Future Reflections Special Issue, Vol. 14 No. 2



by Doris M. Willoughby

The teacher says, "Here's the red finger paint." Your grandfather says the barn is red. Mary says her hair is red. Are these people talking about the same color?

There are a lot of different kinds of red. Red finger paint is usually bright red. But if your grandfather paints the barn, it might be dark red. Dark red means there was some black mixed in, so the red doesn't look quite the same.

And what about Mary's hair? People's natural hair color would not be like red paint. The color of red hair is really more reddish-brown.

Does the idea of different kinds of red seem funny to you? There are lots of things like that. Think about music for instance. Think about the song, Happy Birthday. You may hear it played on the piano, and then played on a flute. You may hear a little girl sing it. Then you may hear a grown-up man sing it. It would sound different each time. But every time it would still be the Happy Birthday song, wouldn't it?

It's much like that with colors. When we talk about crayons or paints we mean one thing. When we talk about the color of a person's hair or skin, the color words mean something a little different.

Now here's another question. If your mom says that your friend Mary is a "redhead," what does that mean? Maybe you think that it means Mary's face is red. But that's not what it means. A redhead is someone with red hair.

There are some other words that tell about people's hair color. Here is a list:

Redhead--red hair
Towhead--very light hair. This word is usually used for children.
Blonde--yellowish or very light brown hair.
Brunette--dark hair. This word is usually used when talking about a woman. It means dark brown hair.

Of course, many times we just say, "He has light brown hair," or "She has red hair." But sometimes people use the words in this list. It is nice to know what they mean.

Can people's natural hair be just any color? No. It can just be these colors: black, red, brown, yellow, white, or gray.

Remember, there are other words which mean these hair colors too. Of course, sometimes people dye their hair. Dyed hair can be almost any color, including blue! But most people who dye their hair want a color that is a natural hair color.