a monthly look at the faces
that have made history


First, some facts about redheads. Natural reds make up less than 2 percent of the world's population. According to a report published in National Geographic in 2007, redheads—again, the natural kind—could be extinct in 100 years. And though red hair is most common in northern Europe—especially in Scotland—gingers have popped up everywhere from ancient Rome (Caligula was a redhead) to northwest China. Recently, meanwhile, a weird meme has developed, promoting the idea that redheads are either a scourge or a persecuted minority; take your pick.

South Park set the "gingers have no souls" movement in motion a few years ago; now, redheaded YouTuber CopperCab is battling back on behalf of his kind. And M.I.A. has jumped into the fight, making a video for her new song "Born Free" wherein commandos round up redheads and force them to run a field laced with land mines. Speaking of rockers, the model-turned-chanteuse Karen Elson, whose debut album, The Ghost Who Walks, comes out this month, is just the latest in a long line of gingers, natural and faux, who channel the fiery temperament associated with their hair color into song. Here, before the clock runs out on reds, we pay these women homage.

—Maya Singer

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