Scarlett fever: why Black Widow has sparked a trend for red hair

If you happen to see an unusually large number of women with red hair today, do not be alarmed. We haven’t been invaded by vikings again, nor is there a Nicola from Girls Aloud convention happening in your vicinity. There is a perfectly reasonable explanation for the sudden outbreak of redheads, and it is that Black Widow was recently released.

According to the website Justmylook, there has been a 163% spike in demand for the colour since the release of Black Widow, presumably because lots of people sat through two hours and 14 minutes of a film about a woman grappling with the psychological torment of knowing she was part of a Soviet military programme that brainwashed, sterilised and murdered hundreds of abandoned girls, only to think: “Ooh, I bet I’d look lovely with her hair.”

In truth, that’s the extent of this news story. There was a film, people saw the film, then they copied a haircut from the film. That’s it. But it’s weird that this never happened with any previous Marvel films, isn’t it? It’s weird nobody sent out a press release telling us that people were so inspired by The Incredible Hulk that sales of ragged purple trousers shot up by 1,000% in the weeks after its release. It’s strange that there wasn’t a noticeable uptick in the number of men with fussy little goatee beards shortly after Iron Man came out. It’s odd that, in the immediate aftermath of Ant-Man, we weren’t deluged with stories about people stripping the shelves of whatever nondescript clothes Paul Rudd happens to wear in that film.

What could possibly be different about Black Widow? It could be that audiences are relieved Natasha Romanoff has nice hair in this film, because it is set before the events of Avengers: Endgame, wherein half of the planet’s hairdressers were snapped into dust by a vengeful bald alien. It could be because we know Romanoff perishes in search of the Soul Stone, and people are adopting her hair as a way of preserving her legacy. Then again, maybe it could be something else.

There’s a great compilation video on YouTube in which Scarlett Johansson suffers through question after insulting question posed to her by journalists about Black Widow’s appearance. Her co-stars are asked about stunts and character motivation, and she is asked what food she had to eat to get in shape. How does it feel to be a sex symbol? What are Black Widow’s key fashion elements? Does she wear knickers under her jumpsuit? Perhaps this latest news, that the main thing audiences are taking from Black Widow is her lovely shiny hair, is an extension of that same trend.

Maybe we need to explore this further. Have people tracked down the brand of makeup Johansson wore in the scene where she falls off a roof and bashes her body into an agonising state of disrepair? Have sales of photogenic yet utterly impractical leather jumpsuits shot up as well, along with a corresponding surge in talcum powder? Are more and more women having their necks surgically dislocated so they can pose for photos while simultaneously displaying their bum, boobs and face like Black Widow did in that first Avengers poster?

There’s a chance I’m overthinking this. Then again, there’s a chance I’m really not. Still, regardless of how it shows Hollywood’s endemic sexism, at least we all know that 163% more people have dyed red hair than before Black Widow came out. That’s something, right?

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