Monday, November 12, 2007

Don't Fake It!

I discovered this wonderful article by Lisa Falkenberg of the Houston Chronicle.

I have right to see red

By LISA FALKENBERG
Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle

The very sight of the dyed-haired redhead can still fire me up.

It's not that I don't acknowledge other people's pigment prerogatives.

I just think people shouldn't get to enjoy the spoils of red hair without first surviving the stigma: the adolescent name-calling, the stereotypes of being hot-tempered or devilish, the painful sunburns. There are stresses associated with these flaming tresses that the bottle-brewed variety can't possibly appreciate. It ain't easy being red. You have to earn it.

Full article here.

It's a very amusing article mentioning something I'd never considered before - the people who 'fake it' by dying their hair red.

Although ginger is a source of ridicule in the UK, French women love to dye their hair red. In fact, the flame-haired temptress is an international symbol of sexiness all over the world (except in stupid old England.)

Think of all those redheaded femme fatales in the Private Detective novels, or gorgeous redheads Dana Scully or Willow Rosenburg from X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

It's only the ignorant English who seem to have a problem with redheads. Even Lisa Falkenberg discovered that. I was rather ashamed of my countrymen when I read:

"Oi, Ginger!" I got a taste of this from some of the Brits I encountered while studying in Spain.

I find the hatred British people have for ginger hair particularly funny considering that so many women across the world actually dye their hair to become redheads.

I mentioned that red hair is popular in France. That's an understatement. It's enormous in France. The short, chic haircuts and the dyed red locks are a staple amongst 'women of a certain age' on the continent.

And elsewhere, women are turning auburn whenever they can. I mentioned Dana and Willow - two of television's most famous redheads. It's probably surprising to learn that both of them get it out of a bottle.

But why do women turn red? What is the allure of the Titian hair?

Well, redheaded woman are always seen as sexy. The Romans and Ancient Greeks saw red hair as a highly attractive quality (much like modern fascination with the blond.)

The term 'Titian' itself comes from Renaissance painter Tiziano Vecelli, who was famous for painting redheaded beauties. Before the days of fake tans and sunbeds, pale skin was the ultimate 'look' to go for and redheaded women were always naturally pale.

But sexy isn't just a look. It's also an attitude - and redheaded women are renowned for having plenty of that. The 'hot tempered' redhead is a positive stereotype. The flaming locks signify a woman who's fiery, passionate, impulsive and sensual. Read an old detective novel and the words used to describe the redheaded romantic interest are usually dripping with innuendo - words like 'smouldering.'

Red hair is also a symbol of strength. Think of famous redheads in the past - the terrifying Boudica - 'Ice Queen' of the Celts - had red curls that fell down her shoulders. Queen Elizabeth I, who rode to face the Spanish Armada at the head of the English army, was renowned for her beautiful red hair.


Women with red hair are seen as leaders - as symbols of strength and passion. They're seen as sexy, sassy, sensual and smart. Gentlemen might prefer blondes, but Bruce Springsteen sang: "you have not lived til you have had your tyres rotated by a red-headed woman."

Women dye their hair red because they want to be associated with these positive traits. And who can blame them? The only sad thing is that most fake-redheads are easy to spot. I've seen many women die their hair red - but I've never seen one who looks entirely convincing.

It's the pale skin. The freckles. The icy blue eyes. The entire 'ginger' package is difficult to emulate. Turning into a blond Playboy bunny only involves a slap of fake tan and some peroxide. Redhead women, however, are in a class of their own.

All hail the honest, home-grown, 100% natural redheaded woman...

Models - pictures sourced from Flickr, models featured: Feline, by .hi3photo, Jen Thornton taken by Chris Flook at Doubletree Studios, Sara by jaidecker.

15 comments:

Me said...
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Anonymous said...

I dye my hair red with henna although I am a natural blond. I enjoy it because it leaves my hair shinier and healthier. There is nothing wrong with changing your hair color as long as you do it safely and match your skin tone. You're putting yourself and other natural redheads way too high on the pedestal...get real and don't be finicky over silly things like hair color. It makes you seem snobby. :]

Anonymous said...

I have had to convince many, MANY people in the last 13 years, including natural redheads, that I am not a natural redhead myself. I use a great shade of copper red that goes with my very fair complexion and "icy blue eyes". I don't have freckles, but lots of non-redheads do, like my sister and my nephew. Many women can and do color their hair well.

And believe me, I have had more painful sunburns in my life than most people could believe (hence, why so many people don't believe I color).

I got called other names as an adolescent for my physical apperance - all kids eventually do. For me, it was my huge boobs. I'm sure it sucked as much as people calling you "copper top." Snobby, indeed!

Roland Hulme said...

You're right. My heart really goes out for those poor teenage girls with larger than average breasts. It must be hell for them.

Well, Soleil Moon Fyre can't have had much fun, poor thing.

Vi31 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Well, it was hell, roland. It sucked. SMF had a breast reduction herself at age 16. I would've too, and would now, if had I had the money.

Do you think it costs more money for a breast reduction or for a anyone who's tired of being picked on to color her own hair?

Roland Hulme said...

I wasn't being flippant - poor Soleil Moon Frye had an absolutely miserable time.

I can't imagine it can be any fun to have unmanagably large mammaries to deal with. We men only have two small external attachments, but they bang about enough as it is. I'd hate to imagine what it would be like if they weighed two pounds each.

I'm not knocking you getting picked on. People get picked on for all sorts of reasons when they're kids - ESPECIALLY in England, where it's some sort of right or passage or something.

My point is that abuse against ginger people is institutionalised in Great Britain.

Anonymous said...

Your post is funny considering the fact that pretty much every "iconic" redhead is "fake".

Lucille Ball - Fake
Gillian Anderson - Fake
Rita Hayworth - Fake

and even Christina Hendricks (Mad Men) - fake
The Judds - fake (Do they pull it off? I'll leave that for you to decide.)
and lots more.

People that want to go ginger DO get made fun of. People can't fathom why someone would want to. Also, I've known natural redheads who you'd think are fake. It's rare but I've met redheads who have dark brows, like dark brown and brown eyes but I've seen the baby photos and they're all red!

Anonymous said...

I was born a red-head and so I get the awful burns, pale skin, icy blue eyes, along with the freckles, but my hair turned blonde. Because I'm blonde I have injured teasing thorought my childhood for being stupid, ditzy, and shallow, all because of my hair color. I now DYE (not die, dye) my hair red, and personally I think I have earned every right to do so!

A fake ginger who is convincing... said...

I had the freckles, the pale pale skin, the 1st and 2nd degree sunburns, and my hair highlighted red in the sun- so I dyed the rest to match in high school. Since I am active and always am in the sun the freckles multiplied and my roots always match the dye. I used to be a day walker and now a full fledged (if late blooming) "ginger." And yes I pass. I studied in London for a good bit and got the brunt of the stigma I had missed in my blonde adolescence. Been anywhere from auburn to strawberry and friends haven't noticed. Even my aunt said "I am glad you finally dyed hair back to red" I had blonde highlights over red...

aislingrua said...

I have to laugh that all the comments seem to be from the fakers. redheads who have a bit of disdain for those who color aren't being "snobby", we are just annoyed that you people reap the benefits later in life without having had to endure the hardship of being born red. its irritating to have someone like emma stone go on about being born blonde but "feeling like a redhead" inside and that "being a redhead is all about attitude, not whether you were born that way". seriously? think about it this way, would it be ok for someone to go get eyelid surgery, dye their hair black and call themselves asian when they were born white? you can say that being a redhead isn't a race, so its not the same, but its pretty close. we are a true minority in the world, and as such when people fake it and go around acting as if they know what its like for us, its annoying. end of story.

Roland Hulme said...

Amen!

kat kink said...

Viva la red!!! If your not red get outta my bed I am a natural red head I grew up hating my hair because of other peoples crude comments now I love it and so do other people all the natural reds need to connect orgy and mass reproduce c'mon peeps we are at 2% of the population

nadine said...

Emma Stone "liar". Born brunette. Anyway, my grandpa had red hair (guess what his nickname was :) and I was born with red hair but it turned blond, I hope I carry the red gene!

Jesse said...

Fake reds have not done the time, AKA elementary school.