I am a natural redhead. When I was growing up in the 1980’s and 1990’s, it was hard to find on screen characters who looked like me. Among the handful who I could look to as inspiration was Ariel (Jodi Benson) in the 1989 film, The Little Mermaid.
Over the last few years, Disney has rebooted their beloved animated films into live action films. The newest addition to this trend is the live reboot of The Little Mermaid with Halle Bailey stepping into the fins of Disney’s first modern Princess.
I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about this casting. While I applaud Disney for choosing an actress of color to play the role, my heart is still wedded to the idea that Ariel is a redhead. When your growing up and you look different from your peers, you look to film and television characters who look like you. When I was a kid, that was Ariel. As an adult, I don’t agree with her narrative, but her image and the impression she made back then are still with me to this day.
Readers, what do you think? Do you agree or disagree with the casting?
NPR commentator Marion Roach is a natural redhead.
In her 2006 book, The Roots Of Desire: The Myth, Meaning and Sexual Powers Of Red hair, she examines the legends that have surrounded Redheads throughout the centuries. Going back through history, she starts with the ancient figures of Lillith from the Hebrew Bible and Set from Egyptian myth. Moving through time, she visits the myth that Mary Magdalene and Judas were redheads. Ms. Roach also delves into the science and genetics that determines why some people are born with red hair. While completing her research on modern redheads, Ms. Roach spends time in a “witch camp” and a high end hair salon in New York City.
There are many myths about redheads. Like any myth, after a certain amount of time, the line between fact and fiction often becomes blurry. Ms. Roach’s approach to the book is an intellectual one, but it is not so intellectual that the reader feels like they are reading a college textbook. Written in a down to earth, informative style, this book is an easy to read, appealing style that quickly hooks the reader. One of my favorite attributes of the book, was Ms. Roach’s family history. Her paternal grandmother was a redhead, as was her father.
Like Ms. Roach, I am a natural redhead. I have red hair on both sides of my family tree. As an avid reader and a redhead, I enjoyed this book. I recommend it, not just for redheads, but for book lovers who enjoy a good book.