Seeing Red

Yesterday I was approached by an old friend who exclaimed…”You have a rare child.” Joan continued to tell me about a news story she had just watched that morning. “Under 2% of the world’s population are true redheads, and they are becoming extinct, So , Sarah is rare!.” It is true that red hair is the rarest type of natural hair color in humans. I was interested in what she was saying, so I decided to dig up the information to learn about the story.
Redheads are becoming very rare and could be extinct in 100 years, according to genetic scientists. The current National Geographic magazine reports that less than 2% of the world’s population has natural red hair. Red hair is most commonly found at the western fringes of Europe. I also found it interesting that an estimated 40% of Scots carry the red gene and 13% actually have red hair. So, if the “gingers” really want to save themselves they should move to Scotland. Scientists are actually estimating by the year 2060 all redheads will be extinct (Sarah will be nearing her 60’s by that time). After three years with a redhead of my own, I wanted to know what made it so special. Red hair is characterized by high levels of the reddish pigment pheomelanin and relatively low levels of the dark pigment eumelanin.
What is it about redheads? Everyone knows the story of Charlie Brown and his unrequited love for “the little red-haired girl”. There is literally not a single day that goes by without somebody mentioning my daughter’s red hair and blue eyes. Right after she entered the world, her hair caused a stir. All of the nurses were calling others to come see the redheaded baby on the 3rd floor. I am lucky to have a child that embraces her color, although she refers to it as orange (which is actually more accurate). As many famous redheads will prove, they do stand out in our minds…my personal favorite is Lucille Ball. Ann of Green Gables, though fictional, was redheaded. In mythology, Venus was depicted with fiery locks. Cleopatra, Galileo, Emily Dickinson, Napolean, Florence Nightingale and Queen Elizabeth I were all redheaded historical figures. Bette Davis, Mitzi Gaynor (best known for South Pacific), Rita Hayworth, Debra Kerr, Nicole Kidman and Julianne Moore are all legends that also had/have the scarlet locks.
A common stereotype of redheads is that they have fiery tempers. In Anne of Green Gables, it is said about the redheaded heroine, “her temper matches her hair.” They are also supposed to be passionate, stubborn, intriguing and tough. There is even a scientific study that indicates true redheads most often are extremely intelligent. I know the personality of my own redhead, and can say she fits the bill. The funny thing is that she pointed out that we have a red poodle, and a orange tabby. I guess we are partial to the color.

(I’m seriously going to have to get her this shirt, because people actually ask if her hair is natural. Seriously. She is a toddler people!)

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