Blondes: Do They, Like, Really Have More Brains?

Today’s word is “Blonde Moment.” Wait, that’s two words. Anyway, a blonde moment:

Noun, Often Facetious.

  1. A brief mental lapse, as of judgement or memory:

I must be having a blonde moment.

  1. An insult to a blonde-haired woman who is perceived as being attractive but unintelligent; someone did something really, really ditzy; a reputation women have for being “blonde”:

A guy was driving in a car with a blonde. He told her to stick her head out the window and see if the blinker worked. She looked out and said, “Yes, No, Yes, No, Yes…”                                              

So my name is Marlee. I have blonde hair and I have dumb blonde moments.

No, I have blonde hair and I have “Marlee Moments.”

I have blonde hair and I have mental lapses?

No. I just have blonde hair.

Blonde hair is light in color because it lacks a pigment called eumelanin. Blonde hair has also become associated with the lack of another component — intelligence. Blonde jokes pose the eumelanin deficient as dumb, stupid, silly, or weak-minded.

Why do blondes have TGIF written on their shoes? Toes Go In First.

Yeah, yeah. I’ve heard them all.

I have blonde hair yet I am not stupid. I have blonde hair yet I am not dumb. Let me explain.

In one study, researchers showed a picture of three women wearing a blonde, red, and brown wig. Subjects rated the blonde-haired woman as less intelligent.  In another study, a model was more approachable when her hair was blonde but more intelligent when her hair was brunette.

In popular culture, there seems to be an idea that blonde people are more attractive than people with other hair colors. Men are especially thought to desire flaxen-haired women because as they have lighter hair and skin when they’re younger, men unconsciously associate blonde hair with being vulnerable, naïve, less intelligent, and less capable. This is perceived as appealing because men are attracted to young, fertile women. Hollywood has also built a stereotype of beauty surrounding blonde appeal. Howard Stern (American producer, author, actor, photographer) stated of Jessica Simpson: “I don’t care if she’s dumb. That only makes her hotter.”

What ever happened to the attractiveness of an educated blonde woman?

While Marilyn Monroe garnered fame playing characters who matched the ditzy blonde stereotype, the actress was actually quite intellectual. She was an avid reader and maintained a personal library that included work by Ernest Hemingway, D.H. Lawrence, and James Joyce. “She played ditzy blondes and people believed that was the person she was, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth,” said Michelle Morgan, author of Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed.

The novelist Truman Capote, a close friend of Monroe’s, also spoke of her intelligence for Playgirl magazine. “Well, you know, the funny thing about Marilyn,” Capote said, “she was really very, very shy, and very insecure. But she was also very, very bright. People would humor her, thinking she was a dumb blonde; but Marilyn was very perceptive. She wasn’t fooled by many people, and they thought they were fooling her all the time.”

Honestly, I have blonde moments.

No, I have “Marlee Moments.”

I have MENTAL LAPSES. But don’t we all?

We have all had a moment where we ask a question that was just asked or freak out over a missing pencil that we turned out to be grasping in our hand the whole time. And with those moments comes responsibility and small life lessons. Life lessons such as: pay attention to where you’re walking so you don’t run into that wall again or always check your gas gage because remember when I got stranded in the middle of nowhere-Idaho with no money so dad had to drive three hours to rescue me or do not leave your keys in the most inconvenient of places — behind a locked door.

***

According to typology, our peer’s unconsciously associate blondeness with affluence and privilege, and thus regard blondes’ opinions as naïve and ill-informed. Nowhere have I noticed this more than in the classroom. They’ve assumed that I’m downright silly, down right dumb because of my hair color and it’s interesting that being blonde is even part of my identity at all because it has affected my life, my confidence.

Marlee Moment: Mrs. Reese always had creative ways of teaching her sophomore history class and I particularly recall the unit including the Japanese attack near Honolulu, Hawaii in 1941. After Mrs. Reese finished her lecture, she allowed us to watch the attack scenes of the award-winning film, Pearl Harbor. I sat in the dark, trying so hard to figure out what had me so confused. Finally, I raised hand.

“Yes, Marlee?”

“This was in December, right?”

“Correct”, she said.

“Well,” I began, skeptical, “where’s all the snow?”

Laughter echoed in the large room, causing neighboring classrooms to search for the source of the loud outbursts. Then, I realized,

I must be having a blonde moment

A Marlee Moment

A BRIEF MENTAL LAPSE

My cheeks blushed firing red as my peers snickered in spite of me. I laughed, too, but I was terribly embarrassed.

***

Female musicians and actresses alike depend on the cult of desirability for fame. But too often, desirability means subscribing to a singular standard of beauty, no matter how fleeting.  And in our culture, the attractiveness meter typically tips toward the blonde. Although present day media propaganda of the blonde may not be as aggressive, the message remains the same: blonde is a superior socio-political-aesthetic value.

Being blonde means being untainted. And being untainted means remaining innocent, being free of “outside” contamination. Contamination as in being made dangerous, dirty, or impure by purity norms (no premarital sex, tattoos, piercings, substance abuse, shaved heads, etc.), mental illness (depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, ADD/ADHD) or false rumors

(e.g. BEYONCE IS HAVING AN AFFAIR WITH BARACK OBAMA

This would certainly be the scandal of the century, reminiscent of JFK’s famous affair with big-boob, blonde-hair Marilyn Monroe and certainly there is no evidence that points to Queen Bey being romantically involved with the former President of the United States.)

This sentiment of “untainted blondes” pronounced during Hitler’s historic Nazi regime and his desire to produce the “perfect/innocent/uncontaminated” race. He was obsessed with his experiments to breed a “pure white” race which means he stole blonde children and used them in genetic reproduction, and encouraged SS soldiers to procreate with the women of occupied Scandinavian countries.

Like other wartime nurses, those in Nazi Germany selflessly tended to wounded soldiers in some of the toughest conditions imaginable. But they also had a more sinister side to their job –

Blonde

Nurses put babies under a sunlamp to treat their brown hair brown skin with UV light in a bid to make it fairer. Children who refused were beaten and often sent to concentration camps where many were killed.

***

My mother is beautiful. Her Swiss German blood gifted her with an allure that is tremendously special. She is a European beauty, thick dirty blonde hair, piercing blue eyes, and bone structure that would make Kate Moss reel with envy. Her mother, my grandmother, is also a blonde. She possesses that sunlit-haired-goddess quality, and, growing up, I was surrounded by blonde haired beauties. I should feel lucky, blessed even, that I don’t have to spend hours in the salon to achieve my natural blonde color but I admit:

I made my attempt to escape my dumb-blonde stereotype.

There seemed to be something mysterious, something striking, something fundamentally appealing about being a brunette, or even a red head. People tend to take them more seriously because of the old (though totally untrue) blondes are dumb, brunettes are smart stereotype. Not only are brunettes accused for oozing with intelligence, they are also talked about as being the most trustworthy of all shades. As a chemically-born brunette, I thought the blonde jokes would stop immediately; they didn’t. They called me “pineapple” (you know, blonde on the inside, brown on the outside), teased me how “my roots grew a little too deep” but having experimented with several different hair colors, I always went back to my roots.

blonde

blonde

I fast became aware that without my blonde hair, I didn’t quite feel like myself. I felt boring and characterless, that I didn’t align with my personal sense of style. I felt darker hair would help me blend in, and blending in is what I wanted — why did I want it?

***

Even though only nine percent of women are natural blondes, far more sport blonde hair.

What do you call a Blonde that dyes their hair blonde? Artificial Intelligence

Maybe that’s why people think of blondes as fake. If they’re faking their hair color, they’re also faking that happy face? Perhaps faking their ditzy, dumb-blonde behavior for attention? Perhaps you’re not convinced that blonde discrimination is a big deal. Here’s something to think about.

Appearances, notably hair color, mean a lot and say a lot. I wish it wasn’t so, but it is human nature to look at someone, evaluate, and give them worth before knowing who they are. But even for those artificial blondes, should hair really be a reason to judge? It shouldn’t be a wonder if a blonde has brains under her flaxen tresses. Smart blonde isn’t an oxymoron, nor should there be need for a qualifier at all.

Sure, laugh it up. Blonde discrimination — what a joke. I realize there are plenty of other problems society has to deal with—racism, elitism, ageism—and the thought of adding “blondism” to the list seems annoying and superfluous. But blonde discrimination harassment is real and it’s really not all that funny. Especially when you’re on the receiving end.

Marlee Moment: Shortly following the Pearl Harbor incident, I sat in the same history class. This time, we discussed Martin Luther King Junior’s “I have a Dream.” Mrs. Reese gathered from YouTube a clip from this historical event. I leaned over to Devin.

“Hey, Devin. Is this live?”

My voice echoed more than I expected it to because about ten students around me cracked up. This time, I accepted

I must be having a blonde moment.

The next week, I took my regular seat in Algebra II class – in the back, quiet, less chance to be called on – right where I liked it. (I hated math, still do. I continuously had the worst grade in the class. Maybe that’s why my classmates thought of me as “the dumb blonde.” Maybe that’s why I don’t feel confident enough to be anything but an English major.)

Katie sat three rows ahead of me, one desk to the left. She and Angie turned their heads towards me, whispering, giggling. I knew what — who — they were talking about and tears stung my eyes. Rumors made me that girl;

the girl who was automatically regarded as intellectually inferior and unconcerned with the world around her, only interested in socializing and personal appearance, the girl who was blonde; the girl who whenever she spoke a word it was completely unintelligent; the dumb blonde girl who placed high importance on her clothes, boys, make-up, her hair and her weight; the girl who was kicked off of the dance team because of her poor grades (because, duh. She’s dumb and she’s blonde).

Marlee Moment: Football season had just begun. I planned to meet my cousin Grayson at the bleachers and he was already saving a seat for me next to him and his friends. I wore a red shiny hair bow to contain my blonde curly locks and my older brother’s well-worn Alta t-shirt that was three sizes too big for my small frame. With “ALTA” letters spelled out across my face in glittery eyeliner, I hurried down the stairs yelling good-bye to my parents. My dad anxiously followed me out the door.

“Wait, wait! Let me get a picture!”

“Oh, come on dad! I don’t have time!” I protested.

He snapped his fancy bulk camera as I posed with a flirtatious smile. I drove the ten blocks to the high school, raced to the line, presented my student I.D. card and made my way up the bleachers.

“Uh….ATLA?” my cousin questioned, as if he expected this of me. “Wait, what?” My eyes crossed as I realized what he was talking about.

I must be having a “Marlee Moment.”

“No way!” I screamed as I pulled out my cell phone to see the small reflection on the screen. It was real. The word spread like a wild fire and everyone around me was asking to take pictures with the “ATLA!” girl. While the game was being played, the entire student section stood, chanting for our newly renamed football team as they pumped their fists in the air. “ATLA! ATLA! ATLA!” The school’s yearbook committee sure did not forget to highlight me from that moment.

 

“Dumb Blonde of the Year.”

Blonde Moment

I don’t necessarily assume that you consider us (me) dumb—but there’s a good chance you do. Not because we are (I am) unintelligent— but because we are (I am) blonde. It’s a stereotype just like only anorexic women can be models or all librarians are old women with glasses and gray hair who tie a high bun and have a perpetual frown on their face or girls are not good at sports, all red heads are nerds, women are extremely crafty and have adorable handwriting, every woman loves shopping in order to de-stress, every woman enjoys eating a healthy salad for lunch, if you have a short haircut, you’re automatically attracted to other women, or

IF YOU ARE BLONDE, YOU ARE DUMB!

Because I have been the girl labeled as “The Dumb Blonde”, I have been trained to believe I really am not smart. But I am, so. I’m writing about it to prove it and to stand for all blondes who believed they never could.

Even though Blonde Moment = Marlee Moment, I can stand out as a woman, value my eumelanin deficient mane, my pink lipstick, my creative talents, my loving nature, my kindness, my courage, my maturity, my confidence, my wifely abilities, my college education, and believe it or not, embrace my mental lapses because blondes, they like, really have more brains.

Marlee's Moments

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