Red-headed women are enjoying a new status as sex symbols

Red-headed women are enjoying a new status as sex symbols according to an Australian study by Monash University researcher Ms Amanda Third.

Ms Third, a natural red head, said flame-haired women have begun to surpass the stereotypical Aussie icon of the blonde hair, blue-eyed beach bunny in the sex appeal stakes.

She said the rise to prominence of red haired Hollywood stars such as Nicole Kidman was an indication of this new super sexual status of the red-headed female population.

"There is a long history surrounding treatment of red heads and their place in society. Historically red heads have been seen as women with a lot of spunk. We think of them as exotic, sexy, rebellious and dangerous," Ms Third said.

Natural redheads make up about three per cent of the Australian population. However, the number of bottle red heads has skyrocketed in the past five years with cosmetic companies recording a surge in the demand for red hair dyes.

Statistics show sales of all red shades in hair dressing salons have increased 12 per cent since the same time last year. Figures are continuing to rise and deep rouge and copper dyes are also tipped to feature strongly in the upcoming spring/summer range.

"By dying their hair, woman are trying to buy into the whole mythology that surrounds being a red head, that is, the desire to be racy, dangerous and intriguing to men," Ms Third said.

"However, this also says something interesting about the ways we understand race in Australian culture. What many people don't realise is that there is a long history of associating red hair with Celticness, and in particular, Irishness.

In a multicultural society like Australia which, at least on the surface, embraces ethnic difference, being white has recently begun to be understood as less legitimate. In this context, red hair has become a highly marketable physical characteristic.

"It is one way 'white' women can mark themselves as racially different from other white people and therefore as legitimate members of a multicultural society," she said.

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