April 22, 2010

Stereotypes about Redheads

I've seen a lot of assertions about how red-haired people tend to differ from other white folks of similar backgrounds (e.g., redhead Irishmen versus brunette Irishmen) over the years:

- Redheads are more fiery-tempered
- Redheads are quirkier, more unpredictable
- Redheads are more muscular (from Covert Bailey, PBS fitness guru)
- Redheads smell better (That's from Tracy Ullman's best character, aged Hollywood make-up artist Ruby Romaine)

I don't see a lot of common ground, so I'm skeptical, but I'm open to suggestions.

In general, there seems to have been more interest in redheads in American popular culture in the middle of the 20th Century.

The Cult of the Blonde really got going in the 1960s, when Sweden was at its peak of fashionability in America, and tanning became trendy. The Southern California outdoor/beach/surfer/bikini lifestyle of the 1960s and 1970s was unfeasible for redheads (sun blocks weren't as effective then), while it made people with light brown hair turn blond in the sun -- i.e., their skin got darker and their hair fairer at the same time, which was a fashionable look for awhile, e.g., Robert Redford as the Sundance Kid or Sports Illustrated swimsuit models like Cheryl Tiegs and Christie Brinkley. Natural redheads got left at home, literally, by the beach lifestyle trend of the era.

After awhile, it became apparent that tanning causes wrinkles, so tanning went out of fashion (although that hard-earned knowledge seems to have been lost on the new Jersey Shore generation), but redheaded women didn't make a particular comeback into trendiness as in the mid-century.

One theory I have is that in the middle of the 20th Century, the existing hair dyes worked better for brunette-to-redhead transformations than for brunette-to-blonde. (Platinum blonde bombshell Jean Harlow's dyeing regimen in the 1930s eventually destroyed her hair and she had to wear a wig.) So, perhaps attention-seeking brunette women in the mid-20th Century were more likely to wind up redheads than blondes, which in turn generated a lot of buzz about what that special something was that redheads had that made them so fascinating. When, in truth, what it really was was that they wanted to be fascinating, so they became redhead as a way to distinguish themselves from the brunette masses.

Since then, it's become chemically easier for ambitious women to go blonde, so they do.

133 comments:

Glossy said...

I associate redheads with mischievousness and high energy.

Gc said...

I have an impression that certain kind of red hair was associated to prostitution at least couple of decades ago. Also it was said that redheads give good...

Anonymous said...

As a redhead I instinctively relate better to other redheads, not sure if it is cultural or innate.
I understand them/us better than brown haired or black haired people who I find especially more inscrutable.

Anonymous said...

Any discussion of this subject has to include Mad Men's Christina Hendricks, who is supposedly a natural blonde but has become an icon as a voluptuous redhead.

Also, my understanding is that the redhead/green eyes gene complex arose again in modern Celts independently of its Neanderthal origins. I used to work closely with Scottish rocker and (natural) redhead Shirley Manson, who has a fiery temper but whose large forehead, small nose and fine features

http://img.listal.com/image/344179/600full-shirley-manson.jpg

look more like the next step in human evolution than a throwback to the Neanderthals.

thedouchbag said...

I once dated this Iranian girl who had natural red hair, it was certainly darker as was her skin color than say Christina Hendricks, but it was certainly red - dark red. She was also fiery tempered and emotional.

I also remember reading an article about how red heads need more anesthetic to dull pain.

My theory is that redheads are like left handed people, they are defective in some way. The red hair is an adaptation to some missing feature.

Dahlia said...

I think one thing that causes some confusion is that there are many people, usually brunettes, who are "hidden reds". They have red hair for the first few weeks or months after birth and they make just enough melanin to cover it up.

How did they get to be this way? Are they halfway between true redheads and non?

In the NYT article about sensitivity, the comments thread revealed many brunettes who related, but every one I saw reported they came from a family of redheads. Someone responded that perhaps this was the reason Irish music was so haunting, we're in a lot of physical and mental pain!

I'll let any doctors speak who come across this thread, but every time I've been ready to give birth, a discussion ensued about how redheads bleed a lot and this was actually taken into account when they prepared to care for me.

Also, for what it's worth, I didn't think the stereotypes were true until after I met my future husband (and only boyfriend). He was perplexed, and expressed this to my grandmother, that someone so meek and mild could suddenly turn so volatile. I protested as I thought I was normal. My wickedly smart and old-fashioned grandmother suddenly yelled out, "Well, duh! She's a redhead, what did you expect?!"

Anne Lindsay, Photographer said...

I'm creating a book called Redheads and More Redheads. A book on the story of the redhead - from 0-100, M or F and beautiful photos. The generalities of redheads are just that generalities. I've found that there are just as many personalities amongst redheads than any other hair color. The main difference is that ALL redheads are approached daily about their hair. That has got to do something to one's personality!

Come see my redhead blog....
http://annelindsayphotography.blogspot.com/ Thanks Anne

Ben Franklin said...

Redactions Revealed: The Six Secrets You Need to Know From the Obama Subpoena Request




1. Obama may have lied about conversations with convicted fraudster Tony Rezko

Blagojevich's lawyers allege that Rezko admitted breaking the law by contributing "a large sum of cash" to a public official. Blagojevich's attorneys say that public official is Obama. Obama said that Rezko never relayed a request from a lobbyist to hold a fundraiser in favor of favorable legislative action. But the point may be moot: regardless of Obama talking/not talking to Rezko, Blagojevich's attorneys say that Obama refused the request regardless.

Redacted portion: However, the defense has a good faith belief that Mr. Rezko, President Obama’s former friend, fund-raiser, and neighbor told the FBI and the United States Attorneys a different story about President Obama. In a recent in camera proceeding, the
government tendered a three paragraph letter indicating that Rezko “has stated in interviews with the government that he engaged in election law violations by personally contributing a large sum of cash to the campaign of a public official who is not Rod Blagojevich. … Further, the public official denies being aware of cash contributions to his campaign by Rezko or others and denies having
conversations with Rezko related to cash contributions. … Rezko has also stated in interviews with the government that he believed he transmitted a quid pro quo offer from a lobbyist to the public official, whereby the lobbyist would hold a fundraiser for the official in exchange for favorable official action, but that the public official rejected the offer. The public official denies any such conversation. In addition, Rezko has stated to the government that he and the public official had certain conversations about gaming legislation and
administration, which the public official denies having had.

Redacted footnote: The defense has a good faith belief that this public official is Barack Obama.

2. Obama may have overtly recommended Valerie Jarret for his Senate seat
Blagojevich's defense team basically alleges that Obama told a certain labor union official that he (Obama) would support Valerie Jarrett's candidacy for the Senate seat. Jarrett, referred to as "Senate Candidate B", is now a senior advisor to the president.

Redacted portion: Yet, despite President Obama stating that no representatives of his had any part of any deals, labor union president told the FBI and the United States Attorneys that he spoke to labor union official on November 3, 2008 who received a phone message from Obama that evening. After labor union official listened to the message labor union official told labor union president “I’m the one”. Labor union president took that to mean that labor union official was to be the one to deliver the message on behalf of Obama that Senate Candidate B was his pick. (Labor union president 302, February 2, 2009, p. 7).

Labor union official told the FBI and the United States Attorneys “Obama expressed his belief that [Senate Candidate B] would be a good Senator for the people of Illinois and would be a candidate who could win re-election. [Labor union official] advised Obama that [labor union official] would reach out to Governor Blagojevich and advocate for [Senate Candidate B].. . . [Labor union official] called [labor union president] and told [labor union president] that Obama was aware that [labor union official] would be reaching out to Blagojevich.” (Labor union official 302, February 3, 2009 p. 3).

3. A supporter of President Obama may have offered quid pro quo on a Jarrett senate appointment
Redacted portion: Supporter of Presidential Candidate Obama is mentioned in a phone call on November 3, 2008, having offered “fundraising” in exchange for Senate Candidate B for senator (Blagojevich Home Phone Call # 149).

Source: http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/The-Six-Secrets-You-Need-to-Know-From-the-Blagojevich-Filing-91848634.html#ixzz0lsRkgvfZ

Anonymous said...

I knew several redheads of both sexes, and I don't think they have any unusual characteristics. They get attention simply because (naturaly) red hair is so rare.

For some reason many people seem to associate red hair with women. Of course there are equal numbers of both sexes with red hair.

OneSTDV said...

"Redheads are more muscular (from Covert Bailey, PBS fitness guru)"

The best example is comedian Carrot Top. Though he's probably juicing.

Anonymous said...

When, in truth, what it really was was that they wanted to be fascinating, so they became redhead as a way to distinguish themselves from the brunette masses.

This could be why some use the word "redhead" rather than the more accurate "ginger" to describe people with orange-brown / orange-blonde hair. You only get really redheads with hair dyes.

It also doesn't explain observations about men, who don't dye their hair - that orange-heads are mysteriously laid-back and but then can go berserk.

It's possible ginger women have a distinct personality but not the stereotype of "redheads" with its origin in the cultural practice of wild women dying their hair.

Basil Ransom said...

Roissy quotes Cesare Lombroso, who finds that redheads are much more common among women convicted for whorish offenses: http://books.google.com/books?id=S3g29DlTxNsC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_v2_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q=red-haired&f=false

A more recent study confirms greater auburn sex drive: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/alltherage/2008/03/redheads-have-m.html

In my experience, red-headed females are more extroverted, outgoing. I'd guess that these sorts of people have more sex anyway, so extroversion might reduce or eliminate the libido difference.

jody said...

the biggest, and seemingly least accurate stereotype, is that people with red hair are irish.

irish people generally do not have red hair. most irish people look like the irish characters in boondock saints. non-descript white guys with fair skin and dark brown hair (which is what almost all european men look like when they are not tan.) irish people do not regularly look like conan o'brien, real life charactures of irish stereotypes.

red hair is actually most common in britain, especially scotland and wales, but it's also widespread in england. see rupert grint, the english actor who plays ron weasley in the harry potter movies. so while people with red hair might be irish or part irish, they're more likely to be english or scottish.

red hair appears in scandinavia, which could be from scandinavian men raiding britain 1000 years ago and raping the local women.

genes for very pale skin, which disable pigment in the skin and, as a side effect, in the hair, are what cause red hair. there is no such thing as genes for red hair. all humans would have yellow or red hair if their genes did not instruct their skin and hair to produce pigment.

Steve Sailer said...

I haven't been to Dublin since 1965, but I know the west of Ireland has a lot of redheads. I guesstimated 30% when I was there in 1987.

Kylie said...

Steve Sailer said: "One theory I have is that in the middle of the 20th Century, the existing hair dyes worked better for brunette-to-redhead transformations than for brunette-to-blonde...So, perhaps attention-seeking women in the mid-20th Century were more likely to wind up redheads than blondes, which in turn generated a lot of buzz about what that special something was that redheads had that made them so fascinating."

And by the mid-20th century, Technicolor in Hollywood films was in more widespread use so redheads showed to advantage. In the black and white "Thin Man" films of the 30's and 40's, you can't tell that Myrna Loy was a redhead, just as you couldn't tell Rita Hayworth had dyed her black hair red--it looked brown onscreen. But in the Technicolor films of the 50's, the red hair of actresses like Arlene Dahl and Rhonda Fleming was part of their appeal. Audiences could see that Deborah Kerr and Kate Hepburn had lots of red in their hair, too.

Also the rise of the red-headed Suzy Parker, fashion's first "super model", in the 40's and 50's was probably a factor.

On a personal note, I'm married to a stereotypically hot-headed red-head.

agnostic said...

Redheads feel pain more easily. As a tutor, I noticed that when I popped in on a student to see how their progress was going, the redheads always startled easily -- like, shot up in their chair and gasped.

"Fiery-tempered" probably not, or else they'd be well represented among rock musicians -- or any performer / entertainer group. You don't really see that, even though Celtic people have contributed a lot to those areas.

In my experience it's more like "more irritable."

The Negro Timoteo said...

@Ben Franklin:

Rod Blagojevich calls for Barack Obama to testify at forthcoming corruption trial

Re. redheads: I always chalked up redheaded males' distorted personalities to the teasing they underwent as kids. Of the two in my grade-school class, one has been sentenced for vehicular assault, and the other is gay.

jody said...

red hair is also a highly sexual dimorphic trait. it's socially disasterous for a male to have very pale skin and red hair, while it is socially acceptable, even desirable, for females to have the same phenotype.

Steve Sailer said...

Re: Technicolor ...

Right, Lucille Ball apparently was a natural brunette, who was platinum blonde as a young starlet, but when Technicolor came along and she was maturing into a comedienne, she switched to red because it showed up well on Technicolor.

Of course, she earned her greatest fame on black and white TV around age 40, but her red hair was featured on lots of magazine covers.

As the biggest TV star in the world, she probably single-handedly had a lot of influence on 1950s stereotypes of redheads as quirky and excitable.

Anonymous said...

A bit off topic, but what about the phenomenon of Japanese hipsters attempting to go blonde. These poor souls have such heavily pigmented hair that it usually ends up a strange brassy-orange color. Not exactly gingers, but close.

Richard Hoste said...

When I was a kid the two kids in my grade who were know as the toughest of any of us were the only two redheads I can recall in my school.

Is their a glass ceiling for redheads? How many congressmen had red hair in their youth?

Dahlia said...

Steve,
Not so much about intrinsic differences, but the photographer showing up says something about what life is like for us redheads, at least the women. Not just what she said, but the fact that a stranger showed up at your thread for the sole purpose of soliciting redheads for a book about them.

We are treated as special. Especially by men which is both a blessing and a curse. On the whole, it's much better to be thought attractive and desired so I don't complain. It's a problem for me now as a mother of four daughters, none of whom have red hair (3 brunettes and 1 blonde); nearly every time we go out, a stranger will come up and bemoan the fact that they did not get my hair. Just three days ago, I had loaded up all my children in our van at a plant nursery when a man stopped me to go on and on about how special redheads were. I literally stepped away to try to get out of earshot of the kids, but they heard it: "Mommy, mommy, why did that man say redheads were special?"

Anonymous said...

Judy said:
"red hair is also a highly sexual dimorphic trait. it's socially disasterous for a male to have very pale skin and red hair, while it is socially acceptable, even desirable, for females to have the same phenotype."

Besides the inappropriate use of the term sexual dimorphism (the supposed discrimination is a social construct, not genetic), I would argue that it's not really a big problem. The percentage of women who like red hair is always higher than the percentage of men who have red hair for the studies I've read. Yeah, it's a pain wading through the women who are genuinely repulsed by red hair, but finding a girl that adores it easily makes up for social stigma.

James Kabala said...

In Gulliver's Travels, Gulliver claimed that the red-headed Yahoos were the most oversexed.

Redheads of my own acquaintance have had pretty diverse personalities, and off the top of my head I can't think of any who were either oversexed or fiery-tempered - quite the reverse; most were very mild-mannered.

James Kabala said...

Also remember the expression "red-headed stepchild," contrasted with "fair-haired boy" - apparently the thinking behind the stereotypes is blond is good, redhead is bad, and brown is the boring default.

kudzu bob said...

Ah, this post brings back some memories. I once lived down the street from J., a red-headed massage therapist straight out of something Roissy might post. She was so maddeningly good looking that I once watched two grown men who should have known better get into a midnight parking lot brawl over her, to her ill-concealed delight.

J. chain-smoked cloves as well as copious amounts of ganja, chattered nonstop about nothing in particular, decorated her tiny apartment with all this crap she had brazenly stolen from Pier One when she used to work there, was into sky-diving and extreme sports, and even when she was sober always drove like Mad Max through the nuclear wasteland.

It was this last bit that caused her trouble. Although she could usually flirt her way out of traffic tickets, sometimes even the fuzz have to make their quota, so she was invariably having to pay fines and worrying about losing her license. She complained about this to no end.

One fine day we were walking down the street of this modest Southern city when along comes L., a political operative and friendly acquaintance of mine. Accompanying him was Fred Thompson, the character actor and, at the time, junior Republican Senator of Tennessee, not to mention Presidential hopeful.

We chatted very briefly, no more than a few moments. Then Senator Thompson, an imposing character and ever the ladies’ man, turns to J. and asks in his courtliest, smoothest fashion if she has any concerns that he should relate to his colleagues in Washington.

“Yeah,” she blurted. ‘Those lousy cops are always pulling me over and giving me tickets! I don’t know why, but they’ve got it in for me!”

Talk about not missing a beat. The Senator smiled, told he he’d see what he could do, then raised his forefinger in the air and said sternly, “Remember, young lady, don’t forget to vote.”

Off they went, and J., who probably never read a newspaper in her life, says to me, “Say, who was that guy, anyhow?”

I started laughing, and for some reason that made J. angry, and the madder she got the funnier it all seemed, until I practically stroked out right there on the sidewalk.

Anonymous said...

it's socially disasterous for a male to have very pale skin and red hair, while it is socially acceptable, even desirable, for females to have the same phenotype.



Really? Data, please. I know a number of successful red headed men and none who are social disasters.

Anonymous said...

I've found that there are just as many personalities amongst redheads than any other hair color. The main difference is that ALL redheads are approached daily about their hair. That has got to do something to one's personality!



I would assume that this is less of an issue in Ireland, Britian, and Scandanavia than in the US, where red heads make up such a small fraction of the total population.

Harry Baldwin said...

Anonymous said...A bit off topic, but what about the phenomenon of Japanese hipsters attempting to go blonde. These poor souls have such heavily pigmented hair that it usually ends up a strange brassy-orange color. Not exactly gingers, but close.

My brother, who's lived in Japan for decades, tells me they call the result "tea colored." There's only so much Asians can do with their hair; leaving it alone is probably the best option.

A strand of hair of an Asian is considerably thicker than that of an African. The thickness of white people's hair is in between.

Anonymous said...

Both of my sisters have red hair, I have dark brown which turns auburn when I spend a lot of time in the sun.

We all have green eyes. Our parents both have brown hair and brown eyes.

All I can say is our dad has a fiery temper which we each inherited. It's not the hair.

Anonymous said...

Different countries define red hair differently. What is often considered red hair in the States is ginger in Britan, for example.

I have read that red-headed women bleed more in pregnancy. Do redheads have thinner skin?

"I also remember reading an article about how red heads need more anesthetic to dull pain."

I have read the same thing. Except that I am not sure whether more anesthetic is needed, or whether it is just that the effect of anesthetic is delayed in redheads, which causes impatient doctors to administer more anesthesia than is necessary. Happened to me once (I'm a redhead).

Noah said...

Redheads are supposed to be smart! Which is probably because Scottish people often have red hair, and the Scottish are the world's ultimate Elite Minority...

Anonymous said...

Are there any studies of men who are especially attracted to red heads as opposed to blonds or brunettes. (I know they exist because I am one -- though I only figured it out looking back.)

Anonymous said...

carrot top give me the creeps.

ironrailsironweights said...

Could it be that redheads have touchy personalities because they've gotten annoyed with people constantly making an issue of their hair?

Peter

691 said...

Interesting idea that most redheads were dyed.

Probably explains the widespread meme "Do the curtains match the rug?"

ironrailsironweights said...

Probably explains the widespread meme "Do the curtains match the rug?"

A tragically obsolete expression, now that the "rug" has almost certainly been shaved away :(

Peter

Anonymous said...

Ginger!

Anonymous said...

The fact that Tony Rezko hasnt fallen down the stairs, drowned in the bath, died of a mysterious heart attack etc gives me some hope that the system is not totally corrupt.

If this were a movie or a novel he would have been whacked by now for sure.

Jack said...

There have been at least 3 U.S. Presidents with red hair- Thomas Jefferson, Martin Van Buren (nicknamed "the red fox" because of his hair color and political slyness), and Calvin Coolidge (nicknamed "Red" as a child). Andrew Jackson was also a redhead, although his hair had turned gray by the time he was elected President.

There may have been other men with red hair who have served as President, depending on how red hair is defined (is reddish brown hair red or brown?). George Washington and John F Kennedy, for example, have been described in some places as having red hair, and in others as having brown. I have also read references to Jimmy Carter having red hair, although I never would have guessed it from the photographs that I have seen(perhaps it was red when he was younger).

Cinco Jotas said...

Forty comments in and no one has yet mentioned Jim Webb?

Now he's got a bad dye job, but back in the day, he was a fiery, hot-tempered redhead.

Captain Jack Aubrey said...

Any attribution of common features to redheads needs to take into account the fact that perhaps the overwhelming majority of American redheads are descended from a common ethnic group - Scots, Highland Scots especially, or their near neighbors. So the similarity might be a result of other genes they happened to acquire along with their hair color.

If you saw a dark-haired, olive-skinned Italian guy with a fiery temper you wouldn't attribute it to his hair color but to his ethnicity.

red hair appears in scandinavia, which could be from scandinavian men raiding britain 1000 years ago and raping the local women.

And coming back 9 months later to collect the children?

red hair is also a highly sexual dimorphic trait.

It makes me wonder if the television age is in part responsible for the apparent shortage of redheads in high office. Supposedly Jefferson, Washington, Van Buren, Eisenhower, King David, Alexander the Great, Winston Churchill and quite a few others were redheads. I can't think of any politicians now who have red hair.

Anonymous said...

Don't you mean Gingers?

BamaGirl said...

One of the stereotypes about red-heads (women at least) that I here guys comment on often is that they are either extremely attractive or extremely unattractive, unlike blonds and brunettes where many fall in between.
I think there is something to this. The features associated with red hair either work or they don't.
None of the redheads I've known were really that quirky or fiery-tempered though. All of the red-heads I've known have been really intelligent however.

Anonymous said...

The fact that Tony Rezko hasnt fallen down the stairs, drowned in the bath, died of a mysterious heart attack etc gives me some hope that the system is not totally corrupt.

Donald Young and Lt. Quarles Harris Jr. say, "Hi!"

robert61 said...

There is also a subcategory of Semitic redheads. This was pointed out to me a few years ago by a Jewish-American friend with thick, curly, almost kinky red hair. She had never thought of herself as being especially Jewish-looking, but a new hairdresser asked if she was Jewish straight away and told her that the tipoff was her red hair.

Marc B said...

"One of the stereotypes about red-heads (women at least) that I here guys comment on often is that they are either extremely attractive or extremely unattractive"

I'd replace good looking for attractive. Many of the awkward and gangly gingers are still surprisingly attractive, but I do agree that there isn't as much middle ground.

The red hair in my family, oddly enough, comes from the Sicilian side. My grandfather was a first generation immigrant, and the US Italian community assumed he was a Scotsman, and they initially mistook his regal manner for snobbery. My nephew inherited his red hair and some of his Cro Mag features. He's a normal, well-adjusted, private high school student athlete that want's to be the next Toby Gerhart. I do think he was treated extra special by the family because of his red hair and the first-born of the 3rd generation.

Anonymous said...

Red headed women, in my experience, are the kinkiest. Blondes next. Brunettes, most conventional. YMMV

Anonymous said...

Surveys of online dating preferences reveal that there is a small social penalty for red-headed males, something like 5-10%.

jody said...

"I haven't been to Dublin since 1965, but I know the west of Ireland has a lot of redheads. I guesstimated 30% when I was there in 1987."

i checked wikipedia and the source cited there claims 10%. let's say they underestimate and it's actually 15%. what does that mean? only 1 in 8 people in stereotypical "red hair people central" even has red hair. by far, irish people have dark brown hair, like all europeans, like all humans. ireland is kind of a technology country now, and i encounter irish programmers and science types, and these guys pretty much look like colin farrell, or the bad guy (patrick bergen) in the movie version of tom clancy's patriot games. harrison ford, also half irish, no red hair. sean bean's hair is not dark brown though, it's somewhere between light brown and red.

i'm not saying no irish people have red hair, what i'm saying is, even irish people don't have that much red hair. red hair is not predominant even in "red hair people central". it's slightly more common in britain, with rates at 15%, and since there are a lot more people in britain, there's a lot more english and scottish red heads than irish red heads. when you see somebody with red hair, it's more likely that they are english or scottish than they are irish. this is the incorrect stereotype, that we automatically think "ireland!" when we see red hair.

now, lots of irish people who do not express the phenotype are likely carrying the genotype. they have some of the genetic instructions for making skin and hair with no pigment, but they are not expressing it. that's probably the actual situation. the wikipedia source cites a 40% rate of carriers. the whole purpose of the gene, MC1R, which disables pigment in the skin and hair, is probably to take advantage of the perpetually cloudy weather over those islands west of europe. not many photons get from the sun, through the clouds, to hit your skin, and be converted into vitamin D. so pale skin is an advantage in a very cloudy place. but, if we look at evidence from geology, britain and ireland only broke away from continental europe about 9000 years ago. this is probably not enough time for all humans in an isolated breeding group to accumulate the same mutation. in this case, MC1R. which would explain why, even in an environment in which having almost no pigment is an advantage, only 40% of the population has accrued MC1R. 9000 years is just not enough time for it to be evenly distributed to everybody via random sex.

that's still well within the envelope of the viking age though. which started around 700 AD. plenty of time for men from norway to raid britain, take women carrying MC1R back to scandinavia, have kids with them, and produce the red headed vikings seen in "how to train your dragon" or myriad other viking tales.

Anonymous said...

"The red hair in my family, oddly enough, comes from the Sicilian side'

Could this be from the Norman influence in Sicily? Normans originally from Scandinavia, via Normandy.

Whiskey said...

A lot of times its just a few notable guys or gals who have an impact.

I would say, the impact of Damien Lewis (Captain Dick Winters, Band of Brothers, and Charlie Crews, Life) along with 1950's throwback Christina Hendricks, and before that Buffy co-star Alyson Hannigan, made male redheads the model of stoic but intelligent masculinity, and female redheads sexy.

Conan O'Brien constantly mocks his paleness and red hair, but given the right attitude it can be an interesting alternative to simply "White Guy = evil" used in movies and TV, and something that distinguishes the male actor from others in scenes. David Caruso is mocked, but makes lots of money (and is at least, memorable) as a male redhead in authority in CSI: Shades of Justice.

Blago is obviously staying in the spotlight so it's very hard to whack him. Rezko probably has something special squirreled away for just such an occasion. Perhaps a video, of embarrassing moments. It's just such stuff that distinguishes the more thoughtful crook from your garden variety thug.

Anonymous said...

It's such a rarity, and so striking, that many people are intrigued. Even in Ireland, the redhead is not as common as believed---it's largely from the Norse Invaders, whereas the brunettes with light skin are the old Celtic line---so that rarity makes it exciting. And in the US, where there are so many races, redheads are even more rare.

bjdouble said...

As the millionaire matchmaker lady says, from the show on Bravo, redheads are not the freshest produce in the store.

james said...

It's become more difficult in recent years to be a redhead.

Even the Australian government makes fun of you for the greater good.

Cordelia said...

Basil Ransom said: "Roissy quotes Cesare Lombroso, who finds that redheads are much more common among women convicted for whorish offenses...."

That book was published in 1893. Might there have been some discrimination against redheads back then that led to a lot of lower-class redheads having to resort to prostitution for a living?

Anonymous said...

I would assume that this is less of an issue in Ireland, Britian, and Scandanavia than in the US, where red heads make up such a small fraction of the total population.

Well, Anonymous, you're wrong about Britain. It's a bigger issue in the UK-people talk smack to gingers much more than they do here.

It surprised me when I was stationed there-children are merciless about it, and if you get a few beers in them, a lot of British adults are, too.

This was, in my experience, less true in Scotland than it was in England and Wales, but I did hear Scots complain about the ginger, too.

Former Military Person

Cordelia said...

Dahlia said: "I think one thing that causes some confusion is that there are many people, usually brunettes, who are 'hidden reds'.

Anonymous said: "Both of my sisters have red hair, I have dark brown which turns auburn when I spend a lot of time in the sun.

"We all have green eyes."


I've got dark brown hair that doesn't turn auburn in the sun, but I have red highlights which get brighter red in the summer. Also have the green eyes. Several of my cousins have the same phenotype. ;-) And several of my other cousins who are blondes also have the red highlights. Our grandfather who was redheaded obviously had some powerful genes! :-p

There's a LOT of redheads, though, in my extended family and the range of colors goes from very light strawberry-blondes to really, really orange carrot tops.

One of the orangiest (if that's a word) is one of my male cousins and he is completely bonkers -- has an extreeeemely outgoing personality. One of his sisters is also equally orange-red but she is very much an introvert. The two couldn't be more opposite -- in fact, they don't get along to such a degree that they don't even speak to each other anymore. :-/

I think there is an "overly-sensitive" side to redheads, including being more sensitive to pain. And maybe that's why my two cousins don't speak -- whatever emotional hurt they experience from the other, well that gap can never be bridged. Just too painful. ??

R. J. Stove said...

Australian redheads who have achieved iconic status in their own country seem disproportionately numerous. Hibernian ancestry at work, I wonder?

Offhand, I can think of three:

(a) Ginger Meggs, comic-strip hero since 1921 (www.gingermeggs.com);

(b) Australia's current Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard;

(c) Pauline Hanson, former anti-Third-World-immigration spokeswoman.

Neither (b) nor (c) could be described as even remotely glamorous in the Christina Hendricks / Rita Hayworth sense. On the contrary, those who find their redheadedness alluring do so because it represents gritty Irish / working-class absence of airs and graces.

Cordelia said...

Terrified girl, 12, dyes ginger hair blonde after receiving death threats from schoolmates

James said...

Two other famous redheads unmentioned so far:

* Bernard Shaw (before his hair turned white)

* Elizabeth I (when she still had hair at all)

Both seem to have been largely asexual in practice, though both were addicted to ostentatious flirtation.

D. Colls said...

Another national oddity. There's a strange bronze-orange shade of hair which appears, in my experience, to be unique to (and very common among) Koreans, primarily though not exclusively Korean males. I've never seen it with Japanese or Chinese, let alone with Westerners.

Presumably there is something unique to Korean hair which, when dyed, becomes this weird bronze-orange. No doubt it's considered by Koreans themselves to be hip; but I - though highly susceptible to Asian female beauty in general - find it utterly revolting.

Dahinda said...

All of the redheads that I know are assholes. This might just be a coincidence since I also know a lot of non-red head assholes.

Anonymous said...

So what's up with the red beard? I've known various men of Irish/English/Scottish descent who have brown to dirty blonde hair. Yet, each winter, these fellows sprout a bright red beard. IIRC, several of the New England Patriots' offensive linemen exhibit this same phenomenon.

Laura said...

Both my mother and my sister in law are redheads, they are the real redheads with pale skin and freckles. One is of English descent and one is of Polish descent. They are both smart and can be temperamental. They tend to look pretty when they wear make-up. As they get older the redness in their hair fades.
Someone on here said they feel pain more easily. My mother has had problems with anesthesia not working for her.
Some men do like redheads. My mother told me that when she was younger men her own age seem to prefer blondes and brunettes, but older men seemed to especially like her. This was the time when it was fashionable to be tan as Steve said (1960's and 1970's) and obviously she couldn't be.

Laura said...

Dahlia,
I'm the daughter of a redhead and I don't have red hair myself. What you are saying is true. My mom always seemed to attract more attention because of her red hair. It's just unique.

keypusher said...

My theory is that redheads are like left handed people, they are defective in some way. The red hair is an adaptation to some missing feature.

Could you (or anyone) elaborate on this? I am left-handed and defective, but I thought the two were unrelated.

James Kabala said...

Robert61: Indeed, at one time there was a strong association between red hair and Jewishness in European culture, usually meant as an insult toward both groups. (Judas was said to have had red hair, for example.) I don't think I've ever met one myself, though.

Anonymous said...

The old 'crazy redhead' stories were a branch of English racial slurs against Irish. See Flashman's worry that Elspeth would pop out 'something with red hair and a pug nose'.

Dan Kurt said...

I am an expert on Red Heads as I had a redheaded (German descent) grandmother and have been married to a redhead (Irish descent) for nearly 43 years.

Their personalities were/are the same: Cyclothymic mood swings and quick transitions from overt affection to near rage, the so called "short fuse" effect. Both women produced/produce a roller coaster life for those around them. Both women attracted/attract people, made/make friends (and enemies) easily, were/are the star of the party, Neither were/are any sort of wall flower. I can not say about my Grandmother but I suspect it was true as I can say about my wife, especially during our first decade together, this woman is ready to f**k or fight at any time.

God bless redheads. One always knows what they are thinking as they can't hold back. They are the opposite of Machiavellian.

Dan Kurt

Captain Jack Aubrey said...

Off-topic, but the Arizona immigration bill (which I'm betting will get vetoed five minutes before closing time, since Brewer has started talking tough on the matter to offset the veto) has Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds talking. He thinks the bill may be un-constitutional, but says: "Were I representing Arizona, I’d argue that the federal government is in default on its “protection against invasion” responsibility, and that this empowers the state to resort to self-help."

If Glenn Reynolds is calling the 460,000 illegal immigrants living in Arizona "invaders," we've come a long way in the enforcement debate.

Paul D said...

Some years ago, I read a review of a book about the high incidence of architects who were
(a) red haired
and
(b) left handed
This suggested a link between visual -spatial skills ( and their sidedeness in the brain) and red hair

Edinburgh, Scotland is said to have the highest % of redheads in the world.
PS Its architecture is good, too

thedouchbag said...

"A strand of hair of an Asian is considerably thicker than that of an African. The thickness of white people's hair is in between."

Not only is there a difference in thickness, but also shape.

Viewing via Cross section, african hair is flat, while for asians it's a circle. Europeans and middle easterners are elliptical, with the latter closer to flat.

And among europeans, there is also a difference between blonds and dark haired. A Blonde swede would have also have thinner hair than a dark haired italian. And not only thinner, but more hair per square inch of scalp than a dark haired person.

Anonymous said...

The preoccupation with Redheads has something to do with the discrediting of Blonde Nordic types post-WWII. People can rhapsodize about gingers and their inherent qualities without appearing unseemly or racist. And look at Stormfront, which has banned the Swastika in favour of the Celtic Cross. Being "Celtic" affords White people the luxury of being both "superior" and "downtrodden" in the same manner as Jews, or for that matter, pre-war Germans. White people who self-identify as Celtic have succumbed to enemy capture and become fellow victims; and, yet, cannot relinquish their innate elitism. This leads to an overweening sense of entitlement and god-knows-what. The Celtic trend is the beginning of a wider insurgency amongst "beleaguered" Whites.

Neil Craig said...

Isaac Asimov once suggested that the reason why redhead girls have a reputation as fiery but boys don't is that people bring them up with that expectation so they never learn silence whereas boys behaving like that get into fights & learn.

Jack Burton said...

What the fuck is a brunette Irishman?

Whatever it is, it ain't marching in the parade.

Anonymous said...

Steve, the word "awhile" means "for a while." So when you write "for awhile" you are really saying "for for a while." Same with "after awhile." Please be more attentive.

Snorrebrod said...

Perhaps the notion that "redheads are more fiery-tempered" (excitable) and/or more sexually excitable/ passionate stems not from any unusually emotional character, but from their appearance.

True redheads generally have very light skin (redheads' skin-melanin mechanisms are screwed up, hence the "turkey egg" effect).

Very light skin shows flushing or ruddiness more easily.

Peter Frost and others have commented a fair amount on flushed or ruddy skin appearance as a signal of (sexual or other) excitement or emotional state (or character).

(Women pinch or rouge their cheeks to ruddy them up when they wish to appear sexually attractive.)

Even if redheads are no more excitable than other people, they may appear to be more excited (at any given level of emotional activation) because their skin flushes so easily.

Since redheads are a minority in many populations, observers accustomed to react to visible pinkness in non-redheads may unconsciously rank redheads' pinkness on the same scale and estimate redheads to be more excited than they really are.

At the same time, there may be some confusion of perception between ruddy/flushed skin and "red" hair. Flushed skin, reddish hair... they blur together at a distance or in the peripheral vision. Redheads may "look" excited even when they aren't, especially as their hair and skin color blend in the perception of the observer.

Once "redheads" get a reputation (deserved or not) for excitability, and especially for sexual passion, some people will try to borrow that reputation by coloring their hair even if they lack the translucent skin to go with it. Of course, too many fake redheads in circulation will dilute the impression made by real redheads and diminish their reputation.

Also, when people around redheads see them as excited (whether they really are or not), those people will react to them in an excited fashion (excitement is contagious). Even a non-excited redhead will tend to become reciprocally excited. Every time a redhead joins a group of normal people s/he may prime a feedback loop of excited reactions which perks up everyone. That redhead may then get a reputation for excitement because, after all, s/he's always getting excited!

Finally, I note that the Irish (for example) often have very light skin even when they have dark hair (as many of them do). The generic Irish reputation for excitability may come partly from the same ease of skin flushing as redheads' reputation.

As for movie stars going blonde more than "auburn" now, I think you've probably explained it (improved coloring technology), but there may be a slight influence from social factors-- blonde hair looks most natural on light-skinned people. Many brown- or sallow-skinned women (e.g.g., latinas, Asians) lighten their hair but stop at some reddish tone. White movie stars may not wish to share hair tints with latina or Asian women.

tommy said...

I have a younger cousin who is a classic carrot-top. He is a 6'5" ogre, much taller than his mother or father. His parents checked to see if he had any pituitary problems, but apparently he is normal. He is certainly muscular (but also heavy-set) and probably weighs over 300 pounds. He was an obnoxious, high-strung troublemaker when he was younger, and he certainly does have an Irish temper. In spite of being a big guy, he seems sensitive to pain. He also has dyslexia.

I would love to know if there might be correlations between hair color and hormone levels. I'm also curious about the possibility of neurological correlates with hair color. I seem to recall a study a few years ago that found some association between blond hair and fearfulness.


There is also a subcategory of Semitic redheads. This was pointed out to me a few years ago by a Jewish-American friend with thick, curly, almost kinky red hair.

Amy Alkon is a good example of a Jewish redhead. I like to call 'em "Esau's Jews."

lds on lsd said...

Are red heads more fiery? Two words: axl rose.

Anthony said...

Jersey Shore girls are probably mediterranean, and can thus tan with less skin damage than their northern euro counterparts on Longuyland.

Brent Michael Krupp said...

Redheads really do need more anesthetic: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/487261

Translation of that article: they had to use more gas on redheads before they wouldn't flinch to a painful shock. Pretty wild.

Cinco Jotas said...

"So what's up with the red beard? I've known various men of Irish/English/Scottish descent who have brown to dirty blonde hair. Yet, each winter, these fellows sprout a bright red beard."

Hey now! You could be describing me.

Light brown hair on my head. Bright red beard.

Anonymous said...

Question: From the articles cited about redheads and pain, it's not clear to me: Are redheads actually more sensitive to pain, or just less sensitive to anesthetic?

Anonymous said...

Re Irish pigmentation, from C.S. Coon's Races of Europe (1939):

Let us now examine the pigment characters … of the Irish, both as a total group and regionally. In the first place, the Irish are almost uniquely pale skinned when unexposed… over 90 per cent had skins of the pale pink shade …Although regional differences are not great, they are suggestive. In the southwestern coastal regions which we have designated as a metrical unit, the darker shades run from 4 per cent to 7 per cent; in the east, in the central plain and the counties near and south of Dublin, they run from 10 per cent to 18 per cent.
The pale Irish skin, where exposed to the sun, shows a marked inclination to freckling. Forty per cent of the entire group are freckled to some extent; in Kerry the ratio rises as high as 60 per cent, in Waterford and Wexford, Carlow and Wicklow - the southeastern counties - it falls to 30 per cent. Thus a difference of two to one in this character serves to differentiate the southwest from the southeast even more clearly than do metrical criteria.
The hair color of the Irish is predominantly brown; black hair accounts for less than 3 per cent of the total, while the ashen series amounts to but one-half of one per cent. Forty per cent have dark brown hair; 35 per cent have medium brown; reddish brown hues total over 5 per cent, while clear reds run higher than 4 per cent. The rest, some 15 per cent, fall into a light brown to golden blond category. Thus the hair color of the Irish is darker than that of most regions of Scandinavia, but not much darker than Iceland; it is notably different from Nordic hair, as exemplified by eastern Norwegians and Swedes, in its almost total lack of ash-blondism. The rufous hair color pigment reaches a world maximum here; not so much in reds as in the prevalance of golden hues in blond and brown shades. The lightest hair is found in the Aran Islands, where the commonest shade is, nevertheless, medium brown; in the southwestern counties there are more goldens and at the same time more dark-browns than in Ireland as a whole, while the Great Plain runs fairest of all. Red hair, with a regional maximum of 8 per cent, is commonest in Ulster, rarest in Waterford and Wexford.
In the proportion of pure light eyes, Ireland competes successfully with the blondest regions of Scandinavia. Over 46 per cent of the total group has pure light eyes, and of these all but 4 per cent are blue. Very light-mixed eyes account for another 30 per cent, while less than one-half of one per cent have pure brown. There is probably no population of equal size in the world which is lighter eyed, and bluer eyed, than the Irish. The almost total absence of gray eyes corresponds to the equal paucity of ash-blond hair. Compared to eastern Norway, Sweden, and Finnic and Baltic groups, the eye color is disproportionately light in comparison to hair color. Regional differences, while not great, are of some importance. The ratio of pure blue eyes falls to 33 per cent in Kerry and Clare, and rises to 50 per cent in other regions - Carlow and Wicklow in the southeast, and Armagh, Monaghan, and eastern Cavan in the North. On the whole, the east is lighter eyed than the west, as it is lighter haired. At the same time the Presbyterians are blonder than the Catholics, who are in turn fairer than the members of the Church of Ireland.

Anonymous said...

Britain cont'd.:

Whereas the British are on the whole lighter haired than the Irish, they are at the same time darker eyed. The difference is not, however, a great one, and in both England and Scotland blue and light-mixed eyes are in the majority.21 Since the pigment division of Great Britain runs north and south, the total eye color classes of both Scotland and England-plus-Wales are nearly identical, and regional variations follow those of hair color.
In only one published British series was a Martin eye color chart used - that of von Luschan's British scientists, a highly selected group of 84 men returning from a scientific congress in Australia.22 Of this group, which included Charles Darwin the younger, 29.8 per cent had pure light eyes; 27.4 per cent light-mixed eyes; 2.4 per cent pure dark eyes; while the remaining 40.4 per cent had medium- or dark-mixed irises. According to most European standards the total of lights would be considered 57 per cent. This small series is as light eyed as some of the Norwegian coastal groups, but not as light as most of Scandinavia, or as Ireland.
In the large, regional studies of British eye color, 62 per cent of English are called light eyed, and 34 per cent dark. On this basis the fishermen of the English North Sea coast have as much as 90 per cent of light eyes, and, at the same time, the Cornish run as low as 55 per cent. Other ratios of 55 per cent to 60 per cent occur in towns and cities scattered throughout England, and seem typical of urban populations. The Cornish, who are the darkest eyed of the English, are still predominantly a light-mixedeyed people, as are the English as a whole. No typically brunet population may be found in England.
Wales, however, is notably darker eyed. Out of Beddoe's series of 3000, 34 per cent are called brown eyed, 15 per cent mixed, and 51 per cent light. Although the light-eyed element is still the more numerous in the principality as a whole, it is possible to distinguish typically dark-eyed districts. Fleure found between 60 per cent and 70 per cent of "dark" eyes in Landyssul, Newquay, and Denbighshire Upland, and Beddoe found the same among the Abergavenny country people, among the townsmen of Brecon, and in Merthyr and Taffvale. These are all isolated regions, and the antiquity of dark eye color in Wales is evident.
In Scotland, 32 per cent of adult males have pure light eyes, 48 per cent are called mixed, and 20 per cent dark. The latter category probably includes a number of dark-mixed iris patterns. Blue eyes are commonest in the north and south of Scotland, and gray eyes appear in numbers in the Shetlands and Orkneys, under Scandinavian inspiration. Mixed eyes are typical of east central Scotland, while brown eyes reach their highest ratio in the Glasgow region, among the industrial population. The area of Gaelic speech, which Tocher found associated with an excess of dark hair, is also notably blue eyed.

Anonymous said...

Re UK pigmentation, more from Coon:

Taking Great Britain as a whole, the hair color of its inhabitants is very similar to that of the Irish, except that the British have more light brown, and the Irish more dark brown, shades. In this comparison, England, including Wales, is nearly identical with Scotland. Both the English and the Scotch have as much red hair as the Irish, while the Welsh have more; both the Scotch and the Irish have somewhat higher increments of black hair than England with Wales; and if Wales is studied separately, England emerges as the lightest haired of the four major divisions of the British Isles, and Wales as the darkest.18
The regional distribution of hair color in Great Britain19 closely follows that of total pigmentation as shown on Map 8. In England, black hair ranges from nearly 0 to 10 per cent, except in Devonshire and Cornwall, where it reaches a maximum of 20 per cent in the region of Penzance. Along the eastern coast it is extremely rare, and the average for the country is probably between 4 per cent and 5 per cent. Dark brown hair accounts for 14 per cent to 43 per cent of the population in the different parts of England. In general, it runs below 30 per cent in the regions of intensive Saxon and Danish occupation - that is, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, and Yorkshire - while it averages above 30 per cent in the west, and has a mean of approximately 40 per cent in Cornwall. Brown hair, a light-to-intermediate hue, ranges from 57 per cent to 24 per cent, and has a distribution precisely opposite to that of dark brown hair, which may be considered intermediate-to-dark. On the whole brown is more prevalent than dark brown, and the blond element is considerably more important than the brunet one among the English. Fair hair, representing golden, ashen, and also light brown hues, varies from 5 per cent to 47 per cent. Well over 25 per cent is typical of the North Sea coast, while in Cornwall it runs from 10 per cent to 15 per cent. Among English blonds, golden hair is far commoner than the ashen variety, but ash-blondism is by no means absent, nor as rare as in Ireland.
In Wales, 10 per cent of the total have black hair, and only 8 per cent are fair in the English sense. Dark brown predominates over medium brown, while red, which averages 5 per cent, runs as high as 9 per cent in small localities. Beddoe finds as much as 86 to 89 per cent of black and dark brown hair in such places as Newquay and Denbighshire Upland. On the whole, Wales, in accordance with its mountainous character and its general preservation of ancient cultural traits, is a region of strong local variability, which manifests itself particularly in pigmentation.
In Scotland, the systematic study of 7000 adult males and of half a million schoolchildren20 makes our knowledge of the regional distribution of hair color relatively complete. Black hair ranges among adults from 0 to 8 per cent by counties, but nowhere attains the figures observed in Cornwall, Devonshire, and Wales. Dark brown hair accounts for 38 per cent of the population; the medium to light brown shade, with 42 per cent, is the most numerous; fair hair runs to 11 per cent, and red to 5 per cent. Tocher finds that jet black hair is commoner in the western highlands than elsewhere, and is statistically correlated with the greatest survival of Gaelic speech…

James Kabala said...

Mark Twain can be mentioned as another famous redhead who lived in the era of black and white photos and furthermore, hit his peak of fame after his hair had already gone white (like Shaw, if the other James is correct - I didn't know he was a redhead).

Is the hair color of either Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn ever mentioned? I think the version of Huckleberry Finn I read as a kid had a cover picture of a redhead, but was that justified by the text?

BamaGirl said...

"It's such a rarity, and so striking, that many people are intrigued. Even in Ireland, the redhead is not as common as believed---it's largely from the Norse Invaders, whereas the brunettes with light skin are the old Celtic line---so that rarity makes it exciting. And in the US, where there are so many races, redheads are even more rare."

Very true. My grandmother is Irish (3 of her 4 grandparents were born there) and she and her sisters all had black hair, pale skin, and hazel/blue eyes. No red-heads in that family at all. She visited County Clare several times too and commented on how everyone could have been related to her looks-wise. The red-headed Irish is more of an exotic myth than anything. Pretty sure Scotland and Northeast England have higher percentages.

BamaGirl said...

"What the fuck is a brunette Irishman?

Whatever it is, it ain't marching in the parade."

I hope you are kidding...

Anonymous said...

The red-headed Irish is more of an exotic myth than anything.


Not a lot of people here have ever been to Ireland, I see. Red-heads are a minority everywhere, but they are relatively common in Ireland. I lived there for over twenty years. They are not the oddity there that they are here in America.

Okinawa Irishman said...

The red hair = Irish meme is definitely unique to America. Anti gingerism is pretty bad in the UK, but by and large it's not connected to ethnicity. Maybe someone should set up an organization..
By the way, check out the lead singer of Epica. I agree though, they tend to look like goddesses or ogres, with very little in between.

Cordelia said...

Anonymous said... Steve, the word "awhile" means "for a while." So when you write "for awhile" you are really saying "for for a while." Same with "after awhile." Please be more attentive.

Merriam-Webster disagrees (kinda/sorta):

awhile
: for a while

usage - Although considered a solecism by many commentators, awhile, like several other adverbs of time and place, is often used as the object of a preposition (for awhile there is a silence — Lord Dunsany).

Svigor said...

And several of my other cousins who are blondes also have the red highlights.

I have ash blond hair but my beard is strawberry blond. I've always thought that's kinda weird.

Svigor said...

So what's up with the red beard? I've known various men of Irish/English/Scottish descent who have brown to dirty blonde hair. Yet, each winter, these fellows sprout a bright red beard.

Lol, yep that's me, except my beard isn't what I'd call "bright" red.

Anonymous said...

I remember at least four red head girls in my class, in grade and high school, and I don't remember any sort of "persecution" such as is described at the English school. Their hair drew attention, a couple were admired. Indeed, in England such prejudice it is truly bizaar,considering the high portion of red-hair. Most people would have had a red-head or two among their relations or friends. Schools are incomprehensible. It's like some of the them just get possessd for a time, and there's not rhyme or reason.

i luv lucy said...

Not only was Queen Elizabeth I a red-head, but so was her father, King Henry (who was a very handsome, 6-footer in his youth.) Henry's first wife, Catherine of Aragon was also a red-head. Henry and Catherine's hair was said to match, strand for strand, a lovely strawberry blond (another word for soft red, as opposed to carroty.)

Truth said...

"My theory is that redheads are like left handed people, they are defective in some way. The red hair is an adaptation to some missing feature."

And you came up with this "scientific thesis" from one girl you dated, eh?

Good job there Galileo.

Good story Kudzu Bob about your beautiful Helen-of-Troy, fight inspiring redhead friend. I especially like the way you not-so subtly insinuated that you had dated this irresistible Minx and even had SEEN THE INSIDE OF HER APARTMENT (!?!?)

I see you workin' playboy.

By the way if you guys like Redheads, you should go to Svigor's hometown, I was there last summer and it seemed as though 1/3 of the white people had red hair. I even asked a concierge about it and she said something about Irish heritage.

BamaGirl said...

"Not a lot of people here have ever been to Ireland, I see. Red-heads are a minority everywhere, but they are relatively common in Ireland. I lived there for over twenty years. They are not the oddity there that they are here in America."

Well in the particular part of Ireland my grandmother and father have been to (West coast, County Clare) they said they were surprised that there were few red-heads,and that most of the locals were dark-haired. (doesn't mean they were nonexistent I'm sure, just fewer than expected). So it could depend on which part you're in, or perhaps the percentage has changed over time.

And btw, red-heads are not uncommon in my part of the states at all. Amongst the white people here, I'd estimate a little less than 10 percent have either reddish, auburn, or strawberry blonde hair. Its only a little less common than natural blonde hair.

Reg Cæsar said...

What the ∫µ©√ is a brunette Irishman?

Whatever it is, it ain't marching in the parade.
--Jack Burton

It won't march in the parade, but it may parade in the march...

I know I'm beating a "deadde horse" with this, but there are brunet Irishmen, and there are Irishwomen (like BamaGirl?) who are brunettes. Then there are those who discuss racial characteristics but can't spell blond and brunet, in English anyway.

"Rachael" Ray's name tells you that her parents never cracked a Bible.

Captain Jack Aubrey said...

"What the fuck is a brunette Irishman? Whatever it is, it ain't marching in the parade."

BamaGirl: A man cannot be a brun-ette.

Anonymous said...

Never mind women going red/blonde, what about curling?

I can remember reading childrens books, this is in the UK, some belonging to my own parents, probably written in the '50s. Little girls are often described as having lovely dark curly hair, pretty black curls etc etc. Seems like it was a desireable trait, something for girls to aspire to. Blonde doesnt seem to figure btw.

These days girls dont aspire to have curly hair. They generally aspire to straight hair. Seems to me there is some sort of racial undertone to this.

When the population was 99.99% white, then dark curly hair = pretty. Not that it isnt. But there werent any black women around to be compared with.

Today, are women unconsciously steering clear of hair styles that might subtley indicate non-white ancestry? Drawing a discrete line of division.

I can remember in the '70s women (and men) trying out very curly afro hair styles, but thats totally died a death now. Back then there were still few blacks around.

Some overlap with what Steve has related - that old Califorians copied hispanic building styles and using Spanish place names. They stopped once actual hispanics arrived.

See also, men becoming scruffy as well dressed comes to mean gay.

BamaGirl said...

"BamaGirl: A man cannot be a brun-ette."

Ah okay, totally glossed over that aspect of the word hah

Okinawan Irishman said...

¨Not alot of people...¨
Actually, I go there quite frequently, and have lived there for extended periods of time.

I was thinking about the Irish=red hair meme, and it hit me- coffee table photo books. Every damn one about Ireland has some freckly redheaded kid next to a stone wall. And this has been going on for decades. And its the same damn kid. He's a millionarie property developer now. Seriously though, there was an image created here in the states, and that image was sought out by American photographers as the iconic image of Ireland.

Steve, are you going to do an all-Ireland post (no pun intended)?
Also, Neandertal=BIFFO (Big Ignorant F***er From Offaly), ie Brian Cowen.

Steve Sailer said...

Jack Burton writes:

"Whatever it is, it ain't marching in the parade."

That's really clever. I doubt if there's a wittier response possible to my solecism than that. Bravo.

BamaGirl said...

"These days girls dont aspire to have curly hair. They generally aspire to straight hair. Seems to me there is some sort of racial undertone to this."

I have noticed the same thing. Most curly-haired girls, and in particular dark-haired ones, straighten their hair. (I don't usually however, too much work)
The implicit assumption that curly/wavy hair = closer to African hair is something black people are aware of too. Black women are typically the only strangers that will compliment my hair. My boyfriend has curlier hair than mine, and thus gets even more compliments about how nice his hair looks from various black women while out we're out and about.

I mean it could just be coincidence, but I assume they find curly hair attractive because its a tad closer to their own natural texture.

Anonymous said...

"James Kabala said...
Robert61: Indeed, at one time there was a strong association between red hair and Jewishness in European culture, usually meant as an insult toward both groups. (Judas was said to have had red hair, for example.) I don't think I've ever met one myself, though."

For example Schlomo Mintz

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOSH4mBxFqs

Anonymous said...

"James Kabala said...
Robert61: Indeed, at one time there was a strong association between red hair and Jewishness in European culture, usually meant as an insult toward both groups. (Judas was said to have had red hair, for example.) I don't think I've ever met one myself, though."

For example Schlomo Mintz

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOSH4mBxFqs

Anonymous said...

Very true. My grandmother is Irish (3 of her 4 grandparents were born there) and she and her sisters all had black hair, pale skin, and hazel/blue eyes.

Have you ever watched a movie called The Secret of Roan Inish?

Talk about black hair...

kudzu bob said...

"Good story Kudzu Bob about your beautiful Helen-of-Troy, fight inspiring redhead friend. I especially like the way you not-so subtly insinuated that you had dated this irresistible Minx and even had SEEN THE INSIDE OF HER APARTMENT (!?!?"

In your haste into post something abysmally stupid before Whiskey does, you missed the part where I wrote, “I once lived down the street from J.” Which is to say, we were neighbors.

Sometimes neighbors invite one another into their homes.

Reading between the lines of your inadvertently self-revealing post, I gather that is not something that happens to you. Hard to believe, really.

Ginger Warrior said...

Has there been much research into characteristics that "stick out"?

As a male redhead, I noticed that lots more people remembered me and my name than I remembered them. If I had an extroverted personality, I could have benefited very much from this recognition.

As an introvert, I probably benefited more than I would have had I been an ordinary-looking aloof fellow.

There is also a "just so story" to tell about whether red hair inherited from a father would make him more likely to recognize a child as his own and thus contribute a slight survival advantage in environments where parentage is doubted.

Could the supposed higher pain threshhold of redheads encourage slightly higher birth rates among redheaded women? This would somewhat "explain" supposed increased libido if childbirth were less painful for them.

Some random thing I read claimed redheads were actually more plentiful among the U.S. population than in the British isles. What is the prevalence of U.S. redheads if you exclude non-European Americans?

SFG said...

No reason you couldn't have both increased sensitivity to pain and decreased sensitivity to anesthesia. It's known in the medical community, I think.

And nobody's brought up the kinky sex thing yet? I guess this is one of the drawbacks of being a Republican ;)

Chuck said...

This is a timely topic as I'm working on a post on my blog comparing redheadedness to being black.

I'm a redhead so I'll submit my own experiences and traits into the sample.

*I'm left handed
*135 ish IQ (high for the world, not for the Steveosphere)
*mood swings and fiery temper with an extremely laid back baseline
*irritable

I don't even put redheaded women in the same category as redheaded men. As other commenters have said, redheaded men suffer more stigma (or are just found less attractive) than redheaded women. I resent redheaded women acting as if they suffer the same prejudice that redheaded men do.

Also, the phrase "red on the head, fire in the bed" is true.

R J Stove said...

If memory serves me, one of Somerset Maugham's short stories is specifically about a red-headed and utterly chaste Scotsman called Neil MacAdam who is simply ripped to shreds (not physically) by a hot-blooded Russian dominatrix somewhere in a more than usually depressing Maughamish jungle. So the redhead / fierce libido stereotype certainly doesn't operate in this case.

With George Bernard Shaw, he had in youth an imposing red goatee as well as red hair. Nobody could call him highly sexed either. He would seem to have been horrified by the notion of going to bed with Ellen Terry or Mrs. Patrick Campbell; and he much preferred to have them as epistolary mistresses.

n/a said...

"Basil Ransom said: "Roissy quotes Cesare Lombroso, who finds that redheads are much more common among women convicted for whorish offenses...."

That book was published in 1893. Might there have been some discrimination against redheads back then that led to a lot of lower-class redheads having to resort to prostitution for a living?
"

Here is the actual quote: "The hair of criminals and prostitutes is darker than that of honest women. According to Tarnowsky, however, more blondes can be found among prostitutes than thieves since fair-haired specimens of the former class are most sought after. Marro, notwithstanding the meagerness of his data, also noted the predominance of blond and red hair among women offenders against chastity, an observation that accords with my own."

Truth said...

"Today, are women unconsciously steering clear of hair styles that might subtley indicate non-white ancestry? Drawing a discrete line of division."

I'm with you, that also explains white women's almost universal aversion to tanning salons nowadays.

"Sometimes neighbors invite one another into their homes."

So you're telling me you didn't score, Bob? Dude, that really ruined my morning, for about 15 second, you were MY IDOL!

Anonymous said...

"Besides the inappropriate use of the term sexual dimorphism (the supposed discrimination is a social construct, not genetic), I would argue that it's not really a big problem. The percentage of women who like red hair is always higher than the percentage of men who have red hair for the studies I've read. Yeah, it's a pain wading through the women who are genuinely repulsed by red hair, but finding a girl that adores it easily makes up for social stigma."

What? The 'social stigma' has nothing to do with girls/women and everything to do with other boys/men. It's not the ladies that say gingers 'smell of fox piss and twiglets' is it?

American Comedian Reginald D. Hunter said of Britons... "Class war is what you have in Britain because you're not very good at racism. I mean, y'all give it a go, but you haven't got the hang of it. Ginger people? That's not a race! But y'all love giving 'em hell".


"The old 'crazy redhead' stories were a branch of English racial slurs against Irish. See Flashman's worry that Elspeth would pop out 'something with red hair and a pug nose'."

The Irish are as 'black as bog', it's the damned porridge wogs who dwell north of the North whose blood runs with the ginger poison...

I should like to point out the gingerism is mostly friendly in nature, very few gingers are actually harmed because of their 'disease'.

tommy said...

I have ash blond hair but my beard is strawberry blond. I've always thought that's kinda weird.

I have medium brown curly hair. My mustache and the portion of my beard surrounding the mouth are blond and slightly wavy. My beard quickly gets darker and more curly as it goes down the chin. It is almost black and very curly everywhere under the chin and approaching the ears.

I'm used to seeing blondies with darker beards, but my beard is some kind of freakish inverse of that pattern.

Mark said...

Steve your website is getting too respectable. This is precisely the kind of post where dweebs get to type the praises of their favorite redheads in popular culture. Since I resemble that remark, I nominate Liz Klamen from Fox Business News.

Truth said...

"I have ash blond hair but my beard is strawberry blond."

"I have medium brown curly hair. My mustache and the portion of my beard surrounding the mouth are blond and slightly wavy. My beard quickly gets darker and more curly as it goes down the chin. It is almost black and very curly everywhere under the chin and approaching the ears."

Gentlemen:

If one would like to find dates, I suggest the local independent newspaper as a superior alternative.

James Kabala said...

That lengthy analysis of Irish and British air and eye color is fascinating, anonymous, although I'm not sure I understand all of Coon's terminology - where exactly is the boundary linen between "pure light eyes" and "mixed light?"

Laban said...

Syrian redheads

I didn't take much notice of redheads as such, but then I married one. The palest, softest (and thinnest - bruises really easily) skin, greenest eyes - I've become a convert. They need to be kept out of the sun for best results.

hippo c said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
hippo c said...

"The old 'crazy redhead' stories were a branch of English racial slurs against Irish."

It's funny how there often tends to be a genetic basis for the racial slurs --

"Researchers believe redheads are more sensitive to pain because of a mutation in a gene that affects hair color. In people with brown, black and blond hair, the gene, for the melanocortin-1 receptor, produces melanin. But a mutation in the MC1R gene results in the production of a substance called pheomelanin that results in red hair and fair skin.

The MC1R gene belongs to a family of receptors that include pain receptors in the brain, and as a result, a mutation in the gene appears to influence the body’s sensitivity to pain. A 2004 study showed that redheads require, on average, about 20 percent more general anesthesia than people with dark hair or blond coloring. And in 2005, researchers found that redheads are more resistant to the effects of local anesthesia, such as the numbing drugs used by dentists."

Svigor said...

where exactly is the boundary linen between "pure light eyes" and "mixed light?"

Maybe he's talking about blue vs. what we now call, for example, blue-green?

Anonymous said...

"where exactly is the boundary linen between "pure light eyes" and "mixed light?""

Pure light means that the iris is only blue or gray and has no brown or greenish spots. Light-mixed means that the iris is predominately blue or gray with some brown, green or amber flecks (usually nearest the pupil). Mixed dark generally means that the iris is predominately green with some brown or amber (usually around the pupil) - what is usually called hazel.

Anonymous said...

Talking of redheads, US readers may not yet have seen the most recent episodes of Dr Who (sat on right in pic). Check out Karen Gillan who plays Amy Pond.

Smokin!

James Kabala said...

Hippo C: Is sensitivity to pain the same as craziness?

Anonymous: Thank you.

David said...

>[M]y future husband (and only boyfriend)[...] was perplexed, and expressed this to my grandmother, that someone so meek and mild could suddenly turn so volatile.<

Many men have the same perplexing experience, regardless of the girl's hair color.

Anonymous said...

The only reason gingers aren't considered a separate race is because there's no nation or geographical region that's inhabited solely by gingers.

Note the gingers in this video.

Tommy said...

First they came for the redheads:
http://vimeo.com/11219730

Anonymous said...

"The lightest hair is found in the Aran Islands, where the commonest shade is, nevertheless, medium brown..."


Indeed:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hcpQC9a-2s

Red hair forms a small but highly visible minority; a lot more of them are probably recessive.

Incidentally, the extreme west of Ireland has some of the palest, whitest people you will ever see. Not surprisingly, it's one of the rainiest, most overcast parts of Europe as well. Watch to the end, and get a good look at the bare leg of the old man on the beach.

Anonymous said...

That MIA video would be banned or called racist if it was any minority instead of redheads.