Ancient Signs of Invaders and Devilry
"Each man disparageth his fellow-creature… And this is often done upon such trivial grounds… The putting of disesteem upon persons, merely because of the native colour of the excrement of the head." - Obadiah Walker
Academic Obadiah Walker strongly denounced the prevalent practice of vilifying red-haired men. In his plea, Walker highlighted the unjust criticism based on superficial reasons, specifically the natural color of their hair. Red hair, historically, has been associated with Otherness, exemplified by references to biblical character Judas and ancient Gauls and Scots who were depicted as invaders. These perceptions stemmed from times when red-haired individuals represented a minority, which eventually led to the misguided belief in their association with evil.
Even in modern times, red hair remains a striking and distinctive feature among public figures. Texan singer-songwriter Billie Eilish is renowned not only for her musical prowess but also for her vibrant red locks. Reflecting on history, hair historian Rachael Gibson noted that red hair has always been regarded as exceptional. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England in the 16th century, her deliberate choice of fiery ginger curls made her stand out.
The Reign of Scarlet Hair
"It definitely has an accessibility that blonde doesn’t. Especially for more melanated hair types, blonde is just very expensive to keep up." - Nicole Keenen
In recent times, red hair has gained renewed popularity, with designers and celebrities alike embracing its allure. From cherry-coke to strawberry blonde hues, the Fall-Winter 2023 runways witnessed this captivating trend at Burberry, Rodarte, Gucci, and Missoni, among others. Natural redhead model Rianne Van Rompaey graced the catwalks of major fashion shows, solidifying the trend's prominence this season.
Surprisingly, red hair's influence extends far beyond contemporary fashion. While less than two percent of the global population possesses this genetic trait, red hair has captivated and fascinated people for centuries. During the notorious witch trials in 15th century Europe, simply having red hair could be deemed evidence of being in league with the devil, resulting in persecution and even death. Similarly, in 17th-century England, a famous fashion feature disparagingly exclaimed, "To be natural in color, as far as Paris is concerned, is not to be seen at all."
The Celebrity Influence
"It’s such a visual thing; we can scan (hair color) in a second. And red has this enduring appeal in terms of being eye-catching. It’s a good time to change your hair when you’ve got an album out." - Rachael Gibson
As trends often find inspiration in celebrity choices, recent hair transformations have further propelled the fascination with red hair. Billie Eilish, Megan Fox, and Dua Lipa all made headlines with their switch to various shades of red. These notable shifts in hair color coincided with the release of new projects, leading to speculation about the strategic visual impact of such changes in the entertainment industry.
Hair stylist Nicole Keenen highlighted that red hair offers an economic advantage for her clients compared to maintaining blonde hair, especially for individuals with more melanated hair types. While blonde often necessitates costly upkeep, red offers a more accessible alternative.
A Timeless Expression of Beauty
"When Elizabeth I was on the throne, red hair was fashionable… Men and women in the court dyed their hair red, to show their allegiance." - Rachael Gibson
The allure of red hair remains ever-present, appealing to those seeking excitement and confidence through their appearance. Red-headed individuals throughout history, such as Queen Elizabeth I, made bold fashion choices using wigs or dyes to enhance their fiery locks. This expression of beauty and identity has persisted through the ages, with red hair becoming an emblem of individuality and a means of standing out.
From its ancient representation as a signifier of invaders and devilry to its enduring popularity as a captivating trend, red hair remains a striking and sought-after attribute. Despite its rarity in the global population, red hair continues to captivate and inspire, making it an enduring symbol of beauty and uniqueness.