Breaking Down Rumors about Your Carrot-Top-Ed-Sheeran-Looking Friends
Emily Richards shares five common rumors about redheads or gingers, whatever you may refer to them as, and determines whether they are true or complete lies. Being a redhead herself, Emily has had firsthand experience of accusations of being a vampire, a witch, and even stealing your soul.
#1 Gingers don’t have souls.
MYTH: This myth can mostly be attributed to the television series South Park after an episode titled “Ginger Kids” was released in November 2005. In the episode, a character named Eric gave a class presentation about gingers having “Gingervitus” which he said occurs because gingers have no souls. As familiar as “Gingervitus” may sound, it does not exist. You’re probably thinking of gingivitis which is a common gum disease that people of all hair colors can develop. The argument of gingers not having souls also proves to be quite inconsistent as some say gingers steal souls which is how they get their freckles. So do gingers have lots of souls or no souls? Feel free to do your own research, but the arguments for either side are usually found on weird conspiracy websites that download a virus to your computer when you click on their link. Could it be the gingers covering for themselves?
#2 Red hair is the rarest hair color in the world.
FACT: Only 1–2% of the world’s population are redheads as it is a recessive gene. Furthermore, those with red hair and blue eyes make up the rarest hair and eye color combination. The University of Melbourne reported that only 0.17% of the population has both of these traits. Red hair can be more popular depending on the region. In Scotland and Ireland, the most common region for redheads, they can make up to 30% of the population. Blue eyes are also more common in these areas and in Northern Europe in general. Makes sense why all three redhead Disney princesses are from Northern Europe (or the ocean nearby!).
#3 Redheads are witches and vampires!
MYTH: Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, redheads are not witches and vampires. This was a common belief in medieval times as Montague Summers wrote in Malleus Maleficarum: “Those whose hair is red, of a certain peculiar shade, are unmistakably vampires.” Redheads are typically very pale and burn in the sun quite easily which closely resembles vampires’ fair skin and aversion to daylight. During witch hunts, women were burned at the stake simply because of their red hair. In Germany, it was estimated that 45,000 redheads were tortured and murdered under the accusations of witchcraft, according to the newspaper the Daily Mail. In the 1700s, Irish poet Jonathan Swift categorized redheads as mischievous and more likely to participate in criminal activity, especially ginger women. These beliefs have since been debunked with scientific evidence that having the redhead gene does not come with supernatural abilities.
#4 Redheads have a higher pain tolerance.
FACT: No, it is not because they are children of the devil, I shouldn’t even have to debunk that myth. Science Daily breaks it down beginning with the fact that redheads have a gene mutation in the melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R) that makes it inactive. Things are about to get more scientific so hold onto your hats (because you’re a redhead and you might get sunburnt so your mom made you wear a hat). The inactive MC1R gene causes lower levels of the molecule POMC to be released, which interferes with two hormones that block pain and sensitize pain. The body naturally produces opioid receptors that block pain so this combined with a lower level of POMC makes redheads have a higher pain tolerance.
#5 Climate change means the end for redheads.
MYTH: The Huffington Post and Britain’s Independent newspaper both published articles around 2014 raising alarms that the heating of the planet would cause redheads to be nonexistent. Their belief behind this is that climate change will bring significantly less cloud coverage, heating up the planet. The Washington Post reported that if it brought less, redheads would not be able to get sufficient vitamin D because they burn so easily. They believe that this would cause humans to adapt and the gene would disappear. This is untrue because there are multiple small variations of genes that cause redheads to prevail. Plus modern medicine has produced sunscreen and vitamin D supplements, not just for gingers but for anyone sensitive to the sun or lacking vitamin D. The existence of gingers is not at stake, there will be more of us.