Review by C.J. Bunce
Queen Elizabeth I, Prince Harry, Winston Churchill, Ron Howard, Ginger Spice, Agent Scully, Chuck Norris, Vincent Van Gogh.
What do they all have in common? Plenty.
Truly–this latest look at a segment of the Earthling population should have been part of the Hidden Universe travel guides. It’s Ginger Pride: A Red-Headed History of the World, called “a rallying call and calling card for gingers,” it’s a mix of facts, history, and humor about redheads in society. Compiling everything you’d ever need or want to know about redheads, this quick guide seizes the day and tackles the segment of the population born with a red coif. More redheads are around than you might think. Actually 140 million redheads worldwide, 18 million in the United States alone, and two percent of the world population is born with red hair, with ten percent of the population of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales.
Writer Tobias Anthony (a redhead) dives into the history and truths of red hair, with whimsical artwork by Melbourne artist Carla McRae (not a redhead). He has come up with 20 variants of color of redheads, from auburn to aubergine. If you don’t know any redheads personally, well, Anthony has a solution for that–a spotter’s guide–where you are apt to find redheads “in the wild” and how to spot a fake redhead or “daywalker.” (Spoiler: He reports Amy Adams is a fake, Isla Fisher is 100% real redhead). Anthony even argues why fake redheads should be praised for complimenting the ginger community by trying to join in. According to the author, if they’re carrying around a lot of emotional baggage, they’re probably a redhead. And he spotlights the most ostracized of the ginger community is “the Traitor”–what he calls that redhead who dyes his hair another color to hide his gingerness. Red hair dye amounts to $200 million in sales per year in the U.S., more than any other color. Surprised “bottled” redheads he has identified in his book include Molly Ringwald, Rita Hayworth, and Lucille Ball. Why go red? It looks like it’s the attitude and reputation of redheads that celebrities– and everyone else–is trying to imitate by dying their hair red.
Most useful in the book is the section on etiquette for getting along with gingers. Key takeaway? Don’t actually call them “ginger”! Or carrot top, freckles, or anything else–except their name. In that way the book successfully uses humor to look at its subject, while also carefully illustrating why singling out anyone for how they look is just wrong. The author notes there are days of the year dedicated to both kicking (don’t kick anyone, it’s an in-joke) and kissing (get their permission first) gingers. (Err, wait, don’t we mean redheads?).
Anthony lists a dozen festivals for redheads, plus websites and other ways to celebrate all things ginger. The author delves into a little science, too, including the real possibility redheads may statistically be a true rarity after 2060. It’s believed 25% of Americans carry the redhead gene, 40% in Ireland. Cool fact? You’ll need to read the book to find out why, scientifically, redheads make better fire walkers. Although the blue-eyed, red-haired author of the book says he’s not biased, he also notes the rarest combination of color is the blue-eyed ginger.
Ginger Pride points to a controversial South Park episode as its starting point for many misconceptions about red-haired people. The author points to plenty of redheads that have, are, or still may, change the world.
And Anthony rounds out his book with quotes by and about redheads.
Ginger Pride: A Red-Headed History of the World is the kind of book you’d gift to your redheaded friend, and may even be a good tool for younger redheads with a sense of humor. It also is guaranteed to provide you with some scientific and historical information you don’t know about redheads. Ginger Pride is available now from Smith Street Books, here at Amazon.