Skip to comments.'Italy's Ginger Gene Spread From Sicily'
Posted on 07/18/2014 1:53:50 PM PDT by nickcarraway
Over the centuries, theyve been scorned, persecuted and marginalized. But it was an example of modern-day disdain towards redheads that prompted an Italian photographers mission to safeguard their diversity, The Local has learned.
Lets face it, redheads get a tough time, especially in the early years of their life. I should know, because I am one. But more on that later.
Marina Rosso, a 29-year-old fine art photographer and researcher from Udine, is not a redhead as the English translation of her surname might suggest.
But after hearing in 2011 that flame-haired men were being rejected from the worlds largest sperm bank because demand for ginger children was so low, she decided to explore the idea that redheads are at the point of elimination through a conspiracy of online questionnaires, aseptic clinics and frozen sperm. Put simply, nobody wants ginger - as they are commonly referred to in the UK - kids.
When people are involved in a selection process, they dont want redheads, Rosso, who stumbled across the donor-clinic news while researching artificial insemination, told The Local.
But they usually dont admit to disliking red hair, they say they just prefer other colours. Its a consequence of what people perceive to be beautiful its like going to the supermarket.
It was the Danish firm, Cyros International, that told ginger men to keep their semen away from their bank of an estimated 140,000 sperm samples, as apart from in Ireland, where redheads can feel at home, demand from elsewhere was pretty much non-existent.
The company later changed its mind, but it left an indelible mark on Rosso, who said that when choosing a donor, women tended to dismiss redheads for the embodiment of a Prince Charming: a man whos not only handsome and healthy but who also went to the best schools.
So in an effort to preserve the diversity of the ginger species, she set about classifying its genetic variations and came up with a matrix that represented the red hair gene across 48 categories, with each combining this feature with five traits: gender, height, build, eye colour and hair type.
Rosso then travelled across Europe to find and photograph people who would fit into these categories.
After a journey that took her across Italy and to the UK, Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Norway and Poland, she returned home with 204 photos.
Out of these, she selected 47 portraits, which formed part of The Beautiful Gene, an exhibition thats so far been held in Turin, Milan and, more recently, in Rome. The project was brought together under the editorial direction of Fabrica, the Benetton Group's communications research centre.
Many of those she met along the way recounted experiences of bullying at school because of their hair, Rosso said, and so tended to stick together because they felt endangered.
However, by their 30s, they no longer felt marginalized.
Its not an issue by the time they reach that age. So during their younger years they don't like it, but then they end up feeling really proud."
I can relate to that. Although to be fair, I was more baffled by the colour of my hair than bothered by it, as I was the rogue ginger of the family, and I was lucky to only receive light teasing from friends.
Up until my mid-teens, I blamed the ginger gene on my Irish roots, from my mothers side.
Then I took a trip to Sicily, where my father is from, and came across a Sicilian family of redheads - complete with blue eyes, freckles and pale skin - shielding themselves on a beach.
My uncle then gave me a history lesson and laid my curiosity to rest. "Youre a descendant of the Normans, he said, referring to the Norman conquest of Sicily in 1061.
Even today, the small population of redheads in Sicily are referred to as normanne, or Normans.
So the Normans, led by Roger I, transported the gene to Sicily, and it spread across Italy from there, said Rosso, who estimates a red-headed population of just one percent in the whole of Italy.
But redheads in Italy get a better deal than those elsewhere, she added, with the colour tending to be admired rather than mocked.
"There are also no typical 'mocking' phrases in the Italian language, like you might find in English," she added.
Rosso has written a book about her research, also called The Beautiful Gene, and published by Fabrica. Click here for more information.
Good. Send the redheaded women my way. The Italians wouldn’t know how to deal with them anyway.
My understanding is that red-headed boys have a lot more trouble than girls.
I know of a whole family of redheads. Their hair is a beautiful color. :-)
As for the Sicilian connection, Sicilians are a big mixture of ethnic backgrounds. I’ve known a few redheaded Sicilians. But, in Sicily - in the old days, anyway - red hair was not viewed in a positive way.
It seems that red hair could become a marker for children who are conceived naturally rather than manufactured for purchase. This might indicate that they’re less likely to have nutcases (or homosexuals) for parents.
Just sayin’ ...
Don’t know about the guys, but red headed women get chased around the block and far down the street.
The Normans had already conquered most of southern Italy before they invaded Sicily.
In ancient Rome, one of the most common cognomina (family names originating in nicknames, usually derived from some physical characteristic) was Rufus, which means redhead.
There was probably also some infusion of redhead ancestry from the Ostrogoths, Lombards and other German invaders over the centuries.
Where are children being manufactured for purchase?
In the artificial reproduction industry, which is almost completely unregulated worldwide. Women sell their ova, men sell their sperm, uteruses are hired in India or Thailand, and the rich people get “their” baby, if they don’t change their minds before it’s born, like that tv personality last week.
“’Cause you, you’re part eggplant.”
Yeah, but then there’s Carrot Top
I think it is fascinating that Ramses the Great had red hair.
Supposedly King David did too.
Redheaded women have always been considered beautiful. There's Maureen O'Hara, Ann-Margret, Nicole Kidman, Ginger on Gilligan's Island, etc. But find a redheaded man who's considered a sex symbol! Trouble is, you need redheaded men to get redheaded women.
That'd be me, depending on how you define "considered"...
Northern Italy has redheads....my grandmother told me that..
I always liked red hair myself (though I do not have it) though I assume I would have agreed about the undesirability of red headed men UNTIL I took a trip to Scotland about twenty years ago and I was amazed at how many drop dead good-looking red-headed men there were.
Anyone who read the Outlander series (soon to be on tv!) will be familiar with reading about a good-looking red-heided hottie!
It's a Neanderthal gene.
I was sorry it didn't last, but at least the show's producers got enough notice to tie up the loose plotlines in the last episode.
I noticed in the movie “Dune”, all the Harkonnens were red headed.
Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica
Cisalpine Gaul, Latin Gallia Cisalpina, in ancient Roman times, that part of northern Italy between the Apennines and the Alps settled by Celtic tribes. Rome conquered the Celts between 224 and 220 bc, extending its northeastern frontier to the Julian Alps.
When Hannibal invaded Italy in 218 bc, the Celts joined his forces, and Rome thereby lost this territory. It was recovered, however, during the final conquest of the Celtic Insubres and Boii between 198 and 191 bc. In 42 bc the province was incorporated into Italy.
The genetic causes, ethnic origins and history of red hair
“Sicilians are a big mixture of ethnic backgrounds.”
You have a talent for understatement !.....LOL....
And some of us choose to be redheads. I’m very pale Irish, blue gray eyes, w/a natural hair color of blue black. I was basically born looking Goth. In my early teens, just like most of my relatives (we were a walking group of recessive genes) I started going gray. I also started playing with hair color. I found with my natural skin/eye color warm, mid to darker reds work the best. LOreal 6R covers my grays really well. I call it better living thru chemistry.
My favorite redhead is on the Cars Candy-O album cover.
Isn’t David Wenham a red-head, or sort of blondish-red? (Faramir from Lord of the Rings).
She should have seen the scene in True Romance where Dennis Hopper laid out the heritage of Sicilians to Sicilian mobster Christopher Walken.
Best dialogue in movie history. Pure gold.