Rumour has it that women tend to favour men of the tall, dark and handsome variety.
I, on the other hand, have a thing for redheads. Yes, that’s right, I’m not afraid to admit I would take freckle-faced Ron Weasley over Harry Potter any day of the week. In fact, I’ve been in a relationship with a ginger-haired man for more than three years — before you cringe, think Prince Harry not Carrot Top.
Redheads elicit passionate reactions, they are both demonized and fetishized by the plain-haired majority. Whether strawberry blond, burnt orange or deep burgundy, it seems people have a pretty definite opinion when it comes to redheads.
Throughout history, redheads have been persecuted and stereotyped as angry, untrustworthy and occasionally satanic. Mythology links red hair to witchcraft and vampires, while Biblical villains Judas Iscariot, Eve (as in Adam and …) and Mary Magdalene are frequently depicted as redheads.
Today, natural redheads account for less than four per cent of the world’s population and less than two per cent in North America, and there are plenty of stereotypes surrounding this genetic minority. Red-haired adults are assumed to be hot tempered, promiscuous and unpredictable (here’s looking at you, Lindsay Lohan) while young gingers are stigmatized as mischievous devil children, ostracized and mercilessly taunted for their pallor and fiery hair.
Yes, growing up ginger certainly isn’t easy. In 2008, the RCMP launched an investigation after a 14-year-old boy started a “Kick a Ginger” Facebook group encouraging kids to terrorize crimson-haired classmates. The group, which nearly 5,000 people joined, was allegedly inspired by the now infamous “Ginger Kids” episode of South Park in which a character describes redheads as “disgusting, inhuman, soulless and inherently dumb.”
Not only the victims of emotional and physical abuse, redheads also have a number of physiological shortcomings. Unique pigmentation makes their skin more susceptible to sunburn, wrinkles and skin cancer, while a heightened sensitivity to pain means redheads require an average 20 per cent more anesthesia when undergoing surgery. Even bees prefer to sting copper-topped picnickers over blonds and brunettes.
Given all of these genetic disadvantages it’s perhaps unsurprising that rumours of redhead endangerment have started circulating. Redhead survivalists panicked after a not-so-scientific study warned that redheads might face extinction as early as 2060. In reality, while occurrences of red hair may be on the decline, there is no real evidence to suggest that our ginger friends will die out any time soon.
There is perhaps no hair colour more polarizing than red, but as far as I’m concerned the only problem with redheads is there aren’t enough of them.