"As the only woman I know who has made it into her 40s with a natural head of golden locks, it's maddening to read about bottle-blondes whose only wish is that people see beyond the (unnatural) colour of their hair."
Mariella Frostrup's started a mini-furor when she gave an interview complaining that her blond hair caused people to dismiss her, and saying she regretted going blond at 16. Frostrup, who's presenting a BBC series called "Blonde on Blonde," declared that "Being blonde means never saying you don't understand unless you want to be predictable. Being blonde means always trying to tell the blonde joke first...Female stereotyping has changed little in the last seven decades... In blonde world whether you're a brain surgeon a lap dancer or an oligarch's wife, it's all the same."
I have some sympathy for her view. I remember, when single, meeting a man in a bar who jokingly ticked off "blonde hair" as if he was ticking off a list of attributes he might want in a car (we didn't make it to a second date). And in a brief, ill-advised period of being platinum blonde (Annie Lennox has a lot to answer for) I found I did generate an awful lot of attention – and some opinions – that I didn't want. I could see even then that going blonde is a statement in itself: it demands to be seen, and it is hence hard for onlookers to see beyond it. It was a relief to return to a more natural hue...But her argument just doesn't stack up. For a start it is impossible to lump all "blondes" together. Can we really bracket the public's reaction to Samantha Fox and Professor Susan Greenfield? Can we really say that Goldie Hawn gets the same reception as Margaret Thatcher? Being blonde in itself does not cause people to assume you are ditsy, or diminish your intellectual stature, even in the world of entertainment. It is what you do with it that counts.
My gripe is with women who dye their hair and then moan about stereotyping. Who are they trying to kid? Their objections sound as ridiculous to us natural blondes as someone blacking up and then seeking sympathy over claims of racial discrimination.
Leaving aside the (offensive) irrationality of this comparison, it seems to ignore the fact that no woman should be stereotyped or maltreated based on her hair-color choices. Reaction is one thing; entrenched discrimination quite another. Then she talks about the rarity of her naturally light tresses:
Natural yellow hair shades are found in only two per cent of the world's population. And while blonde hair is more common among children, only a tiny proportion stay that colour into adulthood. So few of us now carry the magic gene that natural blondes have become an endangered species, predicted to be extinct within 200 years.
And, what's more, bottle-blondes are endangering them!
But now the peroxide sisterhood are driving us natural blondes to extinction. ‘Artificial blondes tend to be blonder and more attractive to men,' says a spokesman for the World Health Organisation, explaining the fall in numbers of ‘naturals.' This could mean more and more men are selecting them as partners over their naturally blonde peers.' This, in turn, means that the blonde gene doesn't get passed on and, therefore, we naturals will have been entirely eclipsed by the bottle brigade. So do us a favour, you mousey copycats. Go back to your natural shades and leave us blondies alone. And if you really are dyeing to be like us, then at least stop bleating about the bleaching side-effect
While there's a lot to be said about why blond hair has remained a standard of feminine beauty and a veritable embodiment of the virgin/whore complex, I wouldn't say this addresses any of it. Rather, if the author's goal was to rehabilitate the "natural" blond and speak for them all as rational and intelligent beings, I'd suggest they get another mouthpiece who's a wee bit less invested in some vague notion of purity. And on the subject of blonds - natural or otherwise - as in so many things, let's give Dolly Parton the last word.
No Dumb Blonde [SKY]
What's Up, Blondie? [Telegraph]
The Only Dumb Blondes I've Met Are The Peroxide Ones Like You, Mariella! [Daily Mail]