Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Flaming Bush

Since we've been talking about Body Image recently, I thought I'd reflect on an aspect of it that's very important to me.

Although by no means as prevalent in America as it is in England, there's always been an undercurrent in the media that red-headed men simply aren't sexually attractive.

According to magazines, television and movies, we're the antithesis of what's supposedly attractive to women - the cliche of being 'tall, dark and handsome' - with the emphasis on 'dark.'

In America, Eric Stolz and David Caruso do a sterling job portraying red-headed men who actually do get laid, but in the British media, it's normally the opposite.

From Ron Weasley in Harry Potter (portrayed as 'the funny guy,' the amusing coward and the generally incompetent sidekick) to lesser known characters (like Martin the ginger virgin from 'Game On') it's a basic requirement of lazy writing that if you want to portray a character as insecure, timid, meek and sexually void - just give him ginger hair.

And should a red-headed man actually get laid, the women they share their beds with are then immediately opened up to ridicule. I had one British girlfriend who refused to tell her parents what color her new boyfriend's hair was ("It's.... erm.... a sort of rich auburn brown, Dad") because of the reaction she expected.

Even amongst her supposed-friends, interactions commonly resembled something like this, which I spotted on Canadian webcomic 'Least I Can Do':

Certainly, in my interactions with American women this hasn't been so much of an issue - and even if Britain, redheaded women never tended to be regarded the same negative way. In girls, red hair is normally equated with a fiery, passionate personality. Think of all those 'red-headed dames' from film noir private eye movies.

But red-headed men are always considered less. It's another aspect of how the media shapes society's attitude towards what is and isn't considered attractive - and further definitive proof that 'body image' isn't just a feminist issue - but more of a human one.

1 comment:

Caramella said...

Red guys usually get the pointy end of the stick, but lately I've met some incredibly attractive ginger men. Do they disappear between the ages of 14 and 22? I swear I rarely see them in that age bracket.

It does surprise me that the UK is still so intolerant - I read somewhere that gingers make up about 14% of the Scottish population alone. That said, Australia is just as bad - it's still a common form of humour to rag on redheads.