Real Life

Seeing red: One woman's mission to make red-heads love the skin they're in

People always ask me, 'Does the carpet match the drapes?'

Bianca Duimel, 54 from Waikato, NZ, shares her true life story;

I was at my daughter Sacha's gym class when I caught sight of another young girl leaping through the air.

But it wasn't the girl's flexibility that impressed me, it was her fire-engine red hair.

I was a keen photographer and knew I'd love to take some snaps of her.

"Could I photograph your daughter?" I asked her mother later, explaining my idea.

She and her daughter, Brodie-Lee, were both redheads with striking long hair.

Brodie-Lee had been badly bullied because of the colour of her hair.

It was so unfair, but sadly really common. Kids will pick on anyone who looks different. There are adults who will, too.

I was stunned that people could be so cruel.

It made me want to do something, so I decided to find others with similar hair shades to photograph them as well.

Brodie-Lee was my first subject.
Brodie-Lee was my first subject.

I set up a Facebook call-out inviting anyone with red hair from around the country to come and have their photo taken.

The response was immediate. I got messages from men, women and children across New Zealand.

"I get called ranga and carrot top all the time," one woman confided in me.

Lots of women told me they'd been called Fanta Pants.

"People always ask me, 'Does the carpet match the drapes?," one woman said.

"it's horrible."

I also learnt it wasn't just hair.

Red heads were teased for their pale skin, freckles and eyelashes. Once I had enough images, I published them as a book, Red Matters, which sold out in no time.

I photographed many different people.
I photographed many different people.

"You've made me feel fantastic," one lady told me.

"I'm used to being teased, not celebrated!"

The response was so strong that I'm going to publish a second book later this year.

Whether we're black, white, red or rainbow, I believe we're all equal and should be proud of who we are.

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