What do red-haired Koreans look like

Ginger hair : Why we are so fascinated by red-haired people

Italy is the promised land for redheads. At least that's what it felt like to me as a six-year-old. In the summer of 1994 my parents and I climbed the domes and campanili of Florence every day, played hide and seek with other boys in the Uffizi and was petted on the head by Italians everywhere like an exotic pet. "Bello," they said, tousling my copper-colored hair. Soon, with my hands in my trouser pockets, I went to the ice cream parlors in town, smiled, took off my baseball cap and ordered ice cream with amarena cherry - without a single lira in my pocket. I never had to pay. "Non c’è nessun problema, bello." Because red-haired children bring happiness in Italy.

Back in Germany everything was different. When I started school a few weeks later, as the only redhead in the class, I was something special again, but not as I knew it from Italy. I quickly learned that I had to be careful at school. Whether throwing snowballs or chatting in class, as a redhead I was always noticed immediately. Which for me often ended with being kicked out of the classroom. I had fewer problems with my classmates, I was once the Pumuckl or the sharpened carrot, I never really suffered from the nicknames.

It was only five years ago that it dawned on me that there have been worse times for redheads. Back then I was drinking beer with friends in a Schöneberg pub. A man about 45 years old with pale skin, freckles and straw-blonde hair was crouching at the counter. I spoke to him: “Aren't you red-haired? Do you dye your hair? "

Judas and Mary Magdalene are depicted as redheads

The man hugged me, then it gushed out of him: As a teenager in West Berlin, he used to be regularly beaten up because of the color of his hair, locked in closets and even pulled by his red curls. He could not expect any help from his teacher. He reviled him with sayings such as "Red hair, freckles, are the devil's fellow nationals". At the age of 15, the man could no longer bear the constant harassment and switched to another school in a different district. Since then, he has been pouring hydrogen peroxide over his head every two weeks to look blonde.

How should he feel normal if he only heard about prejudice around him? Mark Twain, an intelligent and sharp-tongued writer, is reported to have said: "While the rest of the species are monkeys, redheads are cats." The clichés come from the Middle Ages. Countless paintings depict Judas, the traitor to Jesus, and Mary Magdalene with red hair. A statement by Pope Gregory the Great (540 to 604 AD), who described Mary Magdalene as a red-haired prostitute who was saved by Jesus, was enough to fuel suspicions of nymphomania for centuries. Horror stories of executions of red-haired witches fueled further prejudice.

The bad image survived for a long time. When my pregnant cousin had an ultrasound appointment 20 years ago, the doctor said, "Oh God, it's going to be a boy, and then another with red hair." The heir to the throne, Prince Charles, is said to have said the same when he met his second son, Harry, first saw after giving birth. Lady Di resented him because there were several redheads in her family, the Spencers, or as they said in England: Ginger.

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