20 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Gingers
Over the years, myths and stereotypes about gingers have been formulated. While most of these have been falsehoods and exaggerations, some are based on fact.
What is a ginger person? The racial slur refers to people with colored hair that ranges in shades from Strawberry blonde to Red. The ginger slang origins can be traced back to the 18th Century when Britain occupied parts of Malaysia, home to the Red Ginger plant.
Gingers have a unique set of attributes that set them apart from their blonde and brunette counterparts. These include the following:
1. Their red hair comes in a variety of shades
Just like other hair colors, ginger hair comes in a variety of shades, sizes, and shapes. Shades of red hair can range from bright orange to copper.
2. Their red hair turns grey more slowly
Unlike other hair shades, red hair retains its natural pigment for longer. The red color fades gradually over time through a continuum of reds, from faded copper to strawberry blonde to silvery white. This is why gingers never seem to go grey.
3. They synthesize more vitamin D
Pheomelanin, which is responsible for red hair and pale skin, is predominant in gingers. Pale skin allows ultraviolet B rays to enter the skin for vitamin D synthesis. This enables gingers to synthesize more vitamin D even in low-light conditions. Vitamin D improves the body’s immunity preventing contraction of rickets, arthritis and many other diseases.
4. They have an increased chance of developing skin cancer
Eumelanin acts as a natural, but it is more dominant in darker-skinned people than in redheads who have ashen skin. This makes gingers more vulnerable to the sun’s radiation which increases their chances of developing skin cancer.
5. They are incredibly rare
Gingers make up only 2% of the world’s population which makes them very rare. However, since the red-hair gene is recessive, its carriers are everywhere waiting for mates who are fellow carriers to pass it on to the next generation. The percentage of gingers in the world is only expected to rise
6. They are mostly left-handed
Left-handedness is a recessive trait found in a smaller percentage of the world’s population than right-handedness. Since recessive characteristics tend to be expressed in pairs, it is no surprise that gingers tend to be lefties.
7. They have fewer but thicker strands of hair
On average, blonds have 110,000 strands of hair while brunettes have 140,000. Gingers, on the other hand, have only 90,000 strands. The low strand count in ginger hair is however hardly noticeable since the strands are quite thick. This makes styling red hair relatively easier.
8. Red on the head, fire in bed
Redheads tend to be more alluring due to their rarity and distinctiveness. Red is also a sign of youth and fertility and therefore provokes arousal more than any other hair color. This is why redheads have more fulfilling sex lives than people of any other hair color.
9. They are less likely to develop prostate cancer
Studies have revealed that the mutated MC1R gene plays a significant role in influencing tumor development. This is why ginger men are less likely to develop prostate cancer than other men.
10. Almost half British population comprises ‘secret Gingers’
The UK has a decent population of redheads starting from members of the royal family like Prince Harry. Famous gingers like Marilyn Monroe also abound. However, ‘secret gingers’ make up the most significant percentage of the population. Secret gingers have the ginger gene but do not have ginger hair. Upwards of 40 percent of the British population carries the mutated MC1R gene responsible for ginger hair.
11. They are more attractive to bees
Bees seem to be more attracted to gingers than people with any other hair color. The exact reason for this behavior is not known, but it may be attributed to the flowery color of their hair or their sweet natural scent.
12. They show increased thermal sensitivity
Gingers show increased sensitivity to thermal extremities. Their body temperatures also change much quicker in response. This is probably due to their adaptation to winter climates.
13. They are more likely to develop certain diseases
According to a study published in the Annals of Neurology, gingers are twice as likely to develop Parkinson’s disease compared to brunettes. The reasons for these findings are still a mystery.
14. They can take a joke
Most redheads have experienced ginger prejudice in the form of bullying and name-calling. This makes them develop a thicker skin. Gingers can take a joke.
15. They are sensitive to painkillers but require larger doses of anesthesia
The mutation in the MC1R gene causes increased sensitivity and tolerance to pain in redheads. The role of this gene in the brain affects the activity of endorphins which act as the body’s natural painkillers. As a result, redheads, especially females, have a heightened sensitivity to painkillers especially opioids.
16. They are misunderstood and mistrusted
Throughout history, redheads have been treated with suspicion and contempt. Aristotle reported that “The reddish are of bad character.” For fear of deviant offspring, Hitler banned ginger marriages. Ancient Greeks thought them to be vampires. Most of the women killed throughout Europe during the witch hunts were redheads. Early Christians believed that red hair was a mark of the devil.
17. They have special festivals
The annual ginger festival is held in Breda, Netherlands. It attracts crowds of up to 5,000 gingers. Due to their long history of discrimination, there are special days in the year when gingers are celebrated like the 22nd of February.
18. They are rarely heroes in literature
With a few exceptions, redheads tend to feature as sidekicks in literature rather than the heroes of the story. A good example is Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter books.
19. They have a unique scent
Everyone has an acidic layer of film that covers the skin protecting it from infection. For redheads, this acid mantle is more acidic due to their mutated genes. This highly acidic skin mantle interacts with perfume to create a unique, intoxicating scent that is hard to escape.
20. They have a difficult time changing their hair color
The red pigment on ginger hair is much more compact than any other hair color. Dying over it is almost impossible unless you bleach your hair beforehand.