know any cool redheads?

February 8, 2011 § 12 Comments

Let me take you back to biology class. You may remember drawing up genetic crosses, to illustrate how hair colour, or eye colour, is determined from the possible combination of characteristics from both parents. The MC1R recessive variant gene determines red hair and fair skin, and it needs to be present in both parents in order for the child to have a chance of being a redhead.

I am a redhead, and I think I still am, somewhere buried deep beneath the layers of bleach. So is my mother, my sister, and pretty much every relative on the Welsh side of the family. My partner on the other hand has brown hair and to my knowledge there’s no red hair in his family. My first son has blonde hair and dark brown eyes. So imagine my surprise when my second son’s hair remained red even after his first hairwash.

newborn, red, gorgeous

Apparently the redheaded gene can be carried for generations. In Scotland it is estimated that some 40% of the population carry this recessive gene! This Wikipedia page gives lots of information about red hair. Supposedly ‘redheads constitute approximately 4 per cent of the European population. In the United States, it is estimated that 2-6% of the population has red hair’ meaning that the US has the largest population of redheads in the world – between 6 to 18 million lucky beings.

You may gather from the fact that I have been dying my hair for years that I am not actually a fan of my natural coloring. This has been true in the past, particularly as I used to be unkindly compared to the British soap character Bianca Jackson in Eastenders throughout my latter teenage years. The lot of the British ‘ginger’ in the classroom is a tough one, yet I do see signs of hope on the horizon, with strong red-haired personalities and characters appearing with increasing frequency throughout popular culture.

For my son’s sake I’m starting to compile a mental list of ‘cool redheads’ to introduce him to, in case he ever lacks confidence in his utter gorgeousness. I’ve even booked myself in to the hairdresser to dye my hair red again, for the first time since an ill-advised dalliance with a henna sachet ten years or so ago. I am hoping this won’t lead to complete strangers hollering ‘Bianca!’ at me in the supermarket. If you have any more suggestions for my list, do let me know.

Damian Lewis
Lily Cole
Julianne Moore
Christina Hendricks
Robert Redford
Malcolm McLaren
Florence Welch
Axl Rose

Article first published as RedHeads Are the Future on Technorati.

New contenders:
Josh Homme
Thom Yorke
Kevin Connolly
Karen Gillan
Catherine Tate

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