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Photographer honours French redheads in photoshoot

A French photographer has held a photo shoot in Quimper (Finistère) designed to honour and celebrate redheads in France, as he claims that "prejudice" against them is "a French thing". 

20 October 2017
By Connexion journalist

Pascal Sacleux, a professional photographer from Rennes and himself also redheaded, held a special open-call photoshoot last Sunday, and invited anyone in the area with red hair to attend. All were welcome: old, young, long hair or short hair, curly or straight.

Sacleux met 124 people at the most recent shoot, building on the 70 from a previous event in Carhaix, and the 90 he shot for an exhibition last year. He is now planning more photoshoots after receiving messages of support from people, including in other regions in France.

Earlier this year, 90 of Sacleux's photos were brought together for an exhibition at Rennes Airport, named ‘Brittany: Freckles Rock’ (‘Bretagne: Ornements de rousseur’).

Sacleux's "mission" is to highlight the qualities of redheads, educate people as to their discrimination throughout the years, and encourage redheads to accept themselves, too. So far, he has taken photos of 328 people. 

Writing on his Facebook page, Sacleux is scathing about what he claims is France's lack of acceptance of redheads.

"French people have no clue about red hair," he writes. "This prejudice and harassment towards red haired people is really a French thing. The French translation for freckles is 'red stain'."

“The suspicion of redheads goes back to the Inquisition,” Sacleux continued, speaking to French news source 20 Minutes. “[They used to say] redheads have no soul, they smell bad; they represent the devil. The Egyptians even burned them. We have been seen as having some kind of handicap, when we don’t have one!”

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Some of the local people who attended last week's photoshoot included a woman named Beatrice, redheaded mother of 10-year-old Evan, also with red hair.

“They used to call me ‘carrot hair’ at school,” she said, speaking to 20 Minutes. “But now, people have more respect about these things.”

However, a family of redheads from Douarnenez, who told 20 Minutes they were “very proud” of their “uncommon hair colour”, stopped short of calling what they had experienced as “suffering”.

“When I was a child, teasing used to upset me, but it built my character,” said father Marc. “[But] ‘suffering’ is a big word...there are other communities that suffer a lot more than us!”

And yet, as well as the airport exhibition, Sacleux is also planning a book of photos and accounts by redheads, in collaboration with French blogger, Élodie Roux-Guyomard, aka Miss Ginger, who was also in attendance at last week's shoot.  

“My blog values red-headedness, and explains the origins of people’s prejudices, to show just how silly and mean ignorance can be,” she said.

Redheads are “often intensely teased and socially isolated during adolescence," explained Sacleux. “I don’t see this personal project as revenge, but as a mission,” he added. “I want to show the state of redheads in France in 2017.”

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