, saying things like "ginger" and "g.p".

I burst into tears and was quickly joined by an older girl from my school who ran to my defence and walked me the rest of the way home.

It's not easy as a young girl, trying to understand why something you were taught to be so special was now a reason for people to discriminate against you.

Other girls at my school also used my hair colour as a way to put me down and make me feel disadvantaged but thankfully I had a good group of friends who defended me and tried to make me feel better about it.

This type of behaviour carried on into my mid-teens and then in about fourth form, I dyed my hair brown which ended up being more of a hassle than anything and didn't make me feel any less self-conscious.

A year or so later I dyed my hair back to red and made a choice to be proud of it.

Although the bullying still arose from time to time, I had to tell myself it was their problem and not mine.

Now that I am 24-years-old, I am back to being treated the same as when I was 5; I get compliments on my hair daily which is definitely a nice change.

What escapes me is why society thinks it is OK to discriminate against people based on their appearance.

Racism isn't acceptable, yet we are openly allowed to mock a whole group of people because of the way they were born.

The constant joking and teasing from comedians adds to it, as do national days like "Hug a Ginger Day" which is promoted by the radio station The Edge.

Obviously I realise redheads are not the only group of people who get bullied but it's the attitude towards it that bothers me and how acceptable it has become.

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I make a point to kindly correct people if they refer to me as anything other than a ginger or a redhead because I find terms like "ranga" or "ginga" (with a hard g) just plain offensive.

I believe being a redhead has influenced the person I am today in both good and bad ways.

It is a huge factor of how self-conscious I am but is also an influence on how I treat and perceive others.

Comments like the one Katie Hopkins has made are so disappointing.

How can someone get away with publically saying these things and not have the same consequences as someone making a racist remark?

But, at the end of the day, it is her problem and says more about her as a person than anything else.

I hope that one day discrimination against redheads does become a thing of the past so that future young female redheads don't feel the hurt and discrimination that I'm sure many just like myself, have felt.

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