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How many non-white redheads do you know?

Think about it. Around 1-2% of the world's population boasts natural red hair, which is caused by a genetic mutation in the melanocortin-1 receptor, or MC1R (this mutation might also explain their superpowers).

Despite making up such a small percentage of the population, most of us have the same stereotypical image in our heads when we think of redheads: light-skinned, freckled white people with curls of flaming hair and a fiery temper to match.


Aside from the obvious issue of assigning a temperament to someone based on hair color, there's one other weird conclusion here: Why do we think that all redheads are white?

Photo by Michelle Marshall. Used with permission.

A London-based photographer is opening eyes by turning her camera lens on black and biracial redheads.

Photographer Michelle Marshall, a French-born, London-based photographer, spoke with Upworthy about the genesis of her project over email. Michelle had been working on a story for a different photo project about freckles (another common result of MC1R mutations), when one day, she spotted an adorable freckled redheaded girl — and was surprised to learn that the girl was of mixed-race background.

Michelle's initial story pitch was rejected, but she couldn't get this idea of black and biracial redheads out of her mind. Mostly, she was just curious — as artists often are.

"Portrait photography allows me to study what I like, what I see in others that may be overlooked," she told Upworthy. "I see each portrait as a series of distraction-free frames charged with an authenticity of features, traits, mannerism, quirks, and worth."

Here are just a few of the faces from what became Michelle's "MC1R" photo project, along with a few thoughts from her artist statement:

"I am currently interested in documenting the incidence of the MC1R gene variant responsible for red hair and freckles, particularly amongst black/mixed raced individuals of all ages."

Photo by Michelle Marshall. Used with permission.

"I want to stir the perception that most of us have of a 'ginger' as a white Caucasian individual, potentially of Celtic descent."

Photo by Michelle Marshall. Used with permission.

"Whilst there there may be an underlying Irish/Scottish connection to the MCR1 gene in the occurrence of red hair, does being ginger really still only confine itself to being Scottish, Irish, Welsh, or even a white Caucasian individual?"

Photo by Michelle Marshall. Used with permission.

"As we struggle with issues of immigration, discrimination, and racial prejudice, Mother Nature, meanwhile, follows its own course, embracing society's plurality and, in the process, shaking up our perceptions about origins, ethnicity, and identity."

Photo by Michelle Marshall. Used with permission.

"Scotland may well have the highest percentage of people with red hair in the world, yet statistics haven't really caught up and do not seem to represent everyone."

Photo by Michelle Marshall. Used with permission.

"I wish to create compelling portraits, a visual census representing our constantly changing society."

Photo by Michelle Marshall. Used with permission.

But above all, Michelle's MC1R project is doing what art does best: connecting people.

As Michelle points out in her artist statement, redheads are typically associated with Irish and Scottish peoples of Celtic descent (unlike the rest of the world, a whopping 13% of Scotland is ginger). But sometimes that MC1R mutation can be passed down through generations from people of African or Caribbean descent, a detail that is likely due to the British slave trade under Cromwell (#ThanksColonialism) and has some pretty interesting implications for the ways we qualify race.

"A lot of [my photo subjects] have been feeling quite isolated," Michelle said in an interview with Vice. "I got a message from one boy who said, 'I didn't realize there were so many of us' — I've not even shot 50 people. But the fact that he was able to see a cluster of people that matched his identify and could relate to that is quite positive."

That's why it's so important that we open our eyes and celebrate the diversity in the world. Not only does it encourage us to challenge our own preconceived notions — for example, by showing us that redheads don't have to be white — but it also helps those people see themselves (or helps us see ourselves) represented in the world.

Images provided by Pacifico

Making waves in the best way

True

At last, summer is here. And for many people, that means it's time for heading to the beach and maybe even catching some waves. Surfing is a quintessential summertime activity for those who live in coastal communities—it’s not only really fun and challenging, it’s also a great way to celebrate Mother Nature’s beauty. Even after a wipeout, the cool water mixed with warm sunshine offers a certain kind of euphoria. Or, you know, just hanging back on the sand is plenty fun too. Simply being outdoors near the ocean is its own reward.

pacifico quiksilver beach cleanupLet’s protect the places where outdoor adventure happensAll photos provided by Pacifico

However, it's well known that our beautiful beaches are suffering the consequences of overcrowding, pollution and littering. What was once a way of playing in nature is now slowly destroying it. And of course, this affects beachgoers everywhere. The sad truth is—without taking action to preserve all the natural joys the earth provides, we will eventually lose them.

But there is hope. Two popular brands that both have roots in surf culture have teamed up to help make trips to the beach a more sustainable pastime. The best part? You don’t have to know how to hang ten in order to participate.

Pacifico®, a pilsner-style lager originally brought to the U.S. by surfers, and Quiksilver, an iconic apparel company loved by both surfers and beach goers alike, have created a brand-new range of clothing and accessories with sustainability in mind.

Take a look below. These threads are great for all kinds of fun in the sun, without compromising the environment.

pacifico quicksilver beach cleanupsReady to make some waves

The collection launches on July 5 and includes tees and woven shirts, boardshorts, hats, flip-flops and a special beach towel and tote bag. The unique collaboration features the vibrant, colorful designs that are the hallmark of Quiksilver combined with Pacifico elements, created to make a positive impact.

Each item has been thoughtfully curated to minimize an environmental footprint and protect the outdoors. The hats, for example, are made from NetPlus® by Bureo®, a raw material created from South American recycled fishing nets. Additionally, the board shorts are made from recycled plastic bottles, and tees are made with 100% organic cotton. Pretty rad stuff, to put it in surfer lingo.

The prices on these pieces are equally rad, ranging from $28 flip-flops to $60 boardshorts.

In keeping with the sustainable ethos and protecting the places we play, Pacifico and Quiksilver will celebrate the products’ launch by hosting two beach cleanups. The first is on July 5 at Sunset Point in Malibu, California, from 4-5:30pm, and the second is on July 9th at Deerfield Beach in Florida from 8:30 – 10:30am.

pacifico quicksilver clothing lineCleaning up and looking good while doing it

Theses beach cleanups are open to anyone over the age of 21 who’s ready to have some fun while taking care of nature’s playground.

Those who can’t make it to the beach (bummer, dude) don’t have to miss out on all the fun. The new collection will be available on July 5th at www.quiksilver.com/mens-collab-pacifico. And even if you don’t surf, never plan to surf, have no desire to even be near a surfboard, rest assured, the apparel is still cool. Plus sustainable choices are always good fashion.

Our planet provides us with an endless supply of beauty and adventure. But without more mindful actions from humanity, its natural wonders will eventually diminish. Fortunately Pacifico and Quiksilver are making it easier than ever for people to enjoy the great outdoors without jeopardizing it. That’s a wave worth riding.

This article originally appeared on 09.06.17


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