Life dealt me the recessive gene MC1R (only achievable through both sides of the family) and I arrived with a ‘reddish’ hue to my hair – together with the obligatory pale skin and, a few years later, a mass of freckles. I managed to avoid the ‘Tudor’ blue eyes so I actually have discernible eyebrows. Phew…
When I found this book on the shelf recently it screamed ‘Read Me, Read Me’. So I did.
What a revelation! Little did I know about my heritage and what different cultures felt about my red/auburn/ginger ancestors and modern-day counterparts.
Stereotypes of redheaded women range from the fun-loving scatterbrain to the fiery-tempered vixen or the penitent prostitute. Red-haired men are often associated with either the savage barbarian or the redheaded clown.
I’ve never been a great fan of ‘stereotyping’ and especially not of this negative variety. My only negativity was related to the pitfalls endured on summer holidays where I always ended up swimming in more clothes than I normally wore, in addition to ‘slip, slap & slopping’ in a frenzy and still missing bits that needed TLC in the evening by use of cotton wool balls and calamine lotion. All this angst whilst my so-called friends gambolled and frolicked in the surf like slippery little seals and acquired golden overtones by the minute!
Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables was one of my childhood heroines (for obvious reasons) and when she finally walloped Gilbert Blythe for pulling her pigtail and teasing her mercilessly – OK so she might have been fiery but he certainly had it coming!!
Maureen O’Hara was famous for her fiery nature and red hair in the films but she always had to endure John Wayne – so who wouldn’t want to vent their spleen! Can you see where I am going with this – provocation. Tease a blonde, brunette and any other hair colour under the sun and you would get the same result.
Dwelling in the past isn’t good for you so I quickly read on and sure enough, there were also positives such as redheads being considered the darlings of the Renaissance period. Acclaimed artists such as Degas, Titian and Rossetti couldn’t do without their favourite ‘red-haired’ muses – the first one of note and possibly the first supermodel of her time being Elizabeth Siddal.
I was unaware that many differing cultures to mine (Northern Hemisphere Celt) such as Russian, Italian, Chinese and even some Pacific Islanders also have the recessive gene that sits on Chromosone 16.
But true amazement came in the form of googling – apparently there is Calendar of Redhead Events, Ginger Pride Rallies all over the world and Melbourne has been voted as Host City for the 2017 Ginger Pride Rally which is being held on 29 April – the event raising funds and awareness for, both children’s anti-bullying and skin cancer non-for-profits.
That’s more like it – Go The Reds!!