Model Lily Cole says being bullied for red hair is 'not dissimilar' to racial abuse

Former model claims mocking over hair colour is largely overlooked by teachers

Sarah Young
Friday 17 April 2020 14:30 BST
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Lily Cole has claimed that being bullied for having red hair is "not dissimilar" to experiencing racial abuse.

Speaking on poet laureate Simon Armitage's BBC podcast "The Poet Laureate Has Gone To His Shed", the former model opened up about being mocked over the colour of her hair as a child.

The Star Wars actor claimed that teachers often turn a blind eye to such prejudice because it is not considered to be as bad as other forms of discrimination and revealed that she was left with low self-esteem after years of being victimised at school.

“What are the reason that kids are bullied? It's because they're different,” Cole said.

“On a surface level it was mostly because I had red hair. And at that time in England – and I still think it exists as a problem – being ginger was a common kind of slur.

“I think it's really problematic because it's the kind of slur that's largely overlooked by teachers because it's not really politically incorrect.”

The 32-year-old continued: “It's not a racial slur but it's also not dissimilar because it's something a child can't change about themselves, short of dyeing their hair.

“My mum said it was jealousy but I didn't really believe that. It can be really damaging.”

Cole is not the only celebrity to speak out about being bullied for their red hair.

In 2011, Simply Red singer Mick Hucknall claimed that negative comments regarding the colour of his locks were akin to racism.

After being targeted by trolls on Twitter, Hucknall responded, writing: “Let’s play a game: whenever you read ‘ginger’ try replacing it with ‘black’ or ‘asian’ and see how it reads.”

Harry Potter star Rupert Grint also previously opened up about the nicknames he was called in school due to his fiery hair and claimed that standing out like a “beacon” made it more difficult to make friends at school.

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