“Your hair is brown.”
I could see the glint in her eye—my niece was in one of her moods. An all-too-regular occurrence at six-years-old.
I corrected her the very first time, after which I realized it was a game. A game I would lose every time, if I played. She wanted to get a reaction from me. So I didn’t react. Fortunately, my [ahem] years of experience allowed me to continue the former conversation without so much as blinking an eye.
I was a carrot top when I was younger. Is my hair darker now? Yes. Brown? No. I still proudly embody the redhead title, for all of its pros and cons. Fortunately, there are more pros than cons now. When I was growing up, only clowns and witches had red hair. Now there are celebrities like Julianne Moore and animated heroes like Merida who help make red hair fashionable.
As my hair continues to age—with more white hairs cropping up in the last year than I would like (I’ve heard redheads go white rather than gray)—I’ve decided to stay au natural. The various synthetic shades of orange and burgundy that I see around Eastern and Central Europe motivate me to avoid dying my hair. I applaud people’s interest in being a redhead, but the execution is a bit, shall we say, off.
How is it that there’s such a range of colors that fall under the redhead spectrum? My friend Áine helped answer that question for me when she shared the article “Why Do We Call People Redheads Instead of Orangeheads.”
Turns out, the color red was named long before the color orange. In fact, the article poses that the term redhead was first used in the 1200s, whereas the color orange was only first used in the 1540s.
Something I doubt my niece will care too much about. That’s okay. When she starts dating, I’m sure I’ll find something to say with a glint in my eye.