I stepped outside at about a quarter-til-four this early morning to see if Orange the cat would show up as he usually does. I didn’t have to wait because he was already perched on my doorstep.
I sat on the concrete platform then Orange leapt onto my lap in order to warm his toes and to snuggle. He was especially affectionate today with a louder than usual purr. I leaned towards his head and he looked up at me. Then we bumped noses twice. Nose bumping is the feline equivalent of a human kiss.
I mention this routine display of mutual affection between an orange-haired tabby and an orange-haired human because today is Kiss A Ginger Day. A ginger cat “kissed” a ginger human this morning. That’s a beautiful thing.
Kiss a Ginger Day was first celebrated in 2009. Derek Forgie came up with the commemoration as a way for people to appreciate and honor redheaded folks. Kiss a Ginger Day is also intended to promote anti-bullying campaigns for redheaded people. I experienced merciless bullying and teasing in school simply because of my hair color, so I’m especially happy about the anti-bullying campaigns.
Partially because of the schoolyard teasing, I became aware early of how wrong it is to discriminate against others because of our various differences. This is not to claim that all redheads are human rights activists. I’ve run into more than a few gingers who compensate for their insecurities by displaying bigotry, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, and similar negative behavior. Then again, the few fellow gingers I know are fair, open-minded people.
It should be mentioned that the fear and hatred of redheaded people is called gingerphobia. The word that is used to label the bullying of redheads is gingerism. To be the target of gingerphobes and anti-ginger bullying can be very traumatic. Such singling out of redheads is just as wrong as singling people out because race, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, religion (or lack thereof), age, etcetera.
“What was the most unbelievable otherworldly power exhibited in the Harry Potter movie? A ginger boy with two friends.”
The history of gingerism includes antique, socially acceptable, superstitious origins. Back in the Dark Ages and earlier, people with red hair faced severe discrimination due to our rarity. Simply because of our orange colored hair we were accused of being vampires or as tools of the Devil. If redheads weren’t burned at the stake, we were shunned or sent into exile.
“How do you get gingers to start an argument? Say something to them.”
The most infamous stereotypical belief about redheads is our supposed redheaded temper. We are just as prone to anger or calm as anyone. I used to have a redheaded temper, but that is because I had internalized the stereotype. Once I understood that I had converted the stereotype into a deeply held, sincere belief, I was able to begin the process of letting go of that harmful belief.
“Blondes are noticed but redheads are always remembered.”
Harmful stereotyping and bullying aside, being a ginger is an aspect to be grateful for. Already mentioned is our affinity towards other minority status people. It’s good not to have a chip on one’s shoulder regarding our fellow humans and their inborn traits. One good stereotype about redheads is that we can be understanding and empathetic–I like that one.
For better or worse, we gingers stand out in a crowd. We can use that to our advantage. Lindsay Lohan is no shrinking violet. Ron Howard is an amazing actor and filmmaker.
This brings us back to celebrating red haired people. If you are related to or are friends with one of us you can ask permission to kiss her or him. You can kiss a ginger friend or relative on the cheek or forehead. If your partner is a ginger you can kiss on the lips. If you wish, you can do something fun with your special redhead today.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes singer-songwriter, Freya Ridings. “Going to school, sort of not realising that caring about things was going to make me stand out and make me weird, and I think also being a redhead and being tall, bigger than the other kids. Anything that makes you different at school makes you a target.”