There’s no denying that red tresses are in vogue these days. But while celebrities like Rihanna, Katy Perry and Amy Adams happily sport ginger manes, research conducted by the University of Westminster shows that redheaded women are less likely to be chatted up in bars than their blond and brunette peers.
This statistic holds true even in Ireland, which boasts the world’s second-highest population of redheads.
In her new RTE documentary, “Oi Ginger,” flame-haired Irish fashion stylist Angela Scanlon decided to put the research findings to the test.
Dressed for a night out on the town, Scanlon dropped in to a popular Dublin bar wearing a blonde wig. She found herself showered with male attention. She left the bar, and returned later without the wig, sporting her own coppery locks. To her surprise, the formerly attentive men took little notice of her.
Dr. Viren Swami used a similar method when he conducted the study for Westminster University. Supplying a female colleague with wigs of various hair colors, he recorded the reaction she received in bars and nightclubs.
Swami’s statistics showed that when his subject went in as a redhead, she was six times less likely to be chatted up than when her hair was any other color. Blonds attracted the most notice, followed by brunettes.
The researcher believes that the varying degrees of attention paid to women based on their hair color is rooted in cultural stereotypes.
“Blonds are rarer in general but so are redheads,” he told the Irish Examiner.
“The difference is the stereotypes we associate with those particular hair colors. Blonds are rare but they are also associated with sexuality or promiscuity, with being funny. Redheads don’t have those associations,” he explained.
In “Oi Ginger,” Scanlon points out that growing up ginger can be difficult – many of her red headed subjects report being teased about their hair during childhood. But none of those interviewed would trade their fiery manes in adulthood.
Which might prove one stereotype about redheads: they’re kind of stubborn.