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.
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.