UK vs Germany: experiences of being “ginger” | #dealwithme | Life Links | DW | 20.11.2014
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UK vs Germany: experiences of being “ginger”

Gianna’s story: being a redhead in Germany

It’s a breeze being “ginger” in Germany.

In Germany - where #link: to 5 percent of people are "gingers"# - I've never experienced intolerance or abuse because of my red hair. The worst thing I was called in school was "matchstick".

Other names I was called I found rather encouraging - like Pumuckl, a famous animated cartoon goblin, who was quick-witted, nosey and even had invisibility powers. Or Pippi Longstocking, known to be the strongest girl on earth.

Gianna Grün (Photo: Gianna Grün)

Gianna Grün

At the hairdresser’s, women of any age would drop in and ask for "the same hair color as the girl over there", pointing at me. The hairdresser had to disappoint them by explaining this color was not dyed but natural.

Appreciation for my red hair didn't stop there: when I visited a castle in Ireland as a university student, I walked past a group of school children. One girl poked her friend and whispered in awe: "Look! There is a carrot lady!" Having never been called "lady" before, I felt like a princess.

Others didn't do as well with their comments as that schoolgirl. Some guy tried to flirt with me saying that I looked quite beautiful despite the fact that I had red hair. The conversation ended there.

I also remember talking to a fellow journalist who told me that redheads had #link: genes as Neanderthal hominids#. As a molecular biologist, that was rather fascinating. With my DNA, I'm a walking piece of history!

As you can see, I feel rather blessed with my red hair and freckles. With that I'm not alone. There are hardly any reports of “ginger abuse” in Germany - unlike in the UK. Maybe we’re influenced by our neighbours, the Dutch, who even have #link: festival# celebrating what is clearly the best hair color in the world.

Recently a video by Buzzfeed on other cool things about redheads went viral. When I saw it on Lou's Facebook wall, I shared it as well, but now I wonder: do we really need videos promoting the acceptance and appreciation of such an irrelevant and, at the same time, manipulable trait as hair color?

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