Being a ginger: is it worth it?

Redhead, ginger, carrot, or ranga, whatever you want to call them but the mystery behind red hair had been solved. In 1997, scientists discovered gene, called MC1R, on chromosome 16 which responsible for pigmentation in human body. Mutation in MC1R lead to the production of pheomelanin, the pigment that will give raise to red hair. Whereas those with darker hair have the dark pigment, eumelanin.

As a recessive mutation, mutation on MC1R gene must appear on both alleles for someone to born with red hair. This also mean being a red hair is such a rare occurrence. With only 2% of the total human population possess this distinctive lock, that means you are only 1 in 100 if you are born with a natural red hair.

Consequences of born with a red hair

Pheomelanin not only affect someone’s hair colour but also other organs, like the skin and eye. Individuals with pheomelanin have much lighter skin and eye colour as well. They will have pale skin. Their eyes are often light blue in colour. Freckles will decorate their skin. And often they will have a hard time getting a tan on a beach day. Researchers at Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and University of Leeds shown that individuals with MC1R have higher chance to develop skin cancer than the individuals with darker skin colour.

Born with a redhead? Feel shy? Don’t be you should proud. Image Credit: Elisabetta Roncoroni via Flickr.

Hair colour is thought to have an influence on your upbringing. Redheads are considered to have a fiery temper. They also thought to be feisty and brave. But at the same time, because they are different from the rest of the society, they often got bullied during school year and end up with a low self-esteem.

Natural red hair retains their hair colour stronger than those with dyed red hair or individuals with dark hair. There is also a slight difference during aging process where their hair will turn white instead of grey. Red hair also has low tolerance to pain, so they need more anaesthetics during surgery.

Superiority of the redheads

Being bullied does not stop some red head to make a history. Some famous person was born with natural red hair. The Father of Evolution, Charles Darwin, is a natural redhead. Galileo and Socrates are also known as a redhead.

Most of the natural redheads are in Ireland and Scotland, with redheads making up 10% and 13% of their population respectively. Scotland and Ireland do not have much exposure to sunlight due to their geographical location. Having a redhead and lighter skin help with the production of vitamin D and help them retain heat longer.

It is also believed that redheads possess higher tolerance to pain. But despite those we might also have to thank JK Rowling to make ginger cool again. Not only that she is a ginger, she also created the entire Weasley family. And guess what? The Weasleys are famous for their striking red mane. There is also celebrated musician like Ed Sheeran. So, do not let your red hair weight you down. It is time for the gingers to unite and end the stigma, don’t you think so?


2 Responses to “Being a ginger: is it worth it?”

  1. Hello Kimberley, unfortunately I don’t know any about that. But I do know that some animal change their fur colour between season? And my boyfriend’s hair is becoming less ginger as he grows older.

  2. Kimberley Reid says:

    As a red head, I enjoyed your post. It was easy to read and I didn’t know about all those other consequences!

    I find my hair is more ginger in summer and a sort of browny-ginger in winter. Do you know if there is any scientific basis behind that observation?