I'm NOT Going Extinct!

I have natural red hair. In the wide spectrum of color that is red hair, mine in now a light auburn. I say now, because red hair changes its shade throughout the course of a lifetime. When I was a child, it was fiery orange, then it changed to just light orange, then dark strawberry, and now it has darkened to what it is. I think this is the color it is now. I say think, because I've never really been able to peg the color, visually. I don't know why...

Red hair changes through the years, and never turns gray. It turns sandy, and then white. We also lose our color later in life than people with other hair colors, which is fine with me. I look forward to having white hair. I think I'll wear it long and wild and free. Why not? When you're that age, it's not about being sexy any more. The biological imperative is over and you can relax and be what you want to be.

I've never colored my hair, except that one time that in the 1980s when my hairdresser asked me to model her work at a hair show in LA. She put an Annie Lennox orange cellophane on me, which I hated. Fortunately, it faded quickly. Oh, yeah, there was that one summer when I was stupid enough to use the Summer Blonde spray shit. That was awful. In my gardening ball cap and sunglasses that summer, I was often mistaken for Penny Marshall.

While Googling red hair, I came up with a few interesting facts and myths about those of us who were born with it:

No matter how rare natural red hair is, and how beautiful it can be, men and women who possess this color have often been ridiculed, discriminated against, and abused through the ages.

This is true. I blame most of the abuse I received from other kids on my hair. I was called every name in the book that pertains to red hair: "Carrot Top", "Freckle Face", "Tampon Head", "Rusty", "Pinky", "Witch", "Red" ... and more that I won't repeat.

When redheaded Queen Elizabeth I reigned over England in the late 1590s, 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 malevolent. As a result, fairies were said to have red hair.

It didn't help that I was petite and pixie-like in appearance, either. One of the good things that came out of it, though, was that I snagged the role of Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream in high school.

In 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 and, according to a Russian adage, "There was never a saint with red hair". Red hair has long been associated with flaming tempers, peculiarity, and promiscuity.

As someone who is a little more laid-back, some of this was hard to take. Some guy was always trying to pick me up, using lines about my red hair, and even making filthy innuendos to me. And my temper? It has always taken a lot to get it worked up; seldom have I ever just flared up into a seething fit without good warning.

Natural redheads generally have less hair on their heads than blondes or brunettes. Adult blondes have approximately 140,000 hairs, brunettes have 110,000, and redheads only grow about 90,000 hairs on their heads.
Well, I had really, really thick hair. I say had, because it has gotten considerably thinner with the Hashimoto's disease. I hope it comes back, now that I'm in remission.

The first human redheads walked this earth about 50,000 years ago in Africa, and then spread throughout Northern Europe.
And I'll bet we were the outcasts then, too. One thing that few people know about is the bigotry redheads face. Here are a few facts:

The Egyptians regarded the color as so unlucky that they had a ceremony in which they burned redheaded girls alive to wipe out the color.
Why only girls? Typical.

In 2001 an Irish judge fined a man for disorderly conduct stating “I am a firm believer that hair coloring has an effect on temper, and your coloring suggests you have a temper.”
Mouth-breather should be fired, then taken to court.

Red haired children have been historically branded as offspring of “unclean” sex.

In Corsica, if you pass a redhead in the street, you are to spit and turn around.
I'll remember never to visit Corsica.

During the Spanish Inquisition, red hair was evidence that its owner had stolen the fire of hell and had to be burned as a witch.
They were all women, of course. But here are a couple of good things I didn't know:

In Denmark it is an honor to have a redheaded child.
Then why did all those Danish kids in Solvang make my life such a living hell all those years?

In Poland, if you pass three redheads, you'll win the state lottery.
Does that mean in the hall mirror as well? If so, I'm moving to Poland. On a so-so note:

Studies have shown that people with red hair are more sensitive to pain and may require higher doses of pain medication than do their dark and blonde haired counterparts.
This is true. Please pass the Demerol.

A report of redhead extinction has gone around the internet, most recently in 2005, with articles citing the Oxford Hair Foundation as a source. These articles work on the mistaken assumption that recessive geneslike the one for red haircan die out. In truth, recessive genes can become rare, but they don't disappear entirely, unless everyone carrying that gene dies, or fails to reproduce. So while red hair may remain rare, enough of us carry the gene that, barring global catastrophe, we should be around for some time.
All-in-all, just as my mother said I would, I've grown to appreciate my hair color. It makes me different and what might have been otherwise ordinary looks were made "striking" because of my hair color. I'm always amused at people who try every means in the hair dye arsenal to get a natural look. It will never happen because being a natural redhead isn't just about hair color. It's also about skin tone, eye color, eyebrow and eyelash color, life experience and, most of all, attitude garnered from a life of challenges! You can't get that in a bottle.