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The stereotypical redhead – what does it really mean?

The stereotypical redhead – what does it really mean?

Have you ever wondered if you fit the part of being that ‘typical redhead’?

If you’re a natural redhead, you’ve most definitely heard some sort of stereotype about yourself. In fact, I would put money on it. 

But, although stereotypes are loosely based on ancient myths and outdated societal beliefs, some stereotypical traits attached to being a redhead have been linked to studies on our genetics. But still, that doesn’t make it true.

All redheads are short-tempered.

Naturally, people have concluded that our hot head of red hair reflects our temper, but does it?

Most redheads would have heard the words ‘fiery’ or ‘feisty’ being used in a conversation about themselves. This stereotype creates the illusion that redheads are short-tempered and confrontational beings. But…I don’t see every redhead being quick to jump into a fight or argument – do you?

Although this theory has not been proven by any means, this stereotype has been linked to the higher adrenaline levels carried by those with ginger hair. The MC1R gene is associated with higher adrenaline levels, that are meant to intensify that ‘fight or flight’ reaction. 

Add in to this that the colour red is linked to anger and this yet further reinforces the idea that all redheads have a short fuse.

All redheads are either Scottish or Irish.

This one needs no clarification, other than it is not true. The red hair gene can be traced all the way to central Asia! A mutation in the MC1R gene generates pale skin, freckles, and red hair. People from all races and ethnicities are born with red hair, although it is more common in northern Europe. 

Redheads are rare, unique beings.

I know we shouldn’t brag about it too much but being less than 2% of the population is pretty cool. I like this one.

Redheads feel pain more.

The belief that redheads feel more pain is based on the fact that redheads may need up to 20% more anaesthesia to be sedated than other people. It’s a mixed bag as to whether this has been proven as fact, and many a redhead has their beliefs and experiences to draw upon.

Read more: Redheads and anaesthesia: fact or myth?

Gingers don’t have souls.

The term ‘soul’ refers to the spiritual and immortal energy of a living creature (yes, animals too). The idea is that energy cannot disappear, and that your ‘energy’ is your ‘soul’. After death, your soul is believed to live on. 

Apparently, this legend stems from the Vikings – thanks a lot guys. It is believed that most people in the Viking Age had red hair, and if you were a non-believer, or believed in more than one God, you were a pagan. Pagans were referred to as people without a soul. These Vikings, who had ginger hair, were non-believers, and there you have it: gingers have no souls. 

Years later, this stereotype was picked up and reinforced by South Park‘s ‘Ginger Kids’. In this episode, Eric Cartman rallies a large group of redheads after being led to believe he has contracted, erm, ‘gingervitus’

Of course, this is all in the name of comedy, but ever since the episode first aired in 2005, people have felt the need to remind redheads everywhere that they are soulless beings! 

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All redheads are all covered in freckles.

Because many of us have fair skin, this stereotype is based on our heightened exposure to the sun. Freckles are an overproduction of melanin, and the production of melanin is sped up by UV rays. So, although this stereotype can be linked to scientific evidence, freckles are extremely common, no matter what hair colour you have! 

Additionally, there are redheads out there who don’t really get freckles at all. Freckles are mostly controlled by the MC1R ‘ginger gene’ (melanocortin 1 receptor) that (almost all) redheads have, and a significant number of non-gingers have, too. Of course, there are rare exceptions – some redheads don’t have pale and freckly skin, which means that other genes are at play.

Hint: if you were wondering if someone has MC1R, freckles is a fairly clear indicator that someone is MC1R-rated.

Read more: Freckles: What Are They, Who Gets Them, And Why Do They Appear?

Redheads are better in bed:

If this is the narrative that people are sharing, then let it run! After all, it’s clear that the most common stereotypes attached to us are not as complimentary as we deserve. 

However, this stereotype does highly feed into ‘the redhead fetish’, which is highly sexualised. And, fun fact: this is called rutiluphilia. So perhaps this stereotype isn’t the best one to encourage. We can’t win…can we?!

Read more: What Does ‘Rutiluphilia’ Mean?

Which redhead stereotypes have you heard of?

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