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?
A London-based photographer is opening eyes by turning her camera lens on black and biracial redheads.
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."
"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?"
"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."
But above all, Michelle's MC1R project is doing what art does best: connecting people.
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.