Monday, August 30, 2010
Fade To Black
For 26 years, I had been a blonde. A bubbly, voluptuous bombshell, let’s say (ha!). On the eve of my 27th birthday, I dyed my platinum hair raven black. Soon after, I began to realize that what I had done was not only an aesthetic modification, but a social adaptation as well. Who has two thumbs and loves social experiments? This girl.
While I’ve heard testimonials from similarly-morphed women that their friends and family opined strongly (and negatively) on the subject, everyone in my immediate circles, both men and women, were supportive and positive. Whether or not they actually believe that it suits me or they’re being kind, I’m just going to take the compliment naively! They knew me as a blonde, and they know me as a brunette now, but I’m still the same person and that’s the only thing that has changed.
Ah, but perhaps not the only thing. Now, with people who never knew me as a blonde, I have found a marked difference in my social interactions. And having had no metric of comparison for the first 26 years of my life, the variation only became notable when I, now a brunette, was asked the question: “So what’s it like with guys now that you’re no longer blonde?”
Yeah, what is it like with guys? I hadn’t thought about it. We’ve all heard that gentlemen prefer blondes (and for the sake of argument, I’m going to lump all men in the ‘gentlemen’ category, even though rifling through my ghosts of exes past reveals no regular superior standard of conduct), but having been a blonde my entire life I wasn’t sure if that was true or not. An experiment looms.
Stand back, I’m about to do science!
To determine if blondes really do have more fun.
If gentlemen prefer blondes, then brunettes get the short end of the [Freudian slip].
Feminine wiles and a box of Garnier Nutrisse.
Control: Blonde hair.
Test: Black hair.
Let me back up. Biologically speaking, men tend to have darker hair than women. It could be argued that men prefer women with fairer and therefore more feminine hair because attractiveness has been contextualized in terms of gender. Similarly, as a sub-clause of beauty is youth, another point for the Blonde Squad could be that blonde hair often darkens as people age. It’s not surprising, then, that such an experiment could be based on evolutionary theory. To test this, all that needed to happen was to revisit my relations with men once as a blonde, now as a brunette. The same bars, the same clothes, the same jokes, the same fabulous posse. Granted, they weren’t the same guys and they weren’t the same nights, but hey, I’m no scientician.
The type of guy I tended to attract as a blonde was the typical dude – liked sports, cars, beer, women, and probably blasted Alt-Rock from the speakers of his Jeep. Nice dudes, good intentions for the most part. I fell in love with some of them, and was lucky enough to be loved in return sometimes too. But, obviously, relationships ended and people moved on. And if I review them with complete disregard to any complications therein (and it’s my blog so I can do that with no comments from the peanut gallery, thank you very much), reducing it to base needs/wants reveals that what was lacking was some sort of edge. I just never would have guessed that the one lacking it was me.
In researching this topic (nerd alert), I came across one study hypothesizing that blondes are more aggressive ‘due to constantly being harassed’. As a blonde, there are so many tired generalizations to be experienced, however peripherally. The dumb thing, the man-eater thing, the sticky slut thing... I hadn’t realized I was being pigeon-holed with every move I made, but I see now by its absence that when I was blonde I was evaluated on these things solely because of my hair color. Furthermore, I was probably responding to that sort of contact and judgment with aggression. Form of: vehement rejection. Cat-call me? Fuck off. Lovely.
Now, both men and women treat me with much more respect. Women approach me more, and with a smile instead of the hostile air of feeling intimidated. Men look me in the eye instead of 12 inches lower; they open with a non-sexual comment instead of the lewd remarks to which I had grown accustomed. As a brunette, there are now presumptions that I might be intelligent, I might not steal your boyfriend, and I might not put out on the first date (I said ‘might’). And it’s not that the cat-calls are gone. With similar frequency, now those sorts of comments have an air of deference: I hear ‘You’re beautiful,’ and my response is a much more likable Thank you. My new-found edge is that I’m much more appealing, even to myself.
Whoa now, what just happened? All of a sudden this is a personal op-ed piece? What happened to measurable science? Well, friends, life just isn’t as easy as 3.14159265... We’re social animals, us humans. We act, we react, we interact. If I, as a blonde, felt like a piece of meat, I don’t as a brunette. And so my own poise is affected thusly. A chicken/egg argument, perhaps, but I sincerely feel as though the ‘respect’ came first. I continue to attract men in no smaller numbers, albeit a new type of man. Goodbye to Civics and popped collars; hello to tats and [gasp!] conversation. And so, I must conclude that my hypothesis was wrong.
Gentlemen, in fact, do not prefer blondes, and brunettes have way more fun.
Besides, a fair complexion is a recessive allele in the inherited genotype. I may be faking being a brunette, but I certainly feel preeminent.
(Credit where credit is due: many facts in this experiment were taken from my memories of university lectures. And, of course, Wikipedia. Photo from: http://myhairisemo.blogspot.com/2009/11/dye-black-hair-blonde.html. Thanks, Internet.)