Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Pretty is as Pretty Does (6.1.07)

First - a blanket apology to any blondes out there. You're not all bad, LOL. This isn't an anti-blonde blog, it's a "false stereotypes" blog.

Yesterday, I was talking to a woman who was complaining about her child being a huge discipline problem. It became such a challenge to her that when she went to the doctor last week she spoke to him about it and told him some of the little girl's antics over the previous two weeks. The doctor looked at her and told her, "You're a very pretty little girl, but you have to be nice." This nine year old looked the doctor square in the eye and said with complete seriousness, "I am blonde. I have blue eyes. I am beautiful. I DON'T HAVE TO BE NICE!"

Without even addressing the issues of brattiness, where did this child get the notion that blondes are somehow better, and somehow by virtue of blondeness not accountable to common standards of proper behavior? And at such an early age! Who pumped her full of this crap?

If you go into the how "blondes have more fun" phenomenon got started, it can be traced directly to 20th century advertising. Yes, that phrase was coined as part of a marketing campaign in order to get women to buy hair dye. No factual basis, just trying to sell a product. Shirley Polykoff, who was born in 1908 and died in 1998, was one of only five women in history who was ever inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame. We can thank her for such slogans as "Does she or doesn't she, only her hairdresser knows for sure," "If I have only one life . . . let me live it as a blonde," and the one we'll never, ever forget, "Is it true that blondes have more fun?"

Apparently, the answer to that question is a resounding "NO." Repeatedly through the years studies have been done to indicate that, in fact, gentlemen prefer brunettes. A 1971 study appearing on pages 311 and 312 in the February issue of Psychological Reports noted that "dark men clearly preferred brunette women; blond men were equally divided in preference for blondes and brunettes; blond, brunette, and red-headed women clearly preferred dark men; and artificial blondes preferred dark and blonde men." In a recent magazine poll 62% of men preferred brunettes, 32% strawberry blondes, and only 6% blondes. But seriously, preference is in the eye of the beholder and there are many people who thought they were attracted to only women/men of one hair color, to find themselves happily married to someone that doesn't fit that bill.

The stereotyping that has attached itself to hair color is in itself ridiculous. Blondes - ditzy, airheaded. Brunettes, brainy and mysterious. Redheads - fiery tempered and passionate. Let me tell you, I know some very intelligent blondes, some dumb-as-dirt brunettes, and some couch-potato redheads that seem to exist without adrenalin. It is all a bunch of bunk!

My brunette daughters have on more than one occasion been in the presence of blonde teenage girls who bragged that just because they had blonde hair that all the boys liked them. Not true. One of the biggest bragging offenders had her come uppance when bragging in front of a group and the boys said, "No way! The hottest girls in the group are 'x' and 'y' and they have dark brown hair!" In my own experience, I've heard women say on more than one occasion that by virtue of blondeness that they didn't even have to take care of themselves in other ways (makeup, clothing, etc) because they were "already blonde and that's everything." Pffffff.

I am horrified to think that people are still going at it, teaching little girls that because they are blonde they are more attractive and somehow better than little girls who aren't. It's disgusting. As if there isn't already an abundance of obnoxious brats out there!

I have always taught my daughters, "Pretty is as pretty does." Beauty is only skin deep - you might meet someone and find them very attractive, but if, as you get to know them, you find they are mean-spirited, greedy, rude,conceited and arrogant you will find that their appearance starts taking a nosedive. Before you know it, when you look at them you will wonder how you ever thought them attractive to begin with. The warning was that - their own behavior mattered and that pretty was just as much of an inside quality as an outside quality.

We're all humans (right?) - which means we are chemically wired to find certain things very attractive and certain things unappealing. We should never make blanket statements about what is and what is not more attractive to society as a whole as if we have a right.

Two interesting stories on the subject of beauty and the beholder. "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison and Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story, "The Birthmark." A while back, I posted Audrey Hepburn's Beauty Tips, well worth taking to heart. (Plus, there is a great butt blaster on that blog!)

For the record, I have medium-dark Auburn hair and hazel eyes. Sometimes olive green, sometimes golden, sometimes a mix that resembles pond scum. :)

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