life in the red lane

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While perusing the depths of the internet a few weeks ago, I found an article titled “13 Things You Should Know Before Dating a Redhead.” I was distracting myself from writing last month’s post enumerating upon my father’s death, because, emotions, yuck. Tackling this seemed like a better option.  As a natural redhead, I always love reading articles that continue to perpetuate the many stereotypes that we gingers encounter all our lives. Let me school you on what life is like as a redhead. First the science stuff:

1. Redheads make up only 2% of the general population. If you put 100 people in a room together, only 2 of them will have natural red hair….and neither one of them will have a tan.

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2. Because red hair holds its pigment more than any other hair color, it is the hardest to dye. This I can agree with. I have spent the majority of my adult life trying to get Jennifer Aniston’s hair. I’ve spent hundreds of hours in the salon chair and my bathroom meticulously applying the perfect combination of blonde and brown, only to weeks later, see it blend into a strawberry blonde shade. More recently, I’ve attempted unsuccessfully to become light blonde. My conclusion is that there is no amount of bleach that will make my hair platinum and not brassy gold.

3. Because redheads have thicker hair than people with other hair colors, they have fewer strands of hair. For example, while blondes have on average of 140,000 hairs, redheads have approximately 90,000. I don’t know how much faith I put in this statistic, as I’m pretty sure I lose a few hundred hairs a day to the hairbrush and shower, but I still have so much hair that it takes upwards of 20 minutes to fully dry it.

4. Red hair doesn’t gray as much as other hair colors. Red hair initially tends to turn blond and then white. Hmmm. I’m not sure I trust this one either. If my hair is left to its own devices for longer than a month, bits of tinsel seem to sprout from my scalp.

5. Research shows that redheads require about 20 percent more anesthesia than blondes or brunettes, possibly because they’re more resistant to pain medications like Novocain. They are also more sensitive to thermal pain, i.e. heat and cold. So, CHRIS, when I tell you that I am sweltering, and you think I’m being melodramatic, I’m not.  I’m just the redhead you want me to be.

6. It has been proven that red headed females have more sex than their blonde and brunette counterparts. According to research conducted by the Hamburg Research Institute in Germany that looked at the sexual activity of hundreds of women, redheads were having more sex than any other hair color group. Clearly, in any equation that looks at averages, there’s got to be a low end, right? Sorry, Chris.

7. The rarest combination in the world is that of red hair and blue eyes. I wore a pair of blue contacts during the 90’s, but otherwise my eye color is pretty non-descript. So, Mom, I’m not as unique as you would like to have me believe.

8. The gene that causes red hair is a recessive gene and is caused by the MC1R gene, a genetic mutation. If you’ve ever seen Jennifer Lawrence in X-Men……well, it’s nothing like that.

9. Because red hair is a recessive trait, and recessive traits normally come in pairs, most redheads are left-handed…..or have other weird quirks. Hi, my name’s Kelly, and please don’t spray perfume on me because I will break out into hives and get sick….also, I can’t get my ears pierced because I’m allergic to all of the earrings.

Frankly, there are more myths than there are realities about redheads. And I’ve been asked and heard pretty much all of them.

1. Redheads have “fiery” tempers. Most people see my ginger state and assume that I’m quick to anger, when the opposite is true. It takes a lot to get me angry, but let’s be honest; if I did get angry all of the time, it’s probably just because of the horrible ridicule I suffered as a child because of my hair. Seriously, 2nd graders, carrot top is not a compliment. Neither is Strawberry Shortcake, even if her hair did smell delicious.  And let’s not even mention the poor timing of the release of the movie “Annie.”

2. All redheads are Irish. While Ireland does have a high concentration of redheads at 10% of its population, redheads make up 13% of the population of Scotland. In sheer number, the United States has the most redheads, even though we only make up 2% of its population. It doesn’t help that my mother thought Kelly would be a good name for her youngest redheaded daughter. By the way, I’m mostly Norwegian, even if I do like to drink like an Irish person on St. Patrick’s Day.

3. Redheaded men are unattractive. I would say that this was a myth that I believed for a very long time, until I gave birth to my own little redheaded boy 8 years ago. I’m not even saying this just because I’m his mother, but he is completely adorable. And truth be told, Prince Harry has become way hotter than his older brother.


4. Redheads don’t tan. Well, this one may be true. I have several bottles of SPF 45+ on hand at all times. I’ve gotten burnt from fluorescent lighting. The only hope that I have to having a “natural” tan is that all of my freckles will combine. I have seen redheads with natural tans, although I am always scared to look directly at them because of their rarity.

5. Gingers have no souls. Preposterous. We steal them from other people.

6. Ancient Greeks believed that when redheads died, they became vampires. Maybe it was the pale skin or the soul-stealing, but we don’t become vampires once we die. I watched “Twilight”, none of them were even gingers.

7. Redheads are going to become extinct. In 2007, hair dye producers Procter & Gamble sponsored a study that stated redheads would eventually die out. The National Geographic rebuked the statement, saying that although our numbers may lessen in the upcoming years, we will never be gone completely. Again, the gene that causes red hair is recessive, which means that it can take generations for it to appear.

8. Redheads are conceived during the woman’s menstruation. Oh my gosh, why is this a thing? Gross. And NO, this is not true.

9. And then there’s the one… know the one….the crass one. I’m not discussing this in the realm of being a myth, but rather, in the realm of people thinking it is okay to ask a redhead this question. Would these same people ever think to ask a blonde about how she decorates her house?

10. We have secret meetings. The origin of this is more than likely due to the numerous festivals held annually in many countries where redheads converge upon one area. The Netherlands has a whole weekend dedicated to my ginger brother and sisters. But secret meetings? Why, what you have heard?

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