Rockin' Out With Red Hair


I'm both German and Irish. And I am a Red Head. Red hair is associated with fair skin color, freckles, and sensitivity to sun. People with red hair have to take special precautions with their health. Also, women with red hair have a low pain tolerance. (and I have an obsession with my hair The Many Phases of Hair)



In my childhood, I endured lots of name calling: carrot top, bozo, hair on fire to name a few. Because of the red hair, I am also blessed with extremely sensitive skin. Terrible eczema when I was a child, which promoted more name calling. And yes, I burn to a bloody crisp without sunscreen. Thankfully, I never had to endure the freckles, which most red heads face. I am freckle-less for the most part. That's not to say I haven't started to develop age spots(argh!)!



As for the pain tolerance, my threshold is below zero. Yes, zero pain tolerance. I'm a wimp! I have had 3 C-Sects, the first I had to be sedated because I was screaming at the Dr that she was trying to kill me. I also had a major hernia repaired after my second child (6 months later). I almost lost my mind with the pain that I was in.



There is only an estimated 2-5 percent of the USA population born with red hair. Red hair appears in people with two copies of a recessive gene {on chromosome 16 which causes a change in theMC1R (melanocortin-1 receptor) protein}. And you need two copies of a certain version of that gene to end up with red hair. My mother and my father's mother are my two versions.


Red hair varies from a deep orange red to a burnt orange to bright copper. I would say that my hair color is sort of a light copper, well it was, now thanks to my lovely colorist, it is once again that beautiful color(or a shade darker)! (I have been greying since early 20's)


Cultural reactions have varied from ridicule to admiration; many common stereotypes exist regarding redheads, and they are often portrayed as the “fiery-tempered redhead”. The rumored explosive anger is a reality. As I child I had a hard time learning to control my anger (isn't being a child hard enough). I have definitely mellowed over the years!!! Although I still have a quick temper.


The pros to having red hair outweigh the cons. Sure, I have to buy sunscreen by the gallon, but I never get lost in a crowd! I wish the same could be said for my children. I have three beautiful light-brown haired children. Not a single redhead! I was waiting and waiting and waiting. I was sure as baby number three came, that I would finally get a redhead. I'm sad to not be able to share my red hair with my children, but they are as adorable as ever, even if they have light brown hair!
I have a red version of the MC1R gene and hubbie has a non-red version of the MC1R gene and we do not have red haired babies. But I carry the recessive red hair version and have passed this down to my children.



I have an on-going debate with my MIL about MY red hair. She makes the comment to me upon our first meeting 10 years ago that I am not a true redhead. (wth? I think, but this was my first meeting with the mom, so I wanted to impress and kept my quick little temper in check) Over the years, she has again made the comment to me and I have always let it slide. At Christmas this past year, she again stated to me, "Well, you are not a true red head" I respond, "Believe me, I was born with red hair, I am a red head!" This is the first time in 10 years that I have opposed her comments about the color of MY hair. So she goes on, "well, you don't really have red hair, you are more strawberry blond, my brother had red hair as a child, he was auburn, that's a true red head". I was beginning to get a bit steamed, but for the sack of my sanity, I kept said "fiery-temper" under control.



A) I have seen pictures of the brother, he is more blond that blond can be and not a red, orange, strawberry-blond or auburn hair is found on that head of his!
B) I DO NOT have strawberry-blond hair - I did highlight my hair about 10 years ago, but not my entire head-thus highlights.


My next response is said in utter amazement, "MIL, I am a red head, I have red hair, yes, I do color the gray hair on my head, but I was born a red head and will die a red head", but dripping in pleasantries! Her response back to me, "See, you dye your hair red, you are not a true red head".


I gave up at that point, there is no arguing with the MIL. But I am still upset by these comments as she is the absolute first person in my 40 years of life to tell me I'm not a redhead!


Now, please tell me where the second recessive gene is on my husband's side? Because I think I would have a red head child or even 3 redhead children, if there WAS IN FACT a recessive gene on the MIL side as she said. (on a side note, my husband's brother married a freckle-faced orange redhead, and they don't have red haired children either!!)


So there you have it. Recessive traits like red hair can skip generations because they can hide out in a carrier behind a dominant trait. The recessive trait needs another carrier and a bit of luck to be seen. This means that it can sometimes take a few generations to finally make its presence known.
Hopefully I will have a red headed grandbaby or if my hubbie ever changes his mind, perhaps a fourth baby will rock out with me!