I was born with bright blonde hair. My dad is blond, but my mom’s Italian family members were so sure their firstborn grandchild would possess their olive skin and black hair that they accused the nurses of bringing out the wrong baby when I made my pale, blonde debut. In my early 20s I had a brief flirtation with the idea of going red (which I’ve since discovered is a common symptom of a quarter life crisis), but other than that I’ve never dreamed of veering away from my (literal) blonde roots. Over the weekend I added some new highlights to amplify my natural color, and it got me thinking about what it means to be a blonde. Pop culture insists blondes have more fun. Millions of women eagerly bleach their hair into oblivion in order to, as Amelia puts it, “chase the blonde dragon.” Hell, I spent two hours and 70 bucks to make my hair blonder than it already was. But contrary to popular belief, the glamorous blonde lifestyle definitely has some downsides. Here are five that come to mind…
1. People think you’re an idiot. I have no idea when or how blonde hair became associated with inferior intelligence, but I can assure you this strange myth is alive and well. It comes in the form of pitying looks, snarky comments like, “Yep, she’s definitely a blonde!”, and offers of assistance that I didn’t need or ask for. I don’t want it to sound like blondes are systematically oppressed or anything, but dealing with the preconceived notion that I’m dumb just because I’m blonde is an annoying waste of time that I’d rather spend reading about theoretical physics.
2. You have to listen to blonde jokes. Here is what I can only assume is the thought process that occurs in the moments before someone proudly tells me a painfully unfunny blonde joke: “Ooh! This woman has yellow-ish hair! Surely she would enjoy hearing about another woman with similarly colored hair who fucked all three legs of an upside down bar stool before she realized it wasn’t a sex toy!” How many annoyed blondes does it take to convince you to stop telling dumb blonde jokes? I don’t have a punchline for that one. I just genuinely want to know.
3. Your hair turns green in chlorine. When I was in junior high my best friend’s parents put in a swimming pool. For the next five years, I spent approximately 70% of my waking hours in that pool, and every summer my hair would transform from glistening gold waves into a dull, sickly greenish yellow frizz ball. Was it worth it? Yes. Was it attractive? No. Did I secretly kind of love it because it made me feel like Anne of Green Gables? Definitely.
4. The shedding, my God, the shedding! It’s a fact that people with lightly pigmented hair have more hairs on their heads than people with darker hair. Does that mean that blondes shed more than other people? Based on the horrifying research I have conducted while trying to unplug the bathtub drain, I’m going to say yes. My boyfriend always knows where to find me, thanks to the Hansel and Gretel-style trails of hair I leave around the house, and he often stares at my consistently voluminous mane in disbelief. “You must literally lose and regrow all of your hair on a daily basis,” he says, before threatening to notify the government that I’m a mutant.
5. You attract a certain kind of attention. I’ve never been a non-blonde (as the term applies to both hair color and 90s rock bands), but friends of mine who have gone from brunette to blonde to black to red and back again tell me that blonde hair attracts a specific kind of attention, especially from men. Blondes are expected to be either pure, angelic virgins or dim, drooling nymphomaniacs. You can imagine how certain men might interact with these archetypes, how they expect you to act in return, and how it can get to be very unpleasant. But hey, what do I know? I’m just a dumb blonde. Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s an overturned bar stool in the corner that’s totally calling my name.