Title

Ugly duckling to swan: Labeling theory and the stigmatization of red hair

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-1-1997

Abstract

Interviews were conducted with redheads, and labeling theory is used to analyze their stigmatization in society as well as their perceptions of having red hair. First, using the relativistic stance of labeling theory, red hair is described as a type of deviance. Second, the processes involved in the labeling of redheads are examined, especially in regard to how redheads have personally experienced stereotyping. The stereotypes that redheads perceive to be socially constructed are as follows: hot temper, clownish, weirdness, Irishness, not capable of being in the sun, wild women, wimpy men, and intellectual superiority. Finally, the impact of being negatively labeled and treated in society is considered. Redheads typically receive negative treatment as children, and, as a consequence, redheads experience a lowered self-esteem, feelings of differentness, and a sense of being the center of attention. Nevertheless, redheads typically transform a negative experience into a positive one by learning to appreciate their hair color and how it has shaped their sense of self. In essence, they become an example of tertiary deviants.

Publication Name

Symbolic Interaction

Volume Number

20

First Page

365

Last Page

384

Issue Number

4

DOI

10.1525/si.1997.20.4.365

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS