Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Do Blonds Have More Fun?

After you read the post, be sure to read the opinions of my other visitors in the comments section at the end.

“The baby has blond hair and blue eyes!” announced Julia.

The year was 1985 and I can’t remember whose baby was just born. I do remember hearing it along with my friend Stacey. The three of us were in our early to mid twenties. Julia, blond and blue eyed, was recently married. Stacey and I were nowhere close to matrimony, and were not as excited about babies.

When we heard this, I could sense that Stacey felt as I did. We wondered about the significance of the blond hair and blue eyes. Stacey has rich, Hershey colored skin, and mine is close to the color of pecans. The likelihood of either of us having a blond and blue eyed child was slim to none. We couldn’t relate.

I thought, but did not say, “Oh, the light hair and eyes, I guess that’s considered a good thing.”

Because we were young and caught off guard, Stacey and I did not respond to the baby’s looks with an obligatory, “How nice!” Oops.

* * * * *

My early youth was mostly segregated. I saw “white people” on TV, and at stores, but not “next door.” Their skin color was very light, and they either had brown, red, or blond hair. That’s the way I summed it up.

I never gave blond hair much thought, until one day as I was riding the bus going downtown and looked out the window to see the cutest little blond girl. Her hair seemed unique, like a mixture of silver and yellow – metallic – and it glistened under the sun. I was only twelve then, and was fascinated as I stared.

* * * * *

For years, this subject has crept into my mind; in particular, because of the books I read and the various forms of media that mention the word blond - constantly. My current book club novel is loaded with phrases like, “She swept her blond hair out of her eyes,” and “His butterscotch colored hair, sticking straight up,” and "Her beautiful blue eyes gleamed with tears.”

Where did this standard of beauty come from? (If I were better at history, perhaps I’d know for sure.) Is the blond, blue eyed person the most beautiful? Are we taught outright to believe this? It is definitely a subliminal message.

I’ve met so many brown haired Caucasian women who say things like, “I didn’t get the blond hair that my sister got.” On occasion, I see the two sisters together. They have different coloring, but typically, I don’t see one as being more attractive than the other.

Once, a friend (who is Indian) tried to describe another person to me. “Does she have very large blue eyes?” I asked. She responded, “I don’t know what color her eyes are. I don’t notice things like that.”

I was surprised, because the woman’s eyes are huge; but I was also impressed in an odd sort of way. "She hasn’t bought into the 'checklist for physical beauty,'" I thought.

I’ve seen a lot of striking blonds and cute little “towheads” - a term I didn't learn until I was forty years old. I’ve also seen a lot of striking brunettes, red heads, brown eyes, chocolate skin, olive skin, braids, afros, Asian eyes, etc.

I know that all races of people have certain standards of beauty, and if you fit into the category…well, I guess that’s a good thing…maybe? So many people admire your looks; others are envious or jealous. What do you think?

Do you notice the numerous references to blond hair and blue eyes in books and on TV?
“Do” blonds have more fun?
10/26/10 - Should "blond" be spelled with an e? Blonde? After a little research, it appears that blond is for males, and blonde is for females. Someone has suggested that the e be dropped, stating that two spellings is sexist. Hmmm...


Anonymous said...

This is a really serious issue. In the 1700's and 1800's the idea of race (which is not a biological reality, but is a social construction) was created to justify treating groups of people differently based on inconsequential physical characteristics. Related to this was the creation of standards of beauty (as an ideal, and as a stand-in for superiority): created deliberately, in some cases, to justify continued differential treatment of members of certain groups. These absurd standards- pale skin, blond hair, blue eyes, aquiline nose, smooth hair, were deemed to be signs of a "superior" race. These standards were divisive and, as I wrote, used to justify all sorts of discrimination. These standards have become ridiculously exaggerated, as seen in Barbie, but also in the current crop of anorexic fashion models (a size 8 in the fashion industry is considered "obese.") These standards have become woven into our culture, into the lives and identities of each of us. I worry about what these pervasive standards are doing to our kids...and have done to all of us. Wish I had more time to polish this response, but gotta' get back to work-hope it makes sense (sum up: beauty standards started as methods to signify "us" and "other" and are harmful).

Unknown said...

I remember when I was a kid growing up and hearing, "Oh, I love it that she has blonde hair and blue eyes." I always thought that it was something superior in being white.

But Black people tend to look at the race with, "Oh, she's got good hair and light colored eyes."

My ex Boo has green eyes and is very light in complexion BUT that wasn't the reason I was attracted to him. In fact, I got tired of women commenting and flirting with him because of his eyes. He wasn't any more special because of it.

I used to have a friend who had red hair and I loved it. She hated it. Even now, she colors it.

I just don't get it, I guess.

Hilary said...

I remember my college room-mate talking about how a colleague of her was talking about how cute a baby was and then immediately followed it up with how the baby had "blond hair and blue eyes". This was at least 10 years ago and it's stuck with me ever since. I am so conscious of how I describe people. It's ridiculous that beauty must equal blond hair and blue eyes.

I look at my own daughters and have had people say that Morgan (with her gorgeous brown eyes and curly black hair) is smart and Coever (with her curly light brown hair and hazel eyes) is so pretty. Both of my girls are phenomenal and brilliant. Their hair and their eyes didn't make them so -- their father and I did (stepping off my soapbox).

I have a friend with two little girls, the older girl is olive skinned and the younger is just a touch fairer. Both of them have brown hair. The older girl has brown eyes, the younger one has dark green, maybe hazel? Anyway, the mom insists and I mean she is adamant that the younger one is blond. Her hair has some streaks, but anyone else would say that that child is a brunette. Clearly.

The whole thing is ridiculous.

Robin said...

Hell..No..!...The darker the better in my mind..I think dark haired ladies are the most gorgeous,interesting, exciting and mysterious women around...OK yes Im dark haired and wouldnt change a thing ...EVA....and let me tell you I have had a lot of FUN....look at Sofia Vergara, Catherine Zeta Jones, Megan Fox, Salma Hayek...need i go on...and then look at all of the blondes on the Girls next Door...light, plain, simple...pretty yes....but no match to the former...and that goes for guys too..I know Ive had my share of want hot and sexy go for the dark, you want spicy..go for the dark...Im Italian..I should know...BwHahahahahah..!BTW hi ANITA...GREAT TOPIC..!

Anonymous said...

Well, as a Hispanic woman with dark brown hair and eyes, I can tell you I have tons of fun!!

Your post got me thinking about my friends and all the assorted skin/hair's hard for me to wrap my brain around because I don't think in terms of hair, eye, or skin color. It's like taking a step back in time to even wrap my brain around thinking one hair/eye color as being more attractive or fun.

My mom, growing up as a Hispanic female in Texas in the 1930's had to use "separate but equal" bathrooms and water fountains. She also had to ride in the back of buses. In those days, yes, blondes definitely had more fun. But today, no way!

Tracey said...

Wow, this has really stuck a nerve about more than blond being "pretty."

I am white, but have always had dark hair. I used to work in law enforcement with many many men. At one point I "went blond" on a whim. It looked horrible and would have cost me a fortune in upkeep, so I knew as soon as I did it, I would not keep it. But at work, men I had known for years would go out of their way to talk to me. One even asked if I was "new around here." I felt like saying "No, a-hole. I've worked here for three year. Thanks for noticing." But I held my tongue. And had a much lower opinion of those men.

I don't know about he history of the blond thing. I have never been a racial minority. But, I have also never found blond to be that attractive for it's own sake. And strangely, I have no recollection of anyone ever mentioning to me that a baby was bond haired, at all, let alone as if it were some mark of baby goodness. And don't all babies have blue eyes.

But, I have always been thickly built, and was sensitive to remarks made about slender girls. I felt like I was defacto excluded. And it was painful for a long time. Now I am happy in my skin and I don't care. I even let may greys grow.

Oh, and I have three children with three different hair colors. Dark brown, light brown, and dark blond. My daughter is the blond one. I was kida disappointed, to be honest. I didn't want a blond daughter. What does that say?

People Who Know Me Would Say: said...

This is a stereotype begun by the white anglo saxons that settled the USA and perpetuated by the media...and society as a whole because there are a lot of lemmings out there...especially the male of the species.

I liken it to granite ocunter tops. They're so 'desireable' and 'sought after'. Everyone thinks they need to have them.

My reaction is, "Really? Just because everyone is doing it, you have to also? Poor you!"

Fun people have more fun, regardless of hair color. Beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, skin tones, etc.

You post some great stuff, Anita!!

SuziCate said...

I don't know if blondes have more fun or not! Having dark hair and hazel eyes and looking from the outside in, I see the media portraying them as such! I'm sure at one time or another I probably wanted to be blonde...but not anymore! Barbie, in general promotes so a stereotype of the "perfect woman" that few can ever achieve...I am surprised that the standards have not changed. I know years ago they said they cahnged them, but seriously, the changes were apparently quite subtle. I never noticed a difference.

CeCe Wilson said...

Wow Anita. Thank you for sharing this one! :0) As I read your post, you reminded me of the time Chris Rock was on Oprah endorsing his movie and he made the point that in the same way black women are always trying to achieve some semblance of the Caucasian "idea" (it's just an idea) of beauty, even a lot of Caucasian women are trying to ascribe to that standard. He called out an entire row of women with blonde hair and said that none of them were true blondes and it was more than likely true because no one really protested. For me, it opened up a whole 'nother can of worms in that women (of all ethnicities) and people as a whole in this country are lost when it comes to truly loving and accepting ourselves for who we are and how we are made. There is always something we want to change about ourselves to get "noticed" or accepted. We're constantly being fed foolishness by people who could give a plug nickle whether or not we are pretty. They just want our money and our loyalty to giving them our money. Another thought on this is that we never really know whether or not other people are befriending us because of our "assets" or because of who we are (as people) and I think it keeps us insecure when we buy into the "idea".

yonca said...

I'm not blond and don't have blue eyes but I feel like I'm fun too:)xo

Rebecca S. said...

Once for Halloween I dressed up as Grace McCarthy, who was a local Conservative politian that everyone loved to hate. I padded my bra so I'd have a large chest and put on a blonde wig. I wore a long sparkly dress and lots of makeup. I thought I looked hilariously funny, but was shocked that when I got to the party I was going to, I was asked to dance several times. A lot of the men knew me but even the idea that I might be blonde and chesty got them excited. It was a bit of an eye opener, for sure.
I have three blonde children, two with blue eyes (the boys) and one with brown (a girl) but I've never heard anyone say anything particular about it, or not in a way that indicates they are special for these features. I've never focussed on it, but I do remember envying my sister who has long, wavy golden hair (mine is brown, straight, and very fine). When she travelled in Australia in the mid eighties, she had to chop it all off because the men wouldn't leave her alone.
I grew up with a mom who didn't have much time for Barbie. She called her Boobie. I always thought the Barbies of colour were prettier anyway, and I feel that way about the general pallette of the world.
Thanks for an interesting topic (again!)

Nakamuras on Saipan said...

I think people make too much of "color". I have always lived in such a multicultural environment that I never really understood being prejudice because of "color". It's ridiculous to me. And to say one "color" is more beautiful than another color ?? I don't get that at all. Take a look at some of my "family" pictures and you will see the huge diversity just within my own family. All I see is family.They are all beautiful to me. My community here is a "stew" of so many different's wonderful. There are more mixed marriages here than I see other places too-and the children from these marriages are beautiful. I really think that in this day and age we need to let this issue go!

Nakamuras on Saipan said...

P.S.-I am blond..but I never really understood what "blonds have more fun" was supposed to mean? I always that was a ridiculous thing to say.I guess maybe I am naive about certain western beliefs.

Just Two Chicks said...

Okay, I haven't really noticed all of the blond haired/blue eyed people in a long while UNTIL I read your blog.:) Usually I would notice only when the eyes or hair were particularly striking, but that would go for any color of eyes or hair. I think blonds, overall get a bad wrap due to the air-headed issue (I've been asked if I am naturally blond simply because I'm a bit scattered at times ...hmpphh). I remember my step-dad telling me how bad the skin heads were in England when we lived there. He was warning me not to give them any notice because they believed that blond haired/ blue eyed people were the superior race because the skin heads felt they were "pure." I wondered what made them pure, but being so young I never questioned it. Since coming back to America, I've taken to calling myself and most other Americans mutts... because most of us are a combination of so many different cultures and that's a good thing! It's my opinion that mutts are the most loveable! :) said...

I was born with very blonde hair and blue eyes, as well as my 5 siblings. My mom was a brunette.

Do I think that blonde and blue eyes are better than other? No, I can say that is not my value.

(If I had a choice, I would not have fair skin. It has been hard for me to have my skin. Sun is downright dangerous for me and I am already starting with pre-cancerous problems.)

I thank God for my parents...they did not look at people according to their physical differences. I consider it a blessing. I also have the same sensibility and teach my children as my parents taught me.

When I lived in Hawaii, I learned the difficulty of being judged by the color of my skin and hair. It was painful. It did not anger me. It made me sad. It humbled me to feel as so many do throughout the world.

I love people. We are all God's creation.

I don't want to be judged by the color of my skin or my hair...just as I do not judge others.

I appreciate your post.


nick said...

"Do blonds have more fun?"
Yes, but they can't remember any of it.

Anita said...

Should I have spelled blond with an e? Blonde?

After a little research, it appears that blond is for males and blonde is for females.

Abby said...

There were a lot of hispanics and dark-haired Italians in the town where I grew up, so the few blond(e)s really stood out. And not in a good way.

Being a dark-skinned, dark-haired girl myself, I've always been happy with my coloring. Probably because I get it from my mom - and she's super fun!

One Photo said...

I think true beauty lies within. That said, in terms of outer beauty there is no "best" model. There are stunning blondes, red heads, brunettes and every combination therein.

Tammy @BeatriceBanks said...

Thanks for leaving me a sweet comment today Anita.
Guess I overlooked this post, maybe b/c I'm not blonde! I have 3 children, a redhead, brunette and blonde. I'd say out of the 3, the redhead has more fun and gets the most attention. There are so many people who dye their hair blonde, I guess they have bought into this idea. To veer off the subject a bit, someone once told me light hair/skin people prefer lighter color home decor while darker hair/skin people prefer darker colors in their homes. I've always wondered if it was true or not.
I like how you post about random crazy thoughts we all have.

SuziCate said...

This is in reply to Tammy's thought about people's colors in their homes. I have pale skin with dark hair...walls in my house are all painted mid to dark tones with the exception of one bathroom that hubby did NOT buy the shade as dark as I requested, and I do NOT like it. I find the dark tones in the house warm, invitng, and comfortable. Don't know that it has anything to do with my hair or skin but everything to do with my soul.

Buckeroomama said...

I think the whole idea that blond is somehow better-looking, have more fun, etc. is primarily exacerbated by images in the media.

Z showed me a drawing she made of herself --and she had yellow hair! I asked her why (she has dark brown hair) and she told me, "because it's pretty." =S

Jen said...

Redheads have the most fun.

Georgiana Daniels said...

You know, it does kind of annoy me to hear that/read about blondes being the standard for beauty or the ideal.

Besides, I have dark hair and I have loads of fun :D

LC said...

It is so easy to pass damaging messages along to our little ones. Each individual is a unique and valued being. One of our granddaughters has dark-brown hair and brown eyes. Her mom's niece is a few months younger with blonde hair and blue eyes. The pair of two year olds love to play together and the contrast in coloring creates a dramatic and delightful tableau. I hope no one ever makes either of these confident little girls diminished because of physical characteristics. Having said that, hypocrite that I evidently am, I laughed at Nick's comment.

Midlife Roadtripper said...

This post certainly generated great comments. Blonde and blue-eyed. I don't think blondes have more fun, but I think many men think they'll have more fun with one of them.

Rather poor comment in comparison to those who replied with more thought.

Mrs Catch said...

What interesting comments. The way I've always thought about it is that unusual or rare colouring stands out. I saw some Sudanese people the other day and their (very very dark) beauty is mesmerizing.

Unknown said...

Fascinating! Our culture does put so much emphasis on looks. It would be better if the emphasis was on brains!

Julie Magers Soulen Photography

Tammy @BeatriceBanks said...

Just stopping back by to say thank you so much for following my new blog. I appreciate it. Your name has been entered in the giveaway.
Have a great weekend!

Stephanie said...

Another thoughtful post
I'm a blonde with green eyes. I have 2 daughters one with dark hair and blue eyes, the other a carbon copy of me. I think they are gorgeous...just as I think there friends with dark or olive skin are. True beauty comes from that special kind of glow from within!
I would say blondes do not have more fun...just end up being the butt of more blonde jokes:)

Sohailah said...

SO interesting. As a person of "Middle Eastern descent", I did NOT fit in growing up in Minnesota. I didn't really "get it" until years later. I didn't realize that people "looked" different - and I certainly didn't know that there was a "considered difference".

I have struggled with feeling like I wasn't "pretty enough, etc", however, I now realize that TRULY beauty is what is reflected from the inside.

And, as far as I'm concerned, SILVERS have more fun! (Don't think THAT wasn't a struggle - choosing to stop coloring was HUGE... people thought I was crazy. But, I'm really glad I did)

Priya Shankar said...

Thank you SO Much for posting this. I have been wanting to write a post for the longest time about complexion- fair skin vs. dark skin. In so many cultures, including Indian culture and American too, there is this emphasis on having fair skin- it's a sign of superiority, greater beauty... almost a continuation of colonialism is some ways. Wow. We totally do share similar curiosities. There is something wrong with a society that keeps perpetuating certain images as beautiful.