March of the Red Army As TV's sexist redhead admits to faking it, a genuine ginger nut hails the rise of the celebrity scarlet lady
03:16 GMT, 15 March 2012
She’s the most famous redhead on TV — a woman whose flame-haired beauty stole the show in Mad Men and whose milky curves and Titian hair have graced countless magazine covers.
But it transpires all is not what it seems. Last week, it emerged that Christina Hendricks is not a natural redhead — in fact, she is a mousy blonde who has been dying her hair since she was ten.
In an interview to publicise the upcoming fifth series of Mad Men, the actress said she had been influenced by a book she read as a child: ‘I was obsessed with Anne Of Green Gables. There was something about her that spoke to me — and I wanted to have her beautiful red hair. My mum said: “Well, let’s throw a rinse on it.”
Mad mane: Christina Hendricks, left, has admitted she isn't a natural redhead, unlike our writer Marianne Power
‘My hair was very blonde at the time,
but it went carrot red. And I was over the moon. I went to school the
next day and felt like myself. I couldn’t tell you what shade I am now
because I haven’t seen it in ages.’
Well I never. As a natural redhead, I
feel annoyed that I didn’t spot it — I can usually weed out a fake
ginger nut at 100 paces. But more than feeling duped, I feel, well,
After all, they say that imitation is
the sincerest form of flattery, so consider me well and truly flattered.
Growing up, I would have given anything to be ‘normal’ with brown or
blonde hair. In Seventies Surrey, being ginger was not exactly the
epitome of beauty.
You got the look: Florence Welch's hair wasn't always so striking
My thick, wiry orange hair, transparent eyelashes, countless freckles and skin that turned puce if I even so much as looked at the sun meant I was never one of the pretty girls — and I would have gone without pocket money if it meant I could have my best friend Sarah’s glossy brunette hair.
I fantasised about being old enough to go to the hairdressers and dye my hair brown — anything to end the ignominy of being a carrot top.
While my mother, a true red-headed beauty, promised me I’d learn to love being different when I was older, I didn’t believe her.
It's a fair copper: Actress Emilia Fox has a Titian tint
Fast forward 20 years, however, and what a difference! Not since the days of Rita Hayworth, Maureen O’Hara and Katharine Hepburn have redheads had it so good. Natural redheads Julianne Moore, Lily Cole and Adele are the leading ladies in their fields — and others are racing to follow suit.
Open the pages of any celebrity magazine or switch on the TV and you’ll see a Red Army is taking over showbiz, with tones of auburn, copper, burgundy and even pillarbox red popping up on the most unlikely heads.
Forget Blonde Ambition — these days, if you want to get attention you have to see red.
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Christina Hendricks is not the only one. Did you know that singer Florence Welch, from Florence And The Machine, is not a natural redhead either
Like Miss Hendricks, she has been dyeing it since she was at school. And supermodel Karen Elson, described by Vogue as Fashion’s Red Queen, is a mousy brown without the help of her colourist.
The copycats are crowding in. English rose Emilia Fox turned up to the premiere of W.E., Madonna’s film about Wallis Simpson, with her natural blonde hair dyed mahogany. Blonde bombshell Scarlett Johansson has dabbled with a shade known as vermillion, racy Rihanna was until recently sporting a red so bright you needed sunglasses to look at it, and even Charlotte Church has had a go.
High barnet: Penny Smith goes auburn
Slowly but surely it seems that the
ubiquitous honey blonde highlights so revered by my generation have
become pass and bland — while Cheryl Cole’s band of identikit brunettes
mean that dark tresses no longer hold any mystery or depth.
Red hair, on the other hand, has become red hot. It’s associated with a daring, devil-may-care defiance, a free-spirited etherealness and, dare I say it, a certain sexiness.
Indeed, blonde GMTV presenter Penny Smith says that since dyeing her hair auburn last year, after more than 20 years as a blonde, she hasn’t looked back.
‘I may be 50 (and a little bit), but my new hair colour has proved there’s life in the old dog yet. It’s put a spring in my step and there has been a noticeable upsurge in attention from the males of the species. Very gratifying,’ she says.
One in vermillion: Actress Scarlett Johansson
And it’s not just celebs who are keeping warm with a fiery glow — hairdressers are reporting a massive rise in people wanting to dye their hair. But while this is all extremely pleasing, it’s also a little bit unsettling. My mother was right, you see, I did grow to quite enjoy standing out in a crowd.
Now, I find myself getting quite annoyed when people describe others as redheads when I know they aren’t natural.
There’s only one problem. Whisper it! I’m not a natural redhead any more either.
Rinse aid: Fiery transformation for 'Scarlet' Church
Ever since my first grey hairs started to arrive a few years ago (actually, they’re not grey, they’re pure white and they stand upright as if I’ve put my finger in a socket), I’ve been getting a bit of help from Clairol’s Nice ’n’ Easy. It’s Light Auburn, since you ask, and it takes in just ten minutes.
But don’t tell anyone. This is my moment in the sun and I’m going to enjoy it.