Friends, today we have a guest talking about a topic that’s pretty familiar to me: red hair. Please welcome author Kellyn Roth!
Dear fellow writers,
I AM TIRED OF BEING MISREPRESENTED.
As a redhead, I read about so many redheads, and let me tell you that, first of all, YOU HAVE TOO MANY OF THEM.
Only 2-6% of the U.S. population is readheads, and worldwide, it’s just 1-2%. Furthermore, a really rich, deep, true red is even rarer.
But if you must insist upon writing about redheads — particularly, about unrealistic amounts of redheads — I’m here to help.
Now, granted, this post is somewhat satirical, but there are some bits of wisdom here. So let’s start with things you should NOT do when writing redheads.
Do not create a redhead if she…
1: She hates her red hair.
Okay, you can make this work sometimes, but most of the time, this self-pity is neither attractive or realistic.
Granted, there were a scattering of eras and locations where red hair wasn’t considered to be attractive or had some unhelpful stereotypes about it. However, in general, most redheads get a lot of compliments and in general love their hair.
2: She has a fiery temper or is otherwise a spitfire.
NOT ALL REDHEADS HAVE A FIERY TEMPER. Granted, some of them can, but this is not a general rule. Believe it or not, personality is not really linked to appearance.
A lot of redheads are gentle, quiet, and even-headed.
3: She has freckles.
Not all redheads have freckles. Some of them do. I’m one of the ones who doesn’t.
Further, redheads can have different skin tones! It doesn’t have to be pale. Granted, more redheads are are-you-dead-or-just-pale, like me, but that isn’t universal.
4: She is Irish.
This is a common one. Even back in the old days, the Irish (and Scots) did not account for the majority of redheads! But you always have someone who thinks this is true, and I’ve definitely gotten asked if I’m Irish. (The answer is yes, but I’m also Scottish, Norwegian, Dutch, and British — I’m far more Jewish than I am Irish, and a lot more Norwegian.)
5: She is some cold-hearted seductress.
I mean, I am but that doesn’t mean that every redhead is.
Apparently the stereotype of redheads being evil vixens (I mean, foxes ARE red!) has been around for a long time. Traditionally, “Adam’s first wife,” Lilith*, was portrayed with red hair. (Also a lot of medieval paintings apparently portrayed redheaded Jews as satanic, but that’s… just another interesting thing.)
Truthfully, redheads have been historically over-sexualized. But so have a lot of people and things, and, frankly, I have no wish to play the victim here. Still, keep in mind that your redheads can and should be more than sexual objects. 😉
* Lilith is a part of Mesopotamian and Judaic mythology. Adam’s only wife, according to the Bible, was Eve.
Actual things about redheads you need to know…
1: We don’t usually tan.
Yeahhhh, granted, there are some redheads with different skin tones, as I mentioned earlier, and some redheads tan beautifully.
However, in general, we burn.
2: We’re super aware of how we’re perceived.
Redheads know the stereotypes surrounding them, and they know that their hair color makes them rare, and they know that a lot of people are attracted to red hair.
Actually, there’s a reason for that…
3: Apparently, the color red really does make your heart rate increase.
So if you want to write me — uh, I mean, a redhead — into your book, you can have an excuse for your hero’s racing heart. 😛
Okay, just kidding. But kind of a funny fact, right?
4: We look great in quite a few color schemes, especially the autumn tones.
I feel like half of the books with a redhead in them feature the redhead complaining that she can’t wear X color, but… there aren’t really any colors I look bad in? Personally.
And even if a few more pastel colors were cut out, I could still wear a lot of vibrant colors, black and gray, browns, and blues! So what’s the big deal?
5: We steal souls.
Absolutely true fact. No doubt about its truth. Don’t… don’t even question it.
BONUS: Things We’re Sick of Hearing
1: Is your hair natural?
Yes, it is. I wouldn’t be a redhead if it weren’t.
2: Where did you get that red hair?
Uh…? From… my mother’s… womb?
More seriously, from various places all over my ancestry. My parents both have brown hair, but my paternal aunt and grandmother have/had red hair.
3: Your hair is so pretty!
4: I bet you have a bad temper.
Why… why would you ask someone who you thought had a bad temper a silly question? Is it possible you didn’t think this through?
5: Has anyone ever told you that you look like [redheaded actress]?
They probably have. Especially if it’s Bryce Dallas Howard. I mean, that’s Opie’s daughter, so I can’t be offended…
And that’s it! For now. 😉
Andrea here with you again. I’ve heard most of these stereotypes and questions a million times myself, but I was quite surprised by the freckles one. I haven’t met Mrs. Roth in person , so my only in-person experience with redheads is that every single one I can think of (including myself) have a billion freckles.
Thanks so much for providing this article and the accompanying pictures, Kellyn! It’s such a fun and informative one. Your sense of humor shines through brilliantly too.
Kellyn Roth is a historical romance & women’s fiction author who writes about the empty places where hope has the most room to grow. Her novels include the inspirational Victorian family saga, The Chronicles of Alice and Ivy, and the Kees & Colliers series, which follows a broken family in the tumultuous years of the first half of the 20th century.
Mrs. Roth’s next book in The Chronicles of Alice and Ivy is now available. Check out the blurb and cover for A Prayer Unanswered:
As Alice Strauss enters her first year of marriage—full of optimism and determination—she finds herself wholly unprepared for reality. In a new country, with a new family, she struggles to find her footing. Difficult relationships and situations batter her, but she is determined to establish a perfect life with the man she loves.
Unfortunately, perfection seems just beyond her reach. An unexpected tragedy flings Alice out of control, and she struggles to rise from the ruins. Her world is full of spinning variables and agony beyond anything she has ever experienced.
However, there is hope—in a God who loves her and a future established for her since before time began. Yet the devastation of Alice’s life seems beyond even the touch of grace.
Here are the covers, in proper order, for the full series thus far. (Yes, there are more books to come, y’all. I am currently editing the next one.)
Friends, if you’d like to read another redhead article by Mrs. Kellyn Roth, I found another fun one on her blog. It’s located on this page.
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