Exotic Redheads: Offensive?

Exotic Redheads: Offensive?
Jessica Rabbit

Growing up outside of Milwaukee, in a town with mostly descendants of German immigrants and then later attending school with mostly Scandinavian descendants, I stood out with my red hair but not overly so. I shared my paleness and blue eyes with at least half of the population. My best friends always had blonde hair, dark eyebrows and blue or brown eyes.

In high school, it seemed the blonde-haired, blue-eyed girls with bronzed skin got the most attention. But also, I noticed a trend toward boys liking girls with a more “exotic” look. They were absolutely obsessed with a well-groomed (and probably very wealthy) foreign exchange student from the Dominican Republic. In college, my roommates’s 1/10th Native American ancestry showed up to the point that people asked her what ethnicity she was (Caucasian, she always responded). Boys left and right thought she was the hottest thing they’d ever seen.

So besides my red, curly hair, I never thought of myself as being anything too special. If I had blonde hair, I would’ve blended right in.

Until I moved to Chicago and started traveling abroad more. A Mexican man became obsessed with my blue eyes. Israelis told me they thought brown eyes were the color of poop and blue eyes were the ideal.

My (creepy) Italian co-worker told me I was exotic — something I’d never thought of myself as before! I was far too white to be considered exotic. Exotic conjures images of Latin beauties bronzing in the sun — for me anyway.

But then a very hot Brazilian man called me exotic too. And said that he couldn’t even date brunettes because he wasn’t attracted to them and he was obsessed with pale skin on women. (He had an olive complexion.) The first time he saw me without any makeup, he was in awe of the way my eyebrows and eyelashes invisibly blended into my skin. “It’s so exotic,” he told me again.

I’m torn on how to feel about this. I’m half offended, half flattered. I know for people from many cultures, white is considered the ideal, the superior. And I’m about as white as you can get. It’s associated with wealth. So for many of the people who’ve made these comments to me, I am unique, rare, the abnormal.

But I also know women who are called exotic don’t like being pigeonholed or the implication that they are somehow less than human. Like something to view in a cage that doesn’t have any purpose or let’s be honest, brains.

However, it also gives me a boost of confidence in a world where I always abhorred my pale skin and invisible eyelashes. Until recently, I’d never been one to wear makeup, and I can’t count the number of girls who judged me for not wearing black mascara and eyeliner. It’s helpful to know that others agree with me — that the blending of my eyes into my face is an asset and not a flaw.

I also worry that, as so many ginger philes seem to creepily like redheads for the way they look and nothing else, men want to fuck exotic women but marry the girl next door.

What do you think? Do you think redheads should be offended when they’re called exotic?

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  • Do you think your image of exotic women -- brown women of Latin heritage bronzing in the sun-- is offensive?

    A person can only be offended if they choose to be.

    What is more offensive, to be among the 80% of the population that nobody notices or the 20% some might find "exotic"?

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    The Ginger Phile has had the unfortunate disposition of being a ginger since birth. She has tried various medications to cure her gingervitis, including therapies such as tantrum-throwing. Her efforts have been to no avail. Instead, she is trying to write it out, via this blog. Unfortunately, she doesn't think it will bear a soul for her. The Ginger Phile is from the exotic land of Wisconsin, where she had daily inner turmoil over whether she was a ginger or a daywalker. So far, three of three votes say daywalker. She begs to differ, as someone recently told her they would want to be with her if they were biking at night because she is so pale.

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