One thing I noticed about myself the first time I was blonde, when I was flirting with platinum and very excited about my new look, was that I was very competitive with other blondes. (Like this blonde in the shirtdress.) Another blonde would walk into the room, and you bet I’d notice. I would take her in very carefully, with that appraising head to toe look that judging women give each other. I’d also note how this blonde carried herself, how other people in the room reacted to her, and how she handled the attention. This kind of observation was necessary, right? It was research for the book. But I’m not going to lie. It was also guiltily competitive, punctuated with paradoxical thoughts: “Who does she think she is?”; “my hair looks better than hers, right?”; “wow, I wish I was that thin”; “she is the prettiest girl in the room and I hate her.”
When I became a brunette, this blonde competition stopped. Sure I noticed the blondes, but I was no longer threatened by them. In a way, it was probably similar to how my best friend Marissa felt as an American living in Rome. She kept up with America, of course, our trends and our politics. But she no longer lived by our rules. She drank espresso instead of drip coffee, abandoned vegetarianism because it was too hard in that carnivorous culture, and adopted a whole new way of life, with Italian rules. Her American self was still inside of her, but suddenly things that loomed large and important when on American soil became quiet and distant memories while living in the noisy city of Rome.
It was good for me to live in Brunette Land for a while, by the Brunette Rules. Now I am blonde again, but I’m coming at it from a totally different angle. Much less competitive; much more centered. But, since I am blonde again, I find that I often encounter other blondes, who give me that same once over treatment. And occasionally, I’ll find myself explaining my book to these other blondes. While most blondes get the topic, every once in a while, I’ll meet a blonde who doesn’t. They may challenge it or even criticize it, and deny that their life has been different as a blonde. I nod and listen politely, because what am I going to say? Deep down inside I’m thinking all the while:
If your life isn’t different as a blonde, why do you dye your hair blonde in the first place? You aren’t among the one in 20 adult females whose hair is naturally so—I can tell by your eyebrows and your roots. Highlights like yours cost at least $200 a pop. If it doesn’t make a difference, why do you do it?