12 April 2008

Colour Me Red

Jasia’s Carnival of Genealogy (http://creativegene.blogspot.com) provides me, at last, with a legitimate opportunity to write about one of my obscure interests. The theme is identifying hereditary family traits. My choice is RED HAIR. Yes ... a subject worthy of more scholarly attention, although I am not the first to raise the flag. On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being of utmost importance in global interest, the topic might rank as -5, possibly as high as a 1 for Celtic people. To be sure, and with all due respect, discussing red hair is potentially more
(ID protected! ^^^^^^^^)
appealing than some wretched family traits like Six Toes or Sleep Apnea.

Born a redhead is a very special thing. People comment on your red hair when you’re little. Strawberry blonde or ginger are some of the nicer comments. When you’re older, they think you dyed it. Listen up, folks. No chemical mixture has ever simulated the real thing. Truly red hair. Brown-haired people with reddish glints in the sunlight don’t count. Red hair starts to forge character right from birth and conscientious parents of redheads need to prepare. Minimally, reading Maggie Muggins or Anne of Green Gables would help (my sell-by date is showing).

Red hair is a mark of distinction not for the faint of heart. Believe you me, red hair can be an endurance test from the word go. You stick out like a sore thumb at school and will inevitably be nicknamed Red (or much worse these days), even if you like your real name. On the other hand, teachers and assorted persons of authority seem to notice “the redhead” in case you wanted to be noticed but it’s usually to get blamed for something you didn’t do. One young redhead I knew struggled to apply black shoe polish in a failed attempt to disguise himself. I remember when I was 17 and my new friend from Germany confided that Europeans considered all people
with red hair to be congenital dimwits. What is their problem, anyway? Losers! I’d say no other vizmin in history has survived centuries of such superstition and slagging from the resentfully less-endowed.

My Dad was born a redhead in a family of three redheads. He was known as “fiery Red Dougall” among his RFC comrades in the First World War. I am told the hair comes from our Campbell line (um, see below Who’s For Dinner 12 Feb 2008; reminds me Bella had some positive attributes). Therefore the gene skips around like a dizzy kelpie from one generation to the next, or the next. It might be called genetic drift or autosomal inheritance but clearly involves interference from culpatory invading genes. Dad in turn produced a family of three redheads. After that, the red hair gene went to sleep. It shows up again in two out of six grandchildren—proper, unmistakable, sensational red hair.

Little ones may seek comfort and inspiration from many role models like today’s Prince Harry. For my part, it was no coincidence that The Red Shoes movie starred a red-haired ballerina, my own adolescent heroine ... saw that movie 14 times and still counting.

Red hair is a flaming mark that—alas—may not last a lifetime. Consumed by its own brilliance, one might say. One day a disrespectful friend bellowed to get my attention: “Hey, blondie!” (surely that wasn’t me he called). But time has a way of eclipsing great things. That is why red hair is special. It’s a lottery if and when it will turn up or how long it will last. Parents, if you like what you have wrought, you see what you are up against. Know your genetic genealogy. Cross-examine anyone whom your redheads plan to marry. Better still, send the kids to www.redhedd.com to perpetuate the species. Long live small kiddies with red mops.


Janice said...

Red hair is much maligned, and yet is so lovely. Thank you for the wonderful tribute to red haired people everywhere.

A brunette who'd love to be a red-head.

Professor Dru said...


I love this piece on red heads. I collect dolls and have a fascination with red headed ones.


Unknown said...


Fellow red head here, Born red head and will be till about 50 at which ponit I will turn white as snow. I know that because I am from a large list of red heads. my mother (a caper too) was a red head and so were here 5 bothers and one sister. She had 3 kids with red hair and now 2 grandchildern of 4 are red heads. there is my creditcals on the topic but I thought you may find these few hair facts interesting regarding this topis of hair and geneology.

1) the hair gene typically runs on the mothers side of the family but there are rare cases that it comes from the father side if they have stronger genes, typically hair gene strength order being: African, east asian, red head, west asian, brown then blonde

2) Red hair is actually cause by the mixing of ethnicity (according to my uncle research). This is why red hair is most common with scotts and irish desendents. In history they ae the countries that where common pilaged and raped by foreign invaders: English, French Dutch and so on