the 1%

Alaine Valdez




The 1%



Hair plays a big part in everyones identity. From being bald to blond there are constantly stereotypes and associations connected to this spot on the top of our heads. My focus is on the rarest of natural colors, the redhead! Apparently we make up just 1% of the entire population. Although there are many shades of this color it always seems to get noticed and stand out. Much like a traffic cone the attention to this hair color comes with a lot of stigmas and outlandish ideas of how the person under the hair will behave. Things like sexy and hot tempered to evil or weird. Even a very popular theme that gingers are soulless have all been associated with this hair color. Our popular culture and media have taken this identity and transformed it into so much more.

In movies like Devils Advocate the red haired woman plays an evil vixen, a spawn of the devil. She uses sex appeal to manipulate peoples lives and seems to get happiness and pleasure out of all of it. This evil theme associated with red hair has traveled through out history as well. Things from a symbol of witchcraft to Judas “betrayer of Jesus”(Best) both frequently are portrayed as redheads and caries a negative taboo in our culture. In Hocus Pocus Winifred the witch sister with bright red hair was considered the ugly and worst sister. Even the way she talked was creepier then the others. Another big example of this evil theme associated with red hair is Chucky. He is best known for his bright orange hair as well as his demonic lifestyle.

Another very popular idea about red heads is the statement made by South Park, “gingers have no soul”. This is something that I know every kid and young adult with red hair in America has been told. What started out as just another episode idea has morphed through out our pop culture. Other shows like Glee build off of this idea, as well as thousands of you tube videos both fighting and contributing to this idea of gingers have no soul. One in particular with millions of views appeared on the Tosh show as a video redemption. Here his video of trying to protest against the bullying that has came from that episode of South Park is completely mocked. Proving that in the end gingers are an easy target and our mainstream media supports this idea all over the place.

Having not seen the Gingers Kids episode of South Park since it probably aired years ago I watched it again. It was almost like watching old Disney movies where I was shocked by some of the things that were being said. In this episode a Doctor even suggested putting down a perfectly healthy kid because he was a ginger. If it was based instead on the color of his skin and not just on the color of his hair this episode probably would not have been made and definitely be considered horribly racist. It also would not have developed such a huge following carrying on this prejudice. This episode from beginning to end sends out the idea that gingers are not really people and should not be treated the same. All the parents of the “gingers” were actually disturbed by the idea that their kid has red hair. It makes me sad that this episode has gotten as much attention as it has for being humorous. I can take it as a joke but when kids see this or even worse bullies see this episode it just gives them more ammunition to make this group feel bad based solely off of physical appearance.

Another common association that comes with red heads is the fiery, sexy concept that has been shown in tons of movies and shows. One I grew up to was Jessica Rabbit from the cartoon movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Even though she was a cartoon character she was still viewed as a sex symbol even in current times. Everything from her curves and the slit in her dress, to the sound of her voice screamed sexy. Which seams a little strange for a children’s movie, but definitely goes along with this popular theme. An idea that has continued to be expressed in current popular culture with shows like Mad Men. Joan plays the role of a voluptuous red haired secretary in the show. In the office she is the desire of everyone. The men all want her and the women inspire to be more like her. Things like fiery are often used to describe her in efforts to relate her personality to her hair. In the show she sticks to another common role associated with her sexy looks an affair with a married man. She is the other woman and the lust of her boss. A vixen is another idea we have connected to red hair. One possible reason for this association is the idea of Lilith having red hair passing off her sexual defiance ways all with that color(Best).

Through all of the stigmas and prejudice that have come to light in our present day pop culture another thing that has also become popular. A unity of all red heads. In an effort to support and encourage others through out the world. Even in Portland last summer they attempted to set a world record for most red heads in Pioneer Square. This idea formed in Europe where real problems of “gingerism” have been occurring to spread the word of equality for all hair colors. Its seems that in our current society we would be over discrimination based on physical appearance but clearly many people around the world are still facing problems of prejudice in their daily lives.

Overall times are changing and so are stereotypes. We live in a world where everyone   has predisposed opinions and ideas on everything. Red hair can symbolize attractive traits as well as some of the worse. One thing that will hopefully change is support and love for everyone no matter the color of their skin or hair. Its such a meaningless characteristic that no one can change, but sadly since its something you see first it also has made it an easy joke.



Works Cited



Best, Amy. Druann, Maria Heckert. Ugly Duckling to Swan: Labeling Theory and the Stigmatization of Red Hair. JAI Press Inc.


The Devils Advocate. Dir Taylor Hackford, Warner Bros. Pictures, 1997. Connie Nielsen.


“Ginger Kids.” South Park. Comedy Central. November 9, 2005. Bette Midler.


Hocus Pocus. Dir Kenny Ortega, Walt Disney Pictures,


Mad Men. AMC. July 19, 2007-present. Christina Hendricks



11 thoughts on “the 1%

  1. I really enjoyed reading your essay. Just like you, I find it very strange that someone would be prejudice against someone else based on something as silly and insignificant as hair color. You did a great job of showing many different examples of artifacts in pop culture that stereotype redheads and showing different types of stereotypes. Thanks for sharing!

    • This essay is along the same lines as blondes being ‘dumb’, as a society we love to fit every little thing that makes us different into tiny boxes.
      Although I do see how the media portrays red heads as the “temptress” in many shows and movies… Very interesting article!!

  2. I loved this! I’m not comparing my experience to yours because they are different, but being a blonde….ugh. I understand being judged or singled out rather by your hair color. Your paper brought up an interesting juxtaposition. Redheads are both portrayed as sexy characters, or vixens as you said AND that weird kid with “no soul” ala South Park. It’s not like there is a really definitive stereotype that happens to redheads but all appear to be negative or condescending.

    • Yes its crazy how our society has related someones hair color to so many different stereotypes and jokes ie dumb blond jokes that are always going around. It seems strange that we have made it acceptable to discriminate now on peoples hair colors even though its just another physical characteristic we are born with.

  3. Alaine
    I did not realize redheads were considered “evil” even from a long time ago of the story of Judas and Jesus. It just amazes me how our stereotypes of hair color started from way before. It was weird to see how redheads are either portrayed as evil or sexy which to me isn’t true because to me hair color is just hair color. I don’t judge people based on their hair color because that seems ridiculous.

  4. I really liked your essay and I thought that your examples or artifacts supported your topic so well. The South Park: Gingers have no soul thing really did take off, and really spread throughout popular culture like you stated. I think that was an important artifact to include in your essay. Your conclusion is nice, I like how you wrap it up with the thought of hair color, skin color, or any face value trait shouldn’t define somebody.

  5. Great essay! I didn’t realize that red heads only made up one percent of the population. My mom and one of my uncles have red hair so I never took the time to think about how rare it is. I really like how you brought up examples that ranged from evil to sexy. I think those examples made your paper really strong. Good job!

    • Hi Randall, I had the same thought when I was doing my research I really had no idea it was such an uncommon gene. Its not till I really think about all the people I know and look in year books that I realized red heads are few and far between. Thank you!

  6. Really nice read! It kept my interest, and you utilized quite a few sources to back up your claims. My mom is a redhead. She would always tell me about her school days, and how she was bullied, because of her red hair. Something you said stood out to me, “I can take it as a joke but when kids see this or even worse bullies see this episode it just gives them more ammunition to make this group feel bad based solely off of physical appearance.” I agree with you when you say that bullies don’t need more ammunition. It just goes to show that we still have so much growing to do, as a society.

    Again great read, and good work!


  7. Hello there!
    I really enjoyed reading your paper about us fellow redheads! I thought all the examples you used worked really well with what your analysis was going for.
    When I was writing my paper, I couldn’t seem to have as many examples as I hoped for. I felt like once I was writing it I couldn’t think of shows or movies. All of your examples range from TV shows, movies, and books which proves that redheads are portrayed in our media more than we ever thought.
    My question is what’s the difference between the prejudice here against redheads compared to in Europe? I haven’t heard much about that and it seems interesting!
    Well, your paper was really enjoyable to read and I sure do hope that one day redheads will be treated the same as other hair colors!

    • It was actually really crazy some of the article I read coming from Europe especially England about “gingerism”. Things like housing rentals discriminating on red heads directly prohibiting them from applying and then hate crimes done to random people with red hair. Its really sad that something like this still goes on in this day of age even though we think discrimination on physical appearance is over it has clearly just morphed to a new idea.

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