Once in his life, every man is entitled to fall madly in love with a gorgeous redhead.
It is a common misconception that natural redheads are more common at the western fringes of the European continent. Red haired people are particularly thought of as people from the United Kingdom, especially Ireland. In general, natural red hair colour only constitute a marginal 4% of Europe’s population with Scotland having the highest percentage proportion of redheads in the world at 13% red head population. The Republic of Ireland has 10% of its population being redheads and spotting hairs ranging from deep red, through auburn to blonde. It is believed that in these countries, a great percentage of their population have the recessive red head gene, with Scotland having a 40% proportion and Ireland 46%. In Wales, the natural red hair population averages at 10%.
The fact is that Europe tallies very low in the number of redheads. Natural red hair colour is also found among the Ashkenazi Jews with a greater frequency. It is the United States however, that could actually have the highest redhead population, if statistics hold. With an approximated proportion of 2-6% of Americans having red hair, the U.S. could well be the single largest nation in terms of red head population in the globe. This number tallies to about six to eighteen million Americans being red haired as compared to 650,000 in Scotland and a mere 420,000 in Ireland.
Redheads are simply people with natural red hair. But what causes one to have a red hair colour? It is the pigment called pheomelanin that gives red hair its impeccably distinctive colour. Generally, red hair has more pheomelanin than any other hair colour. To complement this, red hair colour has a minimal amount of the dark hair pigment, eumelanin, if any. Red hair colour is usually associated with a fair skin as a consequent to low eumelanin concentrations. The advantageous side of having a low of eumelanin is that the red head can produce vital levels of Vitamin D even in low light conditions. Such a pale skin is a plus in the far north attitudes where the sunlight is scarce, and given that a pale skin also helps preserve body heat. On the disadvantageous side, UV-radiation when exposed to skin with low melanin concentrations can become a medical problem, such as a high probable rate of skin cancer.
Being the single rarest of the natural hair colors in the world, some people see it as desirable and go to any extent to acquire partnerships with red heads. This why it caused quite a spur when a 2007 research study of the National Geographic magazine reported that red hair will die out soon. But experts argued that the red hair colour gene is recessive and relatively rare that is unlikely to die out any time soon.
This love story is however plagued by a traumatic history. Beliefs about natural redheads have differed across the centuries with different communities in variant times and cultural practices prizing them highly, others fearing them, others ridiculing them, others punishing them and still others killing them. One is reminded of the ancient Egyptian culture where redheads were sacrificed to the gods of bumper harvests by being burnt alive. The troubled history of redheads has seen them burned as witches in Asia too. Even in modern times, redheads are plagued by many fallacies and beliefs. It is for instance a prominent belief that redheads have fiery tempers and extremely sharp tongues. In the book, Anne of Green Gables, one character speaks about a redhead woman and says, “She has a temper that matches her red hair”. There is no evidence to correlate high tempers with red hair however and no basis for the belief.
Over the years, people with natural hair colors have also begun dying their hair red, using henna and other synthetic substances, to acquire this prestigious connotation of the redheads.
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