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.


Nikki said...

Oh, haha! I can see why you're so encouraging of my blonde ambitions... ;) Hmm... temptation, temptation... I think you may have convinced me. Great site!

Anonymous said...

Make that bleached blond. Here you can look at a collection about 50 or so ancient greek and roman mosaics of Aphrodite/Venus which show her to have had black or dark brown hair.
Don't believe everything you read at the airport. The goddess of love is a brunette.