Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Seeing Red


I don't know if you noticed or not, but I'm a redhead. Yep. It's true. While I did not embrace it as a child, I now love the uniqueness of having red hair.

Do you want to know just how unique redheads are? (say yes)

Did you know... that red hair is a genetic mutation? Professor Jonathan Rees conducted a study of redheads at Edinburgh University. He identified the gene for red hair, the melancortin 1 receptor (MC1R), found on the 16th chromosome. He found that this single gene was responsible for red hair.

Due to the MC1R gene, people with red hair are more sensitive to pain than their dark and blonde haired counterparts. In addition, they often need higher levels of anesthesia to get the same level of sedation. They also tend to be more prone to allergies than those with other hair colors. Redheads tend to bleed more and longer, due to slightly different clotting factors, which is why doctors make special preparations for them in childbirth.

Redheads need far less sunlight to generate Vitamin D than non-redheads. Because their red pigment is an inadequate filter of sunlight, their skin is more susceptible to sunburn, skin cancer and wrinkling with age. (which is why my dermatologist gave me 70SPF sunscreen)

While the individual hairs tend to be thicker, Redheads have the smallest hair count on their heads, about 90,000 as opposed to 140,000 on people with blond and brown hair.

The highest percentage of natural redheads in the world is in Scotland (13%), followed closely by Ireland with 10%. In the U.S., about 2% of the population are natural redheads.

Redheaded men and women have often been ridiculed down through the ages.

For example, when redheaded Queen Elizabeth I reigned over England in the late 1590's, poet Edmund Spenser wrote "The Faerie Queene" in honor of her. After that, the Southwestern English began to believe in fairies. However, they were depicted as being impish and naughty. As a result, fairies were said to have red hair.

In early Germany, natural red hair was considered to be a sure sign that a woman was a witch.

The Greeks believed that redheads became vampires when they died.

According to a Russian adage, "There was never a saint with red hair".

Red hair has long been associated with flaming tempers, peculiarity, lying and red-hot sexuality.

The Egyptians regarded the color as so unlucky that they had a ceremony in which they burned redheaded maidens alive to wipe out the tint.

Adolph Hitler reportedly banned the marriages of two redheads as he feared their children would be "deviant offspring".

"I'll beat you like a redheaded stepchild" is a phrase that was born out of the American south. It implies the status of illegitimate offspring with a white master.

Bees are thought to sting redheads more than others.

In Corsica, if you pass a redhead in the street, you are to spit and turn around.

During the Spanish Inquisition, having red hair was evidence that its owner had stolen the fire of hell and had to be burned as a witch.

Aristotle was known to believe that redheads were emotionally unhousebroken.

A French Proverb states that "redheaded women are either violent or false, and usually both."

The fear of redheads is called "gingerphobia".

Famous Redheads in History


King David

Judas Iscariot

Richard the Lionheart


Ramses II

Galileo Galilei

Queen Elizabeth I

Mary Queen of Scots

Eric the Red

Napoleon Bonaparte

Christopher Columbus

Henry VIII

Anne Boleyn

William Shakespeare

Sir Winston Churchill

Vincent Van Gogh

Antonio Vivaldi

Henri Matisse

George Washington

Thomas Jefferson

Andrew Jackson

Martin Van Buren

General George A. Custer

Emily Dickinson

Mark Twain

Vladimir Lenin

Lizzie Borden

Malcolm X

I'll end this redhead tutorial with my favorite redhead quote:

"While the rest of the species is descended from apes, redheads are descended from cats."

-Mark Twain

My cat addiction makes so much more sense now.


  1. Would you prefer to be the only known born child w/purple hair???

  2. This is my favorite post of all time, of any blog. I'm going to link it on mine.

    I had no idea so many of those historical figures were fellow redheads! And I can agree with the thickness of strands of hair. My hair is thick, yet fine. How is that possible? Must be a redheaded thing.

    So...I can become a vampire when I die? YES. Cullens, here I come.

  3. I didn't know all those people had red hair. They are not often painted that way. Veddy interesting.

    I have a lot of red in my hair. But I wouldn't say it was red. My brother has brown hair. But his beard is red. I wonder about the explanation for that one...

  4. Looks like you're in good (and bad) company!

  5. Ok now that's interesting. And here's how rare redheads are: when Mister Man saw a redheaded girl in the park on Sunday, he shouted, "Hi, Dani!" because there must only be one six year old red headed girl in the world, right? Oh, except for Dani's best friend who is moving back next month (yay!). Cracks me up.

    So what exactly does emotionally unhousebroken mean? I've pondered and given up.

  6. I love the post! Having a blonde, brunette, and a redhead child, (as well as a redhead grandson)this was very interesting. I love the redhair children, they make life interesting! However after years of teasing, Sheldon no longer tells Lauren he is going to beat her like a redheaded stepchild!

  7. I love this post. I learned so much! My daughter and I read it together and she said "all the famous people are redheads!". I guess with redheads it's just how they say for left handed people, only special people have that trait.

  8. Great post! My FIL has gingerphobia. No joke - he used to tell Kevin and his brother that they couldn't date redheads. He has gotten over his prejudice though. Oh - and you get to become a vampire? Sweet.

  9. Wow, now I can say I don't waste my time with blogging-- look how much I learned!

  10. If you are interested in vitamin D you should take a look at www.vitaminD3world.com The site has good summaries of the data and offers a new formulation of vitamin D in a micro-pill formulation. The pills have been formulated with cellulose which absorbs water very quickly. This ensures that the pill breaks up very quickly to provide for maximum absorption. Many vitamin D pills on the market have very poor dissolution properties resulting in poor absorption.
    The site also offers to supply customers with a free supply of 400IU for their children.

    Toby Lee

  11. I am a red head too. I HATED being called Red in high school.(particularly by the boy I liked so much) I have matured though, I giggled when I saw on my moms speed dial my number is labled as "Red" Hah! Thanks for all the info. That was very interesting. though my hair was more orange in elementary school. lol DEF like a mutation.

  12. Cool. I HAD red hair when I was a very small, then it turned brown, and amazingly it's red again, when I color it. BAHAHAHAHAHAHA It's either that or brown with grey...