Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Goodbye Redheads! We'll Miss You... Not!

A week or so ago, a friend of mine posted on her blog that her son said that redheads were going extinct. She’s a redhead and was very saddened by this news. I told her in a comment, that I was thrilled by the prospect that there will come a day when no child will suffer like we did. I think that I kind of ticked her off a bit, because she asked for an explanation… and here it is…

I’m a redhead.

I’m a red head with everything that goes with it… Freckles, pasty white skin, sensitivity to sunlight, very high IQ… yep, the whole nine yards. But, it would seem, unlike others of my kind, I hold no allegiance to my accursed hue… or even to its very existence.
The Oxford Hair Foundation (I had no idea that there is such a place) figures that since only about 4% of the world’s population exhibits the trait given by a recessive “Red Head” gene (MC1R), that red hair will be gone or very rare by the year 2100.

-Happy Dance-

I, like many Redheads, didn’t go to school as a child… I endured it. Kids are mean; all redheads have their tormenters, mine was named Mark (I shouldn't tell you his last name because he’s a total waste of skin and would track me down…) Tolbert. Yep, not a day went by from Kindergarten through to High School where Mark wasn’t calling me something, laughing at my hair color and freckles, or stuffing me into garbage cans, girls bathrooms, lockers, or -insert small container here-
And he wasn’t the only one; I didn’t have a name in elementary school… I had a color. “Hey Red!” that was what most people called me. I was red, except in summer.
Many redheads will go this beautiful strawberry blond color in summer… not me. I “bleach” into a bright florescent orange that lasts from late June until the end of August. I can’t tell you how many times people come up to me to inform me of my hair color. “Hey you’ve got orange hair!”
“Really!?! You don’t say.”

Wow, I’m sounding really bitter here.

I can’t tell you how badly I would love to shake off this pasty hue of mine and… tan. I, and most redheads, fear the sun. I’ve been trained to hide from the sun by a sense of self-preservation. As a child, I spent summer after summer in a state of constant sunburn. I hate the feeling of sunscreen, and it only partly works for me, so I wear long sleeves and hats with wide brims in summer just so I won’t die of sunburn and skin cancer. I’d love to be able to wear baseball caps, I have some great ones, but the tops of my ears burn. If (when) I die of skin cancer, it will originate on the tops of my ears.
Sitting at this moment, typing on my keyboard, I can look down at the freckled tops of my hands with the almost translucent skin beneath, and think that it is most likely the traits I gained from the redhead gene that will someday lead to my death, and people wonder why the eventual extinction of red hair fills me joy and gladness. And I can’t tell you how happy I am that all 4 of my children don’t have red hair.

I’m sorry, I was going to try to make this a funny -ish entry… but the more I type, the more the truth seems to come to the surface. And the truth, for me, about having red hair is this… everyone, deep down, hates red hair, except old women who seem to think that it’s beautiful; it’s probably because they are loosing their eyesight and bright colors stand out.

Just for your amusement, here are some facts I found about red hair.

Harvard dermatologist Madhu Rathak calls redheads “Three-time losers” because their red pigment is an inadequate filter of sunlight, thus their skin is more susceptible to sunburn, skin cancer, and wrinkling with age.
There are two kinds of redhead, according to Mary Spillane, managing director of British image consultants “Colour Me Beautiful.” There’s the “Autumn” type with hazel eyes, and the “Celtic” type with translucent skin, light eyes, and carrot tops… the so called “Leprechaun redness” with which so many people have trouble.
Redheads have always been though untrustworthy. As a 17th century Frenchman observed, “Judas, it is said, was red haired.”
Superstitions: Having red hair is unlucky; it’s lucky to rub a redhead’s head; bee’s sting redheads more often. The Egyptians regarded redheads as being so unlucky that they had a ceremony in which they burned redheaded maidens alive to wipe out the tint, according to author Claudie De Lys.


John'swife said...

Excellent post. As a redhead I concure with most of what you said. My high school experience was not as bad as yours, but elementary through junior high was horrid. I like my hair now, but I would never wish it upon a child. John hopes Kaylee's hair goes red...I hope it doesn't go more than auburn...kids are mean enough.
I can't tell you how many times I check my scalp for precancers and such. The sun is a flaming ball of death to us! I would love to be able to work in my yard during the summer, but the sun nearly kills me. It hurts my skin to even have it exposed...even when I don't burn.

And we are evil and bad luck...what can I say

Melissa said...

Okay, I actually loved this post. And by the way you didn't tick me off at all, not even a little bit. I agree with most of it.....although I have to admit I love being a red head now. (And I don't just get compliments from old grandma's). :) All joking aside though, I used to tell people when I was young that if I ever had a red-headed child, I would flush it down the toilet. Isnt' that awful? I can't imagine feeling that bad now, but it really was THAT bad. People used to shout out from their car windows at me: "Better dead than red." There are too many MEAN people in the world. But I've come to terms with it now and I really am okay with my uniqueness. At any rate, good post! I never knew there was that much information in the world on the color of one's hair. Go figure!

Melissa said...

Oh, and one more thing...I remember Mark Tolbert. I hate to admit it, but I can see him doing those things. He probably doesn't realize how hard he made it for you all those years. Pretty sad, huh?

Murph said...

Ok, so I was wrong about one thing... My wife likes my red (Orange) hair... she really likes it. What is wrong with her!?!

Stacie said...

Melissa is right, I too get compliments from people other than old grandmas...like the time I was loading my children into my minivan and some pervy old guy saw my hair "glowing" from across the parking lot and "just had to come over and compliment it" (his words not mine). I tell people all the time that the ONLY thing I am afraid of in life is the sun...not snakes, not spiders, just the sun.
See, it is good when certain things go extinct.

HIGH STRUNG, low key said...

This is maryellen,
So i was reading your post and thinking...wow I've been enlightened. When I had read about the extinction of red heads I was a little saddened and that is because if i have never experienced being a red head, I never knew. But for the record in all the years that I have known you and your sibblings I have never noticed any thing more then wow you have red hair. I never noticed that you have really white skin or that you have freakles and I'm thinking wow how unobservant am I, I know you are thinking the same thing. Buy maybe that should bring you comfort that their are some out there that see beyond the red hair. Maybe I would feel the same way if by some miracle women with large chests would become extinct, I would sing a most beautiful hallelujah chorus! But unfortunatly that will never happen, and fortunatly for you non of your posterity will suffer!

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