Amber-McNaught.jpg Amber McNaught stands up for the "gingers" of the world...

Jeremy Clarkson told me I was ugly last week. Well, sort of, anyway. The fact that he was actually talking about Prince Harry is totally irrelevant because you see, Prince Harry and I have something in common, and it's this something that makes the public at large tend to either sneer at us or pity us. No, it's not our shared habit of making a fool of ourselves when drunk (although there is that, obviously) - it's our hair.

Yes, Prince Harry and I are both what is commonly (in the UK, at least) known as "gingers". I know, it's awful, isn't it? It's this "affliction" that people like to poke fun at - sometimes gently, sometimes not – and so for today's Big Question I'd like to ask, "why?" Why is it considered OK to mock the redheads of the world – and why do people even dare to do it given how hot tempered we're all supposed to be?

Of course, I get the theory. Here in the UK, red hair is generally considered to be ugly, and let's face it, no one likes a minger, do they? What always amazes me, though, is how ready people are to talk about how much they hate us. Of all the prejudices in all the world, redhead-hating is pretty unique in that it's almost totally acceptable to voice it. It's the hatred we're all allowed to have, and gee, it sure is fun to share a hatred, isn't it?

When you're the one with the "affliction" though, it can all be pretty hard to stomach. When I was a baby, people would regularly tell my mum how sorry they were that I was "ginger" (because every new mother likes to know that you think her baby is ugly), or try to reassure her that "it might go blonde! Or you could dye it! Yes, dye it! Dye it a more acceptable colour, so that the ginger child will not offend mine eyes!" Now that I'm older, they tell me I'm "not bad looking - for a ginger" or ask me if the reason I don't want children is because I'm afraid they'll inherit "it".

As strange as it may seem, these people aren't trying to be rude, or to hurt the feelings of us "gingers": they genuinely think these questions are acceptable because society in general has come to a tacit understanding that red hair is something to be ashamed of, and to poke fun at. Well, it's not like we can make fun of black people/ Jewish people/ disabled people any more, so we need someone to be the underdog, don't we?

Luckily for the redheads of the world, we tend to be pretty hard-ass, and we're getting used to the abuse. We know you don't mean it when you crack jokes about "gingers" or make comments about how if you had a redheaded child you'd probably have to kill yourself, by gosh. And let's face it, I'd rather be red than dead a prejudiced idiot. I just can't quite get used to the fact that I have something in common with Prince Harry...

Amber McNaught is a freelance journalist and Shiny contributor. Don't call her a "ginger" or she'll unleash that red-headed temper on you. No, really...