Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I've made a terrible mistake...

So, my hair was pretty blonde for a while there. Pretty damn blonde. As in, I'd look in the mirror, and occasionally think to myself, "Gee, is it really that light? Is that really what's happening here? I'm really doing it, aren't I? I'm really, truly, shamelessly blonde." (And somewhere in the back of my mind, an insidious voice would whisper..."Don't you think you look trashy?")

Last time I saw Jason in July, he was very bold with my color. He told me "you're not going to believe this, but we're going lighter." He said he couldn't believe it himself, but that we were taking a risk, a risk he'd ONLY take with me because ONLY I could work hair that light, and well, I'm writing a goddamn book on being blonde, aren't I? So, we went for it. Bold was what we did. And when the smock came off and the hair was blown out, there I sat the blondest I'd been since I was a little girl. I was the same shade of blonde as my four year-old niece. And suddenly, I was a blonde who wasn't even pretending to be natural. My long goldie locks were just one small step away from platinum, and that was what it all was about.

Now, I trust Jason implicitly. I really do. He is amazing, and I highly endorse his services. If you go to see him, you will never leave his salon looking bad. So, when he caught sight of me while walking down the street one day, and a look of surprise and a mild shadow of concern flitted across his face like a small cloud traversing the sun, I was appropriately worried.

"What?!" I said. "What was that look??? You don't like the hair, do you. Oh my god, do you think it looks trashy?!?!?"

"No, sweetie," he said, his voice the same calm timbre as that of my therapist. "You? Never. You will never look trashy, even if you are wearing a trash bag and a pair of Candies loafers. should come see me next week. I have the morning free all week, you can just call me and come in when you have a second, and we'll have a nice, leisurely morning together. Sound good?" He made it sounds social, like all we'd be doing was a minor touch up while spending some quality stylist-subject time at the sink over coffee and the latest 700-page issue of Vogue.

So I went in. I followed his instructions, because Jason is my darling, and because he would never do wrong by me.

Except now, after our nice, leisurely morning together over coffee & the latest 700-page issue of Vogue, my hair seems...darker. And I am in a mild state of panic.

Jason swore up and down as I was leaving the salon that it was not, in fact darker, rather, he'd added more depth to the color, infused it with more gold, given me a more natural, sun-kissed look, as opposed to the all-over, almost platinum he'd he'd faded me to in July. "I'm only doing this because it's you, honey. I wouldn't do this with just anybody, because not everyone can rock gold. I'd only ever do this with you."

But to me, it looks darker. Everyone I ask smiles, says it "looks good!" and "looks really pretty, I LIKE it!" But I know in my heart what is true, and that is that, no matter what everybody says, my hair looks darker than it did before.

Here is a before picture:

And here, my friends, is the after picture:

Yes it look more natural, but herein lies the lesson of the story: I know now that I do not want to be natural. Natural left the equation some time ago. Maybe once upon a time I sought to look like a natural blonde, before I undertook this stupid project, back when I was still a nubile young highlight virgin, hoping no one would accuse me of being some sort of blonde poser since I'd taken up the peroxide.

Well, the cherry's been popped, folks, and those days are long gone.

I'll tell you what I want now: I want my hair to be the same almost fluorescent shade of flaxen that it was just a week ago. I want it to be as unnaturally light as the hair of the girl on the bus this morning, and the woman in the grocery store this afternoon, or my little niece Caelan and her baby brother Griffen, and the blonde heads I am beginning to see everywhere I turn. What was I thinking? If those harlots don't care about looking trashy, why the hell should I?

There is only room for blonde on this head. The gauntlet has been thrown down, and for the duration of this experiment, the only way out is up the color scale. Blonde baby. Blonde.

And I am very upset about what to do next because now I am also kind of broke.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

blonde lesbian

Yesterday, for the very first time in my whole entire life, I was mistaken as a lesbian.

Why this happened yesterday of all days has me completely baffled. I mean, I spent four years at "Queer in a Year or Your Money Back" Sarah Lawrence. I know tons of lesbians (some of my best friends are lesbians!) and have spent plenty of time with/among lesbians. In college I took women's Studies courses, every goddamn paper I ever wrote was about gender & stuff, and even spent a semester learning about the cannon of Gay & Lesbian Literature. I visited the lesbian bar, drank chamomile tea at the lesbian coffeeshop, marched in Boston's Gay Pride parade, and in my Sarah Lawrence days, I even adopted some lesbianic aphorisms, including making reference to straight people as "hets" and "breeders." And despite all of this, I still was never once mistaken for actually being a lesbian.

Yesterday, however, while sitting outside JP Licks located in the very lesbianic center of Jamaica Plain (commonly referred to as Gay P) a man approached me and my friend Jen as we chatted over coffee. We were quite clearly engrossed in our conversation--I hadn't seen the girl in over a year!--and in my opinion, we were quite clearly uninterested in making “friends.” Mr. Intrusive Straight Man decided to interrupt us anyway.

“Excuse me, may I ask you a question?” Mr. Intrusive Straight Man said. He had walked right up to Jen where we sat at a patio table, close to the entrance of the store and far away from where he was standing on the sidewalk . He didn't really look at me, and I couldn't really hear what he was saying. Perhaps Jen, who is about the cutest baby-dyke you ever saw, seemed more approachable. She sports a short faux hawk and is always riding her bike all over the place--she looks like a cute, indie-rock little boy. In any case, the Mr. Intrusive Straight Man was black and he wore a red shirt, and had some sort of accent. His English was broken and strangely proper, and I at first, I couldn’t really understand what he was saying.

"I want to ask of you a question," Mr. Intrusive Straight Man said, hemming and hawing, a bit.
"Okay," said Jen. When he still didn't respond, she rolled her eye and said to me, "Ugh, I think I know where this is going."

"I just want to ask you a question if I may," Mr. Intrusive Straight Man repeated.

"Yes, that's fine, dude, go ahead," she said.

"I want to ask you, what is it that you feel as love between two women?"

My jaw dropped. What? "Is he asking us why we're lesbians?" I said to Jen, incredulous.

"I think so," she laughed, her face exploding into a smile as she leaned back and started clapping her hands because this was so funny. That's the other thing about Jen, she's so laid back and cool. "I get this shit all the time, Kitty, it's okay, let me handle this."

"I just want to ask, when there are two women, what is it that they feel between them?" He just kept asking the same question, over and over, repeating himself in his confusing English. At first his stumbling sentences sounded innocent, but then they began sound mocking. There was something about his tone, his posture, his implication that I didn't like. It made me feel uncomfortable, and my gut was telling me to make him go away as quickly as possible, that if we didn't end the conversation immediately, he was either going to a) try to turn us straight, or b) start talking about Jesus. Or maybe something worse.

"Okay. That's enough. We're busy," I said. "Can you please leave us alone now? We're trying to have a conversation here."” I gave him attitude, lots of mean, lesbian attitude.

And he just kept standing there, stammering on at us, like we were exotic and slightly frightening creatures at the zoo.

"I just want to know, what is it that you feel between two women. I just wanted to ask you a question..." he repeated, this time acting a little huffy, as though he really wanted to know, and had every right to ask and be curious.

"Yeah, well you're gonna have to ask somebody else," I said. "Don't worry, there are plenty of lesbians in JP, I'm sure you'll have no problem."

It was really fucking annoying, I have to say.

I hear comments from men every day. Some days are worse than others, and some days, if I happen to be walking out and about a lot, and it happens to be warm, and I happen to be wearing my long blonde hair down and a short little skirt, I hear comments all day. These comments are are invasive, intrusive, and they make me feel vulnerable and angry. They nibble away at my self confidence, erode my freedom of motion, and make me feel as small as I did the very first time I was sexually harassed when I was only fifteen years old. And for the past year or so, I have been analyzing this state of being, this strange and uncomfortable existence, thinking constantly about how being blonde changes these dynamics, makes the comments worse or more intrusive, less respectful or more frightening.

But I have never dealt with intrusion or comments like these.

As he walked away, he mumbled something about writing a book (yeah, I am too, buddy), acted like we were making a big deal out of nothing for blowing him off. But it was a big deal. It was a big, invasive, inappropriate deal. Why anybody would think it okay to interrupt us, and ask us what it feels like to love one another, as though we were freaks, as though there arenÂ’t thousands of lesbians loving one another every day, in the exact same way that men love women, or that men love other men, is wildly inappropriate, and 100% none of his goddamn business. And I didn't like his tone. He had the same look on his face that men get after you ignore their calls of"hey sexy", and right before they say "hey you stuck-up bitch, who the fuck do you think you are???"

And I'm not even a lesbian, I was just having coffee with one! Imagine how I'd feel if this happened to me every day?

Perhaps the next title of my next book should be Undercover Dyke: My Personal Quest to See if Lesbians Have More Fun.

Monday, August 28, 2006

the blonde of the week: Aphrodite

Welcome to the Blonde of the Week, the first installment of a new, exciting addition to the Undercover Blonde blog.

This feature will differ from all other posts that you are likely to read on this site. It will not take you deep inside the inner-workings of the Undercover Blonde brain, discussing the minutiae of my blonde existence. It will not detail the ebb and flow of my self-esteem as I press on with this project, or the toll that my social experiment with blonding has taken on my psyche. Instead, this post will scale back a bit, offering a moment’s respite in honor of (and in some cases, to introduce you to) significant blondes that have left their luminescent impression on the world.

Without further ado, it is my pleasure to introduce you to the Blonde of the Week. This last week of August 2006 we'll be celebrating Aphrodite, the ancient Greek goddess who was in many ways the Original Blonde (if it didn’t sound totally retarded, we could call her the O.B.

Aphrodite was the Goddess of Love, Beauty, and Sexual Rapture. “She was tall, voluptuous, magnificent, with translucent skin as smooth as the surface of oil, and the graceful, ample nakedness of pure pleasure,” writes blonde scholar Joanna Pitman in her foremost work on the topic, On Blondes. Here Pitman describes Aphrodite as she was imagined in the form of the worship inducing statue, Aphrodite of Knidos, sculpted of Parian marble and tinted with gold by Praxiteles in 360 B.C. Aprhodite was the “universal blonde, the world’s original model of sexual fantasy and power.” Aphrodite was celebrated all over Greece with her own festival, the Aphrodisiac, and in Corinth, sex with one of her priestesses was considered a method of worshipping the stone-cold fox Goddess of Love.

Aphrodite was also something of a handful. Afraid that her beauty would be too much for the other Gods, and would cause violence and bloodshed over her attentions & affection, Zeus married her off to Hephaestus, the hard-working, steady God of blacksmiths, smithing, metalwork, etc. She was frequently unfaithful to him, and preferred to mess around with his brother Ares, the God of War (who can blame her, we all have our “bad boy” phase) among others of both the Godly and Mortal persuasion. She was also the originator of that little 10 year-long spat, the Trojan War.

Aphrodite, with her long, flowing blonde locks and her smooth, milky, hairless skin (we can also thank Aphrodite for popularizing the bikini wax) so inflamed the passion and desires of ancient Greek men, that prostitutes began to mimic her on earth. Greek women employed in the world’s oldest profession went to extraordinary lengths to dye their dark Mediterranean locks blonde, all in an effort to drum up business. Peroxide had not been invented yet, but these ambitious women were resourceful, and found ways to turn their brown hair blonde. They rubbed dye containing saffron into their hair, painted blonde highlights onto their hair with colored powders, set their curls with yellow muds. For really big customers, wigs purchased from far-off northern lands at considerable expense were employed.

I think of Aphrodite often since I first read up on her. I think of her when calling up Giacomo and Rondi, to schedule a bikini wax (Rhonda is amazing, by the way, if anyone is looking for a new aesthetician.) I think of her when I waltz into Liquid, and take my seat in Jason’s chair at the color table. Sometimes, when I’m walking to the T, trying to ignore the leering stares of the men I pass, and pretend their catcalls and hisses and whistles aren’t happening, I think of Aprhodite. With her in mind, all of this seems less intimidating, and somehow, less arbitrary. It’s as though all of us are paying tribute, in our own small way, taking part in a daily worship of Aphrodite, the ancient Greek Goddess of Love.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

ecoutez les etoiles

I check my horoscope every single day. Yes. Every day. It's true. I, Kitty, an intelligent, Sarah Lawrence educated, savvy, worldly young woman of the 21st century, have the Virgo page of bookmarked on both my work and home computers, and check my horoscope every goddamn day.

Say what you will, that it's silly, vague, made-up bullshit, written to make foolish people feel better about the fact that we have no real control over our lives. But I love it. Every day when I read my horoscope I feel that much savvier, that much more in tune with the universe. And it starts off each day with a breathless touch of anticipation: after reading, I know what the world has in store for me, and I can't wait to see how the next 24 hours unfold.

The other day, Wednesday, August 9th, this is what the stars had to say to me:

Tackle an activity that scares you. Sign up for SCUBA certification. Go surfing. Volunteer to speak at a high school for career day. Walking straight up to your fear vanquishes it and stimulates your brain in new ways.

And this, my friends, is exactly what I did:

Last Wednesday, for the first time in ten months, I saw my Ex. The Ex. As in, my Ex-fiancee, the Ex-future-Mr. Kitty.

Somehow, despite the fact that Boston is a tiny, tiny city, and despite the fact the we still both go drink at the same tiny South End bars, dine at the same cliquey Tremont and Washington Street restaurants, and hang out with many of the same friends we had when we were a couple, I have managed to avoid running into the Ex for no less than ten months--with very little effort on my own behalf.

It's not that I did not hear about him. In fact, I knew all about the goings-on of the Ex's life: I knew where he was hanging out, I knew who he was dating, I knew who she hangs out with, I knew how they met, and I was even among the first to know when he got engaged. I found out before several of his closest friends, and probably before some of his immediate family. But somehow, by some very forgiving twist of fate, I never once ran into the man that used to be my future husband. Not once.

And let me tell you, as I made my way over to the anonymous Back Bay coffeeshop I'd suggested for our meeting, I was terrified. My palms were sweating as I walked to over to Boston's very toursity, very Euro Newbury Street, chosen for it's neutrality (and lack of alcoholic beverages.) I'd never been to that coffeeshop before, and will probably never go there again.

My outfit (new trouser-style Sevens, kitten heels, brown lace shirt with a low neckline, tan clutch) had been chosen with great care, my make-up applied meticulously, and my hair styled into soft, smooth waves, so as to accentuate the blondeness. All to emphasizing the difference a year makes.

Curiously, I heard no comments from lecherous passersby as I wove my way through the South End streets to our meeting. This had me a bit worried: I mean, I usually can't walk across the street to buy toilet-paper without having some disgusting guy ask me for my phone number, even when I'm wearing sweatpants and the Mathematician's grey hoodie. Maybe it's because I'm exuding confidence? I thought.

The fact of the matter is, I had every reason in the world to be nervous. Last time we met for a seemingly cordial drink, we all know what happened. The final stages of my breakup with the Ex were simply awful: volatile and mean enough to erase any misgivings I ever could have had about my decision to end the relationship. But, what I had let myself forget, or rather, ignore in that past 10 months of estrangement is that the Ex is also a kind, caring, gentle and extremely intelligent man. ThatÂ’s why I hitched my wagon to his star in the first place, soimpetuouslyy, so many years ago.

But as he descended the small staircase to the garden level patio where waited for him, in a sundrenched corner at a green metal table, I felt pleasantly surprised to realize: the Ex still looks exactly the same. He was wearing different jeans, different shoes, and allegedly has gained about 15lbs, which is completely unnoticeable because the Ex is a tall motherfucker, a whopping 6'4". But aside from all of that, I still...I don't know...recognized him.

A lot has happened in the ten months since we last saw each other, and for 2 1/2 hours, we talked about pretty much everything. We talked a lot about his new relationship, with a brunette girl, his new fiancee. They have plans to tie the knot in some tropical location in six months. A year from now, they will be Mr. and Mrs. Ex. He seems to actually mean it this time, and I say, good for him for holding on tight.

All in all, itÂ’s amazing how much people stay the same, even when you are estranged from them, even when everything in your life changes and shifts around you, even when you thought for a second that they (you?) have morphed into someone else. Last Wednesday I realized: I still love talking to the Ex. I feel delighted that we are going to try to be friends; friends is something we always did very well.

And a supportive friend the Ex is: just like old times, I had to get his opinion on my jeans, because I wasn't quite sure about them & I bought them without Shanna by my side. He told me he loves my blog, and that he loves my book idea, and is so excited that I'm writing a book. He even told me he's happy for me and the Mathematician, which I know took a lot for him to say. And I also know that he means it.

And best of all: he told me that he loved the new, blonde, hair.

I told him it's not so new, it's been like this for almost a year.

And I felt delighted that I'd read my horoscope that day.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

blast from the past

You know those pictures they show in Us Weekly and Star magazine, of Paris Hilton before she became the Paris we all know and gawk at? She is 25 lbs heavier, wearing little or no make-up, her hair is it's natural mousy brown, her nose it's awkward, pre-surgical shape, she's sports a velvet body suit and high waisted jeans, and a gaudy, gothic-looking cross circa-Claire's boutique 1994 hangs between her non-existent, pre-boob-job lack of cleavage?

We all love those pictures, right? Because we all have 'em. Well, here's mine, for you all to enjoy. And don't forget to thank my beloved Jamie for posting this on my MySpace page, and reminding me of my humble beginnings.

Happy Thursday.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

there are some things the mathematician understands

I ate my words last Friday, after writing this whole long post about how this book is something that men, including the Mathematician, can just never understand.

It was a slow Friday and I finished my waitressing shift early. We heard that some people got mugged at gunpoint earlier in the evening, so the Mathematician picked me up at the restaurant, instead of walking home alone like I usually do. I stopped to say goodbye to some of my co-workers and a long-time regular, who were boozing it up on the patio as we walked out.

"You are a sex-pot!" the regular said, out of the blue and completely unsolicited as we stood there, talking. In truth, there was something really awkward about it, but he's a long-time regular, he's gay, and I know he meant it as a compliment, so I smiled, laughed and rolled with it. "More like a sex Kitten," B-lo said, and the conversation tapered away, punctuated by kitty noises, meow-ing and fake clawing at the air as we bid my friends farewell. While all of this was going on, the Mathematician stood there, silent.

Later, at home in my bedroom, the Mathematician brought the comment up.

"I thought it was kind of not that cool, what that guy said to you back there at the restaurant."

"What do you mean?" I said.

"Well, I just thought it was not that cool. It seemed inappropriate and not his place to say something like that."

"Baby, he's gay."

"I know. But, still. I just wasn't that into it."

And it's funny: I am so used to hearing stupid comments like that from men, gay, straight, what have you, that I didn't even think twice about the fact that this regular had just called me a sex-pot, or the way that he called me a sex-pot, or the dynamics of the interaction at all.

"Well, I just think it's not that cool that he said that to you," the Mathematician said. "I know he meant it as a compliment, but it came off sounding derogatory. Yes, you're beautiful, but telling you so like that just cheapens the whole thing."

Now, this regular of mine is a fine person, and someone who I've known in passing from the restaurant for years. He's gay, and because of this, I didn't feel hurt or threatened by the comment. In fact, I took it exactly as I presume he intended it: as a compliment. But as we sat there talking, replaying the incident, I began to realize that people don't talk like that in the Mathematician's world. In his world, of men and computers and systems processors and cache partitioning, compliments are paid in the form of praise for your ideas, respect for innovative concepts, and congratulations on a job well done. In my world, the majority of compliments I receive are in this objectifying form of flattery.

I realized the Mathematician is right: that regular was not complimenting my stellar waitressing skills, my killer personality, or my noticeable intelligence. He was not commenting about my creativity, my aptitude for writing, or my ability to dream up fresh book or PR ideas. He was complimenting me for being hot. And I was flattered,…very flattered,…so flattered that it didn't even occur to me that in reality I want to be so much more than just hot.

In this moment, the Mathematician had a little window into what it feels like to be me. "Well, you have to understand, baby, people talk to me like that all the time. In fact, oftentimes men say things to me that are a zillion times more offensive."

I know he didn't want to hear it. No one wants to think of their girlfriend/sister/mother/best friend being treated like an object. But for that brief moment, the Mathematician had a little window into my odd little world. And I'm glad for it. Because if he hadn't bought it up, if he hadn't taken issue with the comment, and pointed out to me that I am so much more than just a sex-pot and people should respect that, I wouldn't have thought of it either. At the end of the day, gay or straight, comments like these miss the point, reduce me to nothing more than just a body. They totally overlook who I really am.

I also undertstand that someday these comments will stop coming. Gravity will start to work against me, my breasts will sag, my hair will turn coarse and gray, and my skin will reveal its age with irrevocable cracks and crevices. And if people aren't respecting me for anything but my sex-pot body, what will I have then?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

why guys don't understand

When it comes to the men in my life, I must admit, I am a lucky girl. So many of them are amazing: my brothers are all laid-back, down to earth; my father is so kind and the best dad a girl could ask for; my boyfriend is smart, handsome, and attentive to my every need. And that's just the straight boys--if I included the fabulosity of the gay boys I know in this discussion, we'd be looking at a tract of several volumes.

Yet I realized something interesting as I was thinking about this project the other day. It was Tuesday, a mild mannered afternoon. I had a spare hour between rushing here and there, and decided to write. You see, self-critical Virgo that I am, I have been having doubts about this project lately. Thoughts like:

"This is a fool's errand."
"No one will ever buy a book on this."
"Yeah, you get treated differently as a blonde. So what?"

You know, that sort of thing. Self-critical, deprecating thoughts, whispered to me from the back of my mind.

So, on this mild mannered Tuesday, I decided that it was time to have it out with these self-critical voices. I mean, really. Who were they to go around, getting all up inside my head and making me feel discouraged? I sat down with my journal, blank page open in front of me. It was time to take these voices down.

I armed myself with logical thinking skills and not a few generically affirming phrases ("I'm good enough"..."I'm smart enough"...)I wrestled them out, thought by thought, parced them out, feeling by feeling, and sifted through this mass of negativity. And as I did so, I realized something: these thoughts aren't thoughts that I dreamed up on my own. Sure, I've exacerbated them, nurtured them with insecurity and fertilized them with self-doubt. But, when I sit down and think long and hard about where these awful ideas come from I realize, they echo the words of some key men in my life upon learning the subject matter of this experiment: being blonde. Par example:

BROTHER #1: So, let me get this're going to dye your hair blonde? And then see if people treat you differently? Of course people will treat you differently. Blondes are hot. Duh.
BROTHER #2: You're writing a book that's based on research you do in a bar? Uh, okay.
GAY FRIEND: Oh. How interesting. (Turns his face into a smiling mask; the smile is fake; his tone betrays that he thinks the project is bullshit.) Anyway...(turns the conversation back to himself.)
THE MATHEMATICIAN: Truthfully, I think people are going to pay attention to you no matter what color your hair is 'cuz you're a stone cold fox. (Biased much?)

These comments don't make the aforementioned men any less great, but they do underline an important point that it has taken me over a year to realize: this book is not something that men are going to inherently understand. Very few men know what it feels like to be ogled at 7:30 in the morning when you're simply running up to the corner store to grab some goddamn milk, or to be degraded by teenagers while buying a pack of gum, or to be blatantly sexually harassed, then blamed for it because, well, "you are wearing a short skirt."

But women do understand. All women. Regardless of hair color, waist size, or age. This daily circus of testosterone is something that we all have to deal with, the minute we develop breasts and sprout hips. This is a universal thing and it happens to all of us.

So men of the world who get it: thank you for your support, I adore you and appreciate it.

And the men who don't get it: I just don't know what to tell you. You're never going to get the project, and there's not much I can do about it. So with all do respect guys, if you think the project is bullshit, keep those thoughts to yourself. You wouldn't understand.

And I'm no longer going to listen.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

the brunette countdown

I have chosen my day.

It will be Tuesday, October 3rd.

In 62 days, I will cross the threshold of Liquid salon a blondie and walk back out a brunette. This will take many, many hours, cost me plenty of money, and lots of courage. I plan to have at least one cocktail beforehand, and to make sure that the Mathematician and perhaps one other very close friend can accompany me. On second thought, I might decide to do it alone. I will most likely cry, I will most likely be a mess, and this may one of those intimate moments that is better shared between stylist and client.

You see, as I've mentioned to many of you before, the blondeness has really begun to seep into my identity. So much so that I've even considered scrapping this entire project altogether, considered moving on to something less personal, something a bit less scary. A few weeks ago, the Mathematician said to me: "You're going brunette in October. Yeah, right. Are you really going to become a brunette again? Honestly, I don't think you have the guts." When he said this, I felt indignant. But the Mathematician had a point.

The more and more I read about blondes, about the image of blondeness and the potent symbolism blonde hair has had over the past 2,500 years, the more I realize I've found my most truly appropriate hair hue. I've come to find out that blondeness is a paradox. It is on the one hand a color of innocence and purity, and on the other a color of potent, sizzling, even dangerous sensuality.

And that pretty much sums up in one hair color how people often view me: dumb or ditzy because of the lilting patterns of my speech, oversexualized, like my bitchy restaurant colleagues, who started a rumor that I used to be a stripper. A lovely, commodifiable paradox.

What have I learned in my year as a blonde? That though my hormones betrayed me, and darkened my hair as a teenager, deep down inside, as my mother insists:

I've always been a blonde.