Six and Twenty: Redheads, amber and violet



Mrs. Kim Vandervort recently welcomed Six and Twenty members to her home where redheads were the focus of the program.

Mrs. Vandervort noted that her club book for the year is “The Rosie Project” by author Graeme Simsion. She chose the book because one of the central characters in the book, Rosie, was a redhead. Mrs. Vandervort then turned her attention to her topic — what it means to be a redhead including the cultural perception, some myths, some truths, and the redhead in literature.

Mrs. Vandervort shared genetic information including the fact that a redhead child is the result of a mutation on the MC1R gene on chromosome 16. While the term ‘redde-headed’ as a synonym for redhead can be traced back to Thomas Cooper’s Thesaurus in 1565, the specific chromosome responsible for red hair was only identified in 1995 by Professor Jonathan Rees of the Department of Dermatology at the University of Edinburgh.

Redheads comprise only 2 percent of the world’s population. Most redheads have brown eyes, or green eyes. The combination of red hair and blue eyes occurs in less than 1 percent of the world’s population. Mrs. Vandervort, a strawberry blond, falls into that category. However, 40 percent of the population carry the mutated MC1R gene that’s responsible for red hair.

For almost the entirety of its existence on the plant, red hair, across every society where it has appeared, has been wrestled with as an unaccountable mystery. It has been hailed as a sign of divinity, damned as an awful consequence of breaking one of the oldest taboos, ostracized and persecuted as a marker of religion or race, and vilified or celebrated as an indicator of character.

Mrs. Vandervort discussed some claims such as redheads feel pain differently, need more anesthesia during surgical procedures, are more sensitive to temperatures, bleed more, bruise more easily, and smell different than people with other hair colors. Mrs. Vandervort said that in fact, redheads do require 20 percent more anesthesia because they feel pain differently than others.

The biochemical differences of the redhead also mean they do smell different because they have the scent of amber and violet. Fragrances smell different on them and do not last as long on them.

Honorary Member Mrs. Sara Conti, from Southern Pines, North Carolina, was in attendance as Mrs. Vandervort’s co-hostess for the event.

Following Historical Minutes by Mrs. Sally Buchannan, Mrs. Vandervort served strawberry lush, fresh berries, nuts and chocolate. President Mrs. Judy Johnston served punch. Guests enjoyed relaxing on the deck as they chatted and enjoyed their dessert.

The front porch featured flower pots over-flowing with pink and purple petunias as well as trailing ivy.