A reader recently left an interesting comment in response to this post. It was so interesting, in fact, that I wanted to post about it. She said:
Brunettes that are bleached are not Blonde. Yes, I know that Bleached Brunette sounds ugly but hey, if you are a Brunette and you're bleached, then you're a Bleached Brunette. Stop using the name Blonde to dress up your Brunette garbage. Blondes are actively disassociating from this forced relationship. Blonde is the name of the Blonde people and nobody else.
Well, she certainly told me, didn't she?
(Also, did you guys know there were a "blonde people?" Perhaps they hail from a great "Blonde nation" located in some remote region of Scandinavia?)
I was intrigued and just had to check out this reader's website, Blond from Birth. It's basically a soapbox where this very disgruntled blonde laments the shitty, undermining stereotypes she faces as a blond woman, and has likely been facing all of her life (if she is, in fact, among the 1 in 20 women who are naturally blond from birth--she's posted no pictures to prove it.)
The content is problematic to me: virtually unsupported & for the most part WAY oversimplified, i.e. her comparisons between blonde prejudice & racism or anti-semitism--in my opinion, that's totally inappropriate. But, I can't say I blame this woman for feeling upset about her plight. I'm sure that as a blonde, she's treated like a bimbo all the time. I lived as an almost platinum blonde for a year and a half, I know what that feels like. And truly, it sucks to be treated like you're stupid, solely because of the color of your hair.
That said, I think that more of the time, blondes are celebrated based solely on the color of their hair. I certainly was as a child, from the moment wispy strands of baby hair grew in flaxen on my head (yes, I was blonde from birth), thru my teens, when puberty, hormones, and the natural aging process turned my hair light brown. All of that happened again in a whole new way when I went blonde as an adult, and persisted thru the day I dyed my hair brown. Sometimes, as a brunette, I truly miss that special treatment...though I am beginning to suspect that the person who felt the most special about my blonde hair most of the time was me.
So, thanks for the food for thought, Carol "Blond from Birth" Cox. It's too bad you didn't take the time to read my blog, and just skimmed thru that one post before leaving me an angry/mean/slightly scary comment. The fact of the matter is, Undercover Blonde is a very pro-blonde, very pro-woman project, designed to question stereotypical notions of blondes, and make readers think twice about the prejudices we hold based on meaningless physical traits.
Far more interesting to me than your 'natural' blond hair color, however, is your self-protective, othering attitude about your blondness. It tells me that you fail to see the big picture I am so desperately trying to deconstruct with my project. The fact of the matter is, your experience of marginalization is so much bigger than you, and so much bigger than the plight of blondes alone. It's part of a very complicated web that has all women of every race, class, and sexual orientation ensnared in it's sticky fiber. It's the experience of being female in a sexist, looksist, unfair society.
The sad thing is, by fostering an "us" and "them" mentality with rhetoric about my "brunette garbage" and invalidating my experience because I'm not part of the elite "blond from birth," you are only making a complex situation worse. As women, we are constantly pitted against each other in this culture, constantly finding ways to undermine or undercut the other, based on horribly superficial things. Anyone who has ever critiqued the length of a colleague's skirt is guilty; anyone who has ever been so critiqued is a victim. It's a classic example of divide & conquer, baby. Ever heard of it? As aggrandizing as it is to put another woman down in the moment, it only serves to undermine our power as a group. And it's a remarkably effective way to perpetuate a sexist, looksist, and totally unfair status quo.
With a little bit of patience and a little bit more reading, you might understand that I get what it feels like to be treated like an idiot because of the color of my hair. Every woman does, because if it's not our hair that marks us as ditzy sex objects, it's our bust size or our height or not being pretty enough, or being too pretty, you name it...mostly we're marked as inferior because we were born with a vagina. It's part & parcel of the sticky web of sexism. Hair color? That's just the icing on the patriarchal cake.
Then again, perhaps you're not actually the blog reading type. Perhaps you lack the patience to pore through the many pages of Undercover Blonde, to make sense of my goals and ambitions with this carefully drawn project. If that's the case, you can wait until it's all out in book form, buy a copy on Amazon, or take a copy home from your local library. By then, I'm sure, it will be much more concise.
Lucky for you, that will sooner than late, because I just signed on with a literary agent.
And no, I will NOT be changing the title of my "brunette garbage" to Undercover Bleached Brunette. Something tells me a title like that just wouldn't work in the marketplace.