Redhead stereotypes

What do the villains Syndrome, Poison Ivy and Chuckie have in common? They all have red hair. 

When I watched movies and television in my childhood, I saw a fair amount of evil characters that had red hair. As a natural redhead, it was a little disheartening to see Hollywood portray redheads in a way that made me dislike my hair, but as time went on and I got older I learned to embrace the rarity of having red hair. 

According to Healthline, red hair is a recessive genetic trait caused by a series of mutations in the MC1R gene. Redheads also make up less than 2% of the world's population, making it the rarest natural hair color out there. 

So, why is it that Hollywood has depicted redheads as evildoers? As I kept researching, I continued to see that, historically, redheads had quite a reputation for being seen as the bad guy. For example, many traitorous biblical figures such as Eve and Judas Iscariot are depicted as having red hair by painters. According to History Collection, during the Spanish Inquisition, many soldiers used red hair as a way of identifying Jews despite the lack of any correlation. Famous writers such as Dickens and Shakesphere would also use this prejudice with characters in their stories.

History speaks for itself. Redheads were bound to be depicted as evil because of how different our hair is from others — heck, we’re practically mutants. I’m not saying that redheads are being discriminated against or that we have it rough, it just interests me that the rarest natural hair color is often depicted as something that should be feared. 

My whole life I’ve had adults tell me how beautiful my red hair is, and they would ask me, “Do you know how much money people pay to get your hair color?” My schoolmates, however, had a different perception of it, calling me names like “Carrots” and “Little Red.” I didn’t like my hair when I was young, not only because of the teasing, but because I’m the only red-headed child in my family. I wanted brunette hair like my brother and cousins. 

But as time went on, I began to appreciate my red hair more. I’ve paid more attention to how redheads are depicted in the media today, and even though the spitfire red-headed girl like Jessica Rabbit and nerdy, scrawny red-headed boy like Chuckie Finster stereotypes haven’t changed much, I hope redheads will embrace their hair more. For the future of the media, I hope that more natural red-headed actors appear on screen and that they can show how beautiful red hair can be. 

I realize that this might not be the biggest issue in the world right now, but I think it’s important for people to know that the media is very integral to how people perceive others. When you constantly see the media portray something as bad or good, people begin to believe it. Now more than ever is the time to embrace what makes you different and to show others you aren’t dyeing your red locks anytime soon.

culture@dailynebraskan.com