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Original photo by Madison Nardi

What it is to Be A Redhead

In all my years as a ginger, I’ve heard some amazingly offensive, ridiculous comments and questions about redheads. And, while that really is no shocker, no girl deserves to hear something along the lines of “yeah… but she’s a redhead,” if you can read the subtext there.

All hair colors are gorgeous but you can’t deny that redheads stand out a bit… a lot.

For one thing, we’re kind of rare. Redheads make up between 1-2% of the population. But, fun fact for you, redheads are actually over-represented in television. Studies have shown that redheads are favorites for television and that during prime television viewing times, around 30% of shown commercials will have at least one redhead, usually a woman. Redheaded women are twice as likely to be in a commercial than redheaded men.

Red hair itself is caused by a genetic mutation that causes the body to produce more of the lighter pigments and less of the darker pigments. This produces red pigmentation in hair and causes the common attributes that accompany the red hair: light pale skin and lighter colored eyes (i.e. generally green or blue). That same mutation also comes with a lot of advantages and disadvantages. For one thing, it changes the way people with red hair respond to pain. Redheads are more sensitive to certain kinds of pain, such as thermal pain. But, pain aside, it also causes redheads to be much more sensitive to changes in temperature, so if a redhead is suddenly hot and/or cold all the time, it’s not just in their head. 

Despite the increased sensitivity to certain kinds of pain, many of us gingers also have a much higher pain tolerance in general, more so than the average person. We redheads are also more resistant to anesthetics so we need more than the average person when going under general anesthesia. To top it all off, our bodies also respond better to opiates than the average person.

This one was news to me but, if you have red hair, your body has a scent that is different than other people because the same mutation that causes all those other strange attributes also causes the mantle of your skin, a thin layer of film just on the surface of the skin, to be more acidic than it is on the non-redheaded general population. That means that when a redhead sprays perfume, it smells different on them than it does on someone with any other hair color. The scent also won’t last as long on a redhead.

If that’s not enough mutation for you, gingers can also produce their own vitamin D. This superpower is also due in part to evolution because the majority of the world's redheaded population was (and somewhat still is) grouped in cloudier, wet regions, such as the United Kingdom. But! It means redheads don’t need to spend nearly as much time in the sun as everyone else, which is really actually a good thing because our skin could not handle that. We really just don’t tan. Ever. Our inability to tan, aside from causing us to transform into juicy, ripe tomatoes, also makes us more susceptible to things like skin cancers, particularly melanomas. But doctors are working on a pharmacological solution to that one.

If you’re ever in a fight, you probably want a ginger by your side, and it isn’t because of our fiery tempers, though that really couldn’t hurt either. Gingers produce more adrenaline than most people and our bodies can access it more readily than others. Essentially, this means we react better in ‘fight or flight’ scenarios and are more prepared to fight back. So maybe that’s why people think we’re so feisty. But maybe rethink that fiery temper comment next time talk to a redhead, because if you’ve ever asked them if the "curtains match the drapes" and they didn’t try to kill you, they’re being nice. Really, really nice.

Now that you have an unnecessary amount of information surrounding the soulless population of the world, try really hard not to make them feel like a pariah or DUFF simply because of their hair color. We aren’t actually related to satan. Or maybe that’s just what we want you to think...

Sources: https://www.thelist.com/129859/the-truth-about-redheads/

Madison Nardi

Virginia Tech '23

My name is Madison Nardi and I am a junior at Virginia Tech. I grew up all around the world and have become invested in global affairs. The empowerment and voices of women and those not not spoken for is something I find very personal and important to today's developing society. I hope to be able to able to empower and encourage others through writing while I'm a member of Her Campus.
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