Redheaded Men Are Finally Getting Their Due

Photographed by Thomas Knights.
Name three hot redheaded men. Prince Harry, Damian Lewis, and Michael Fassbender. Okay, that was easy. Now try come up with a comprehensive list of all the redheaded males in Hollywood. The list is pretty short — too short, actually.
Thomas Knights, a British photographer and natural ginger, knows the struggle with having fiery red locks is real. He was constantly made fun of as a kid and turned to hair dye as a way out. But, after 10 years of his high-maintenance routine, Knights had enough. He decided to to embrace his vibrant hue, and challenge some of the weird stereotypes that come along with being a redhead (thanks, Hollywood).
Red Hot, Knight's first solo exhibition (opening September 3 at the BOSI gallery on the Lower East Side), is doing just that — capturing a variety of redheaded males to prove that yes, gingers can be leading-man hot, too. Ahead, Knights talks about being bullied for his hair color, the stereotypes that ginger males face, and why Hollywood needs to step up and hire more redheaded male protagonists.
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Photographed by Thomas Knights.
Where did inspiration for Red Hot come from?
"It actually came from a very deeply personal place of feeling ashamed of who I was, and then going on this sort of personal journey of dyeing my hair — like many guys in the book and exhibition — and then finally going, 'Fuck this! I'm just going to be ginger and proud.'

"It seems ridiculous, but it's actually a genuine thing that happens quite often. I saw there was an opportunity, as a fashion photographer, to realize a new vision for the ginger male. It's never been done in the history of the world. No one's ever done a celebration of the ginger male before."
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Photographed by Thomas Knights.
What do you think the current stereotype of redheaded males is?
"The archetypal male beauty is tall, dark, and handsome — which red hair and pale skin is very counter-balanced to. The current stereotype is this sort of weak and unheroic character. He's never the leading man, never the heartthrob, never the hero. It leaves males feeling very insecure about having red hair, whereas, if you compare it to female redheads, it's almost the opposite. It's highly sexual and highly aspirational, the ultimate woman. Red hair dye for women is the number one color."
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Photographed by Thomas Knights.
Did you find it difficult being a redhead growing up?
"I hated having red hair. In school, people would say, 'Oh, you fucking ginger,' and I would go, 'You're right. I hate it, too.' The moment I could dye my hair, I did — and I did for 10 years. Eventually I decided it was too much effort, and when I started to embrace my natural hair color, I felt so much better about myself. Now I love it. And, it seems to be a common story for a lot of guys. It’s very much part of their identity — it becomes who they are."
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Photographed by Thomas Knights.
Where did you find the models for the shoot?
"I started looking at modeling agencies in London, and there just weren't any redheads. Quite a few of the agents were surprised that they didn't have any ginger men on their books at all. There's this one agency, AMCK, who had several — well, they had four. So, I shot all of those guys for the trailer, and from that, it kind of went viral. We had loads of people contact us through Facebook and social media in general. Now we’re inundated with guys who want to be in Red Hot."
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Photographed by Thomas Knights.
How do you see Red Hot influencing other realms — be it art, fashion, or entertainment?
"That's my ultimate aim. I really want to influence how Hollywood portrays ginger men on film and television. I don't see why we have so many aspirational females in Hollywood but — apart from Damian Lewis, who is the anomaly — there is an absolute devoid of anything positive in Hollywood for the ginger male.

"What is being put out there in the media, especially in films and on television, is this really negative stereotype of ginger males as the weak, undesirable character. I just felt like there must be an alternative to that. I think Hollywood has got a lot to answer for — we've conditioned a whole multiple generation to think that's the only thing that can possibly exist. I want to present ginger men as alpha males, the hero, the heartthrob."

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