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Some genetic background is necessary!

The geographical distribution of hair color tends to follow that of skin color. People who have adapted to survival in strong sunlight, by acquiring heavier quantities of the pigment melanin in their skins as protection against excessive ultraviolet radiation, have both darker skins and blacker hair. Inhabitants of temperate lands have lighter skin tones and hair shading from brown to blond. Red hair, like the fair skin that goes with it, is dependent upon a deficiency of melanin (which in the skin is unevenly distributed into islands of freckles). "A natural redhead, owing the beauty of her hair and of her fair skins and freckles to a red hair-color gene coupled with a deficiency of melanin. The lack of melanin means that her hair is so lightly pigmented that the red coloring can dominate; it also means that her skins is only lightly colored except in the spots, or freckles, where the pigment has become concentrated. " Red hair is the product of a supplementary gene that produces a diffuse red pigment. If the red-hair gene is present with a very active gene for melanin, then the red gene will be completely obscured. Some people believe that a hidden red gene can show its presence by giving a special richness to black hair. Where the melanin gene is weaker, the red-hair gene shows up in reddish-brown or chestnut shades; and if the melanin gene is very weak, or absent, then true red hair will be produced. "Theoretically the red gene should dominate a blond gene that has laid only diluted deposits of melanin. But there are cases where blond parents produce a red-haired child, showing that one or both carried a submerged red gene. But with rare exceptions, the blond gene is definitely recessive to all darker hair shades. So the general conclusion is: If you have dark hair you are carrying either two dark-hair genes, or one dark and one for another shade. If you have blond hair, you carry two blond genes. If you have red hair, you carry either one or two red genes, supplementing blond or brown genes.

Why Are We So Loved and Hated

"Just as fashions in length and style of hair change in different places and different periods, so do fashions in color. Red hair in particular has blazed an erratic trail. It has held its popularity in Italy and Greece right to this day. In England under Queen Elizabeth I, sandy-red hair became fashionable for a time, because the queen herself was red-haired when young. Nell Gwynne, the mistress of Charles II, was also a redhead. But at times in England, France, Germany, Spain, and America, red hair has been unpopular and distrusted. At the height of Europe's witch hunts, in the 16th and 17th centuries, many women suffered the shame and pain of being stripped, shaved, and "pricked" by a witch-hunter, endured torture, and were put to death, simply because they were redheads — and, preferably, young and attractive. The fear of red hair may have stemmed from the belief that Judas, who betrayed Christ, was red-haired. The 17th-century French scholar Jean-Baptist Thiers in his Histoire des Perruques gives this prejudice as one reason for wearing a wig: "Redheads should wear wigs to hide the color of their hair, of which everybody stands in horror because Judas, it is said, was red-haired." Since Red hair has been associated with the devil, and with Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus, redheads have for centuries had the reputation of being deceitful — and sometimes of being hot-tempered as well. In Germany, barbers advertised all sorts of concoctions for altering the red shade of hair, and in American a newspaper was once driven to explain that 21 men in Cincinnati, who had married red-haired women, were color-blind and had mistaken red for black. But the prejudice extends beyond Christian cultures — at one time Brahmins were forbidden to marry red-haired women, so Judas cannot bear all the blame. More probably the comparative rarity of red hair has made it suspect because it is unusual. All Redhead Info from Hair Sex Society Symbolism, by Wendy Cooper

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