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I have been called a redhead most of my life because, well, I am a redhead. I've also been called a "ginger" and other nicknames which were slightly insulting. So while thinking about topics for my next blog, a few things came to mind. Why do people make fun of redheads? Is it something scientific or just human nature? And what about this "redhead extinction" I've heard about for a few years? Was that really true? I set out to find some answers.

I was disappointed to find that my first question didn't have a concrete answer. It had been asking hundreds of times on Yahoo! Answers, and mostly every answer went along the lines of "I don't know, it's just something to make fun of." I thought that was kind of insulting, since redheads never really did anything to deserve that kind of hate. One answer put it a little better: "It's like how people make fun of blondes. They say they are stupid, superficial, etc. but no one actually means it." Then, upon further research, I found an interesting article about the timeline of "ginger hate." It turns out that redhead hate has reached way back in history with myths that gingers could turn copper to gold or that red hair was an absolute sign of vampirism. Redhead hatred slammed into America in 2005 when South Park aired an episode about a disease gingers give off and the proclamation that "gingers do not have souls," which I have heard at least once every week for the past couple years of my life. It is extremely irritating, and I'd like to see others step into my shoes and understand why this can be annoying. While I was never bullied about being a redhead, the constant reminder was just bothersome. I get it, I have red hair!

So it turns out there isn't really anything "scientific" that can show why people don't like redheads. There is something scientific, however, in proving that the "redhead extinction" myth is just that. A few years ago, National Geographic issued a report saying that redheads would be extinct within one hundred years. The recessive gene would die out and red hair would be gone. It was kind of threatening to hear that you might be the last generation of your color hair. Until now, I hadn't really considered it too much, but then I decided to do some research for this blog.

I found a very interesting article that answered the question. Additionally, I found a lot of information about other redhead myths. I finally found out why redheads have their special color hair. Humans have a pigment called melanin in their skin and hair, produced by cells called melanocytes. These cells have receptors that signal hair color, but these receptors malfunction in redheads, thus giving them their unique hair color. I also found out that some myths about redheads are not true. For example, redheads do not have a higher chance of developing skin cancer. However, I did learn some pretty interesting tidbits. Did you know that redheaded females require more anesthesia than any other females?

Finally, I found an answer to my extinction qualm. And the answer was...NO! The redhead gene, if you can remember from your high school biology class, is recessive, and that National Geographic article that insinuated the gene would die out was absolutely wrong. In fact, genes don't die out of a society, they always exist. The problem is that recessive genes are not seen because they are hidden by the dominant gene. However, this does not mean that redheads will be gone. In fact, because society is a giant melting pot of genes, the recessive trait may spread even further in the future, but that does not necessarily mean the redhead population will increase in time.

So there it was, an answer to my worries. I would not be the last of my kind. Long live redheads!

1 Comment

I understand what you are saying about the redheads having no soul is irritating thing because my best friend is a red head. Over the years i have heard many people say it to her and she found it irritating as well. However, red hair is becoming more popular. Many celebrities and normal people as well are dying their hair. I think the reason that people make fun of red heads is because they are using them as a scapegoat. While looking online for a reason why red heads seem to be the easy target I came across many sites that say how in most places especially America and Europe, red hair is the "minority Human nature is to make fun of something that is different.

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