Okay, so I admit it. My lovely locks are not naturally red. I've been dying my hair since October last year. People here at work tease me for being the stereotypical looking Irish girl with hard core pale skin, freckles, and red hair (all of which besides my boss thinks is genetic). I was flattered that my home dye job seems real.
but, I got to thinking recently...
My mother's side of the family is known for its red heads. My spit fire uncle and aunt sported bright auburn locks before age caught up with them. My cousins have strawberry blonde locks I'd love to steal so I wouldn't have to depend on Nice and Easy 101 every 4 weeks. I was only blessed with summer highlights. No one else in my hugenormous extendended family has red hair.
A lot of boys I know have a thing for the lushious red locks. What is it about the color that pulls so many to it? Is it because the color stands out in a crowd? Just how rare is a true red head these days? Is this attraction to the color nature's way of trying to preserve a dying trait?
Anyway! I came upon this article and was fascinated. Hope some of you find it as interesting as I did. Will this century see the last of redheads?
With 4% of people carrying gene, it probably will fade
She was just walking down the street with her sister, in her old neighborhood, when an elderly woman stopped her car in front of her and called out, “I love your hair! It’s so beautiful!”
Caitlin Tydings was about 8 then, and caught off guard. Now a high school senior, she has since grown accustomed to strangers commenting on her strawberry-blond locks.
“My hair has always been somewhat of a personal trademark,” says the 18-year-old from Irondequoit, N.Y., the only redhead in her Irish family. “It’s just so rare here. I don’t have any other red-headed friends, and I can only count two or three girls — not even — in my school with red hair.”
If predictions by the Oxford Hair Foundation come to pass, the number of natural redheads everywhere will continue to dwindle until there are none left by the year 2100.
The reason, according to scientists at the independent institute in England, which studies all sorts of hair problems, is that just 4 percent of the world’s population carries the red-hair gene. The gene is recessive and therefore diluted when carriers produce children with people who have the dominant brown-hair gene.
Dr. John Gray’s often publicized explanation of his foundation’s findings: “The way things are going, red hair will either be extremely rare or extinct by the end of the century.”
Red hair — the kind that does not come from a bottle — certainly has made the endangered list. But with 4 percent of 6.4 billion people carrying the gene, says one scientist, it is too large a figure to be wiped out completely in the next 95 years.
“I think someone may want to check their calculator,” says the University of Rochester Medical Center’s David Pearce, an associate professor with a Ph.D. in biochemistry and genetics. The red-hair gene “will dilute out and become rare, but there are a variety of other factors that can change hair color that are not really understood well right now.”
The gene responsible for red hair — known as the melanocortin 1 receptor, or MC1R — was only discovered in the late 1990s. People have a good chance of being born with red hair if they have a mutation of that gene.
Red hair is found in all ethnic backgrounds but is most commonly associated with people of Celtic descent.
“I usually get, ‘Oh, she’s Irish,’” says Tydings. She doesn’t mind the assumption; she feels a special connection to the Emerald Isle natives who share her red hair, fair skin and freckles.
“I’m so into my heritage, it’s nice to express it physically.”
Red hair skipped two generations before sprouting on Brianna McBride, a 5-year-old preschooler from Penfield, N.Y. It comes from her great-grandmother on her father’s side.
“As a baby, we’d be in the store and people would always try to touch her head. She didn’t like that, so she was very shy,” recalls her mom, Alice.
As Brianna got older, “we started to point out other redheads, and she started understanding.”(source)