Red Hair

This post comes about by a somewhat auspicious coincidence. I stumbled across a nifty new book about red haired people; read it; decided to review it for you; then discovered “Love Your Red Hair Day” is today.

I noticed that Jacky Colliss Harvey’s book, Red: A History of the Redhead was released five months ago.  That probably meant that several other redheads discovered this tome before I had a chance at it. Red-01

To find positive literature regarding red hair is much like finding positive writings about LGBTs used to be.  A difficult proposition, to be sure.  Redheads and gays have similar histories of persecution and promotion.  Both have been vilified by the church and both are seeing a revision of negative proscriptions, somewhat. Both groups are still seen as “other”. I came to this realization long ago, because I belong to both groups.

One of the biggest dichotomies about red haired people is described, in depth, in Harvey’s book.  That is the difference in social acceptance between red haired females and red haired males.  Females are more often seen in a positive light and males in a very negative shade.

Redheaded women have been historically seen as sexually desireable to the opposite sex. Because red haired females are seen as others, they are perceived as being more liberated than women with conventionally colored hair. Harvey says men are strongly drawn to this aspect.

Jacky Colliss Harvey

Jacky Colliss Harvey

Men, on the other hand, are thought of variously as evil spawn of the Devil or as not quite men.  Because many Viking raiders were redheads, red haired males with ruddy skin have been accused of being barbarians. Due to the fact that many of us have fair skin and must be protected from over-exposure to the Sun, we’re accused of being unmanly.

Because Jacky Colliss Harvey is a woman, she has more to say about female redheads.  That doesn’t mean she has neglected the implications of being redheaded and male. Also, although redheads have long been an outcaste group, there are many benefits to being naturally red haired.  Because many of us were picked on as children, we learned to be strong. The more perceptive redheads also become more empathetic towards the plight of other minorities because of our own persecution.

In that I’m a redhead, I read Harvey’s book through a personal filter. Sometimes I put the book aside in order to recall my own experiences as a redhead. My experiences paralleled those of other gingers.  As a young boy, I was mercilessly teased about my

The color of America's most famous bridge matches my hair.

The color of America’s most famous bridge matches my hair.

“carrot top”. I often wished that I had been born with brown, black, or blonde hair. On the other hand, my older aunts and other female relatives seemed delighted with my hair. However, they often discussed it as if it was my only attribute.

Luckily, I had a constant fellow traveller. My brother, Mark, had the same brilliant shade of orange hair as mine.  I think we were closer siblings than most because of our hair color. Certainly, it was easier to suffer the slings and arrows of redheadedness because we had each other to lean on.  We both came to not only accept our fate as redheads, Mark and I developed a certain pride about our leonine manes. Both of us let our hair grow long and wavy. Together, we were redheaded Viking pirates in the struggle for justice and goodness.

If you were born with red hair, today is the day to love your orange strands.  It is also a good day to pick up Red: A History of the Redhead.  Even if you were not born red haired, there is much to enjoy in Harvey’s generously illustrated book.

{ Red: A History of the Redhead by Jacky Colliss Harvey; 240 pages, published June 2015 by Black Dog & Leventhal; ISBN: 978-1-57912-996-5 }

blja_gt_lThe Blue Jay of Happiness likes what the redheaded Mark Twain had to say about the topic. “When red-headed people are above a certain social grade, their hair is auburn.”

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Books, Controversy, cultural highlights, History, religion, Youth and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Red Hair

  1. Pingback: Red Hair | oshriradhekrishnabole

  2. ORT-ORT-ORT-ORT-! (Seal of Approval…from a redhead!)

  3. Pingback: Red Hair | By the Mighty Mumford

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