“Where did she get that red hair?”
This question commonly takes the place of the standard greeting anytime my oldest daughter and I meet someone new. Funny thing is, the person asking never actually expects an answer. It’s just my daughters hair is so shockingly red, people can’t help but comment and that’s the thought which most commonly pops out. Even more comical is the question is usually directed at me, which make the answer kind of captain obvious.
Today is National Love Your Red Hair Day and a great day to debunk a few of the “Facts about Redheads” circling around the web.
- Yes, we are rare.
- Only 2% of the worlds population is a redhead. That puts us in the same category as individuals with green eyes. Speaking of eye color, the facts report the most rare hair and eye color combination as red and blue. So what does that make a red haired green eyed beauty? If you fall into this category, consider yourself a unicorn.
- We’re mutants.
- Red hair is a mutation of the MC1R gene on chromosome 16. The facts report heightened sensitivities to sun and pain.Most redheads are fair skinned due to the specific type of melanin called pheomelanin. Getting down to the roots of our chemical make up explains a great deal. (Hit up Melanin on Wikipedia to get your geek on.)
- We process differently.
- Due to our chromosomal differences, the way our bodies respond is also different. While I agree with the facts that we are more sensitive to pain. I disagree with the common interpretation. In my experience, overall our general pain tolerance is greater, unless, the pain stems from chemicals (such as seasonings or spices) or temperatures (such as burns or extreme cold.) The way our bodies interpret these types of pains is unique to each individual. Redheads either love, love, love spicy foods or are intolerant of them completely due directly to our heightened sensitivities. The same goes with cold weather. It’s also super important to note we process pain meds differently and need approximately 40% more than anticipated to take effect. I learned this the hard way, PLEASE keep this in mid if you or your fave Ruby becomes injured or needs surgery.
- We are feisty.
- When my daughter was young, I would put a hat on her if I needed to get in and out of a store quickly. Imagine growing up with a “B-list” celebrity type status. Literally everywhere we went someone would need to stop us to talk about her flaming locks and share a story of a relative they have/had/once knew who also had hair her color. This creates an individual who is accustomed to being recognized in a crowd and not reserved when speaking to others. When others constantly seek you out to engage with you, very quickly you become willing to share your opinion, with gusto.
- We are sensitive.
- Many of us grew up standing out from the crowd. While adults are always well meaning with their comments, children can be cruel. Having unique features opens the door to unique name calling. Carrot top, freckle face, and even ginger and red can often times bring back memories of relentless teasing many of us suffered as a child. As with any term of endearment, I would suggest checking in with your fave redhead to be sure your sentiment is received positively.
- We don’t go gray.
- Due to the absence of eumelanin (dark brown and black pigment), our hair does not have the pigment necessary to make gray. Therefore we go straight to blonde or white. Red hair is also known to hold it’s pigment longer than blonde or brunette. Sorry, Clairol.
- We are extra passionate.
- According to a Clairol Color Attitude survey, 71% of redheads think that the word “bold” describes them. I think color theory plays a strong role in explaining our reputation. Psychologist Christine Baumanns said it best: “Red stands for passion and when a man sees a redhead he will think he is dealing with a woman who won’t mess around, and gets straight to the point.” The truth is, most rumors have a factual base.
- We are going extinct.
- The ancient Greeks believed redheads would turn into vampires after they died. In Egypt, redheads were buried alive as sacrifices to the god Osiris. During the witch hunts of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in Europe, many women were burned at the stake as witches merely because they had red hair. Hitler banned marriage between redheads. Apparently he thought it would lead to “deviant offspring.” With this horrible historical record of bullying, the fact that as a redhead I’m even here to write an article about redheads is proof enough that we are here to stay.
In celebration of a day just for those touting fiery tresses, no matter if you came by them genetically or “special order”, I hope you’ve enjoyed my opinions. As a third generation redhead, tracing my tresses back to my grandmother, true to redhead form, I believe I speak with authority in these matters but would love to know your thoughts and comments.
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