Redheads stay younger longer, so there!
By Diane (Red) Cooke
Scientists in the Netherlands have discovered that the gene that keeps people looking younger for longer is the same gene that produces red hair and fair skin.
Researchers at Erasmus University in Rotterdam studied the faces of almost 2,700 elderly Dutch Europeans, and found that those carrying a variation of the MC1R gene (most prevalent in redheaded people) looked on average two years younger than they actually are.
The news gets even better for redheads, as it's not only external appearances that are affected by MC1R, which has been nick-named 'the ginger gene'. Findings also suggest that people with the gene may be ageing slower and therefore have better health overall, implying that perceived age is a good indicator of how healthy someone is generally.
So that's the good news, what about the bad? Well, redheads may endure schoolyard bullying as children - I know I was - and find themselves the butt of endless jokes in pop culture.
In 2013, Dorothy Dalton, a talent management strategist wrote an article entitled “Do redheads need to be a protected minority?.” Having red hair even she was “surprised to learn that there is a growing move for redheads to become a ‘protected minority’ as a result of the increased incidence of bullying and discrimination. This is not only in schools … but also workplace bullying, ranging from corporate settings to the NYPD.”
Throughout history reactions to redheads have varied from admiration to suspicion and ridicule. They were burnt at the stake in medieval England as witches. Aristotle was said to have called them ‘emotionally un-house broken’ although that has never been substantiated. Across the globe, proverbs and warnings are centred around the negative aspects of unfortunate encounters with persons of red hair colouring.
However, there seems to have been a sea change over the last decade and our love for gingers is pretty evident. Real-life redheads like Julianne Moore, Nicole Kidman and, of course, Prince Harry, make us want to run to the salon and go crimson. And we're head-over-heels for fictitious reds like Annie, The Little Mermaid and our all-time favorite, Anne Shirley aka "Anne of Green Gables."
Not only is their fiery hair swoon-worthy, but these folks have got the type of sass, success, and self-confidence to back up their standout looks. While they might not all be natural-born redheads, we still appreciate their ability to pull off a red-hot mane.
What's more gingers even have their own day #LoveYourRedHairDay is on November 5 - fiery, geddit?