It has been called the colour of the moment. As Prince Harry, Ed Sheeran and Rupert Grint fly the flag for natural gingers and celebrities like Christina Hendricks, Cheryl Cole and Amy Childs go red by choice, there has never been a hotter time to be ginger.
As the fashion for fiery locks gathers pace, it has become an oft-repeated cliche that every celebrity that goes red by choice makes it cooler to be ginger.
Effectively, they say, elective redheads are taking the stigma out of being ginger.
But for natural born ginger Rebeckah Vaughan, who was forced to leave school after her life was made hell by bullies, this theory is nonsense.
Appearing on This Morning today, Rebeckah, 28, who appeared as a contestant on the 12th series of Big Brother, said that unless you carry the 'ginger gene', you can never really be a redhead. Real gingers have freckled, pale skin, 'albino' eyelashes and no eyebrows, she says.
As such, fake redheads - with their 'normal' eyebrows, their skin that tans, and their freckle-free complexions, are doing nothing to help the millions of redheads in Britain - four per cent of the nation - who are persecuted on a daily basis for their hair colour.
'It annoys me when people say Cheryl Cole is ginger. She's not at all. She has just dyed her hair red,' Rebeckah says.
'She is not a real redhead. Cheryl Cole is beautiful – she does not have the gene – and it’s the gene that messes you up! The eyebrows, the eyes, the freckles – everything. 'If you don't have the gene, it's totally different.'
Rebeckah, whose mother and sister both have red hair, says that from the age of seven she would come home from school in tears after being taunted by bullies.
She had no defence mechanism to cope with it, because her family were collectively ashamed of their hair colour.
'I grew up in a family that was embarrassed by their ginger hair,' Rebecca says. 'My mother had red hair. And when she was pregnant with my younger sister, I would hear her say, "Please God, let the second one escape the ginger"'.
'I left school for a year - I couldn't face it. I didn't want to be a target any more.'
Rebeckah, who dyes her hair blonde in sessions costing thousands of pounds every year, says it's not just the colour of her hair that marks her out.
She has been bullied all her life for the pale skin she says was 'blue', as well as her freckles and what she calls her 'albino' eyelashes.
'You can't ever get away from it,' she says. 'I wear so much make up. I put it on an inch thick because I don't like anyone seeing my freckles.
'I wear excessive amounts of fake tan. I have my eyelashes tinted every weekend and spend a fortune in the hairdressers when I go every three weeks.
'I've ruined my hair. I've dyed it so many times it's falling out. I have to have extensions because it is so damaged.'
And Rebeckah says her sister, who is also a redhead but dyes her hair brown, tells her she'd better not leave the house without her 'albino' eyelashes thickly coated in mascara.
Even more distressing is the news that Rebeckah's own boyfriend is 'disgusted' by ginger hair.
'I show him photos of myself as a child and he says I look disgusting,' she says. 'He would never go out with me if I looked like that.'
As for the word 'ginger', Rebeckah considers it an insult.
'It's got nasty connotations,' she says. 'Playground connotations. It's been used for so long to bully redheads that I hate the word.
But Sam Heakin, a redhead who recently launched a dating site specifically for ginger people called Top Carrots, says redheads need to stand up for themselves and embrace their hair colour.
Every redhead gets teased – but that’s when you need to step up and be proud,' he says. 'If you embrace it, the bullies lay off.'
'Is it unfair that you have to fight against people over something you were born with? Yes, but children get picked on for so many things. For being a bit overweight, for being ginger.
'You need to embrace it.'
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-**/Its-dont-GENE-Redhead-bullied-school-says-matter-celebrities-dye-hair-real-gingers-outcasts.html#ixzz20Q8PrLnz
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