Oct 21, 2007

blondism

The last comment on my race and adoption post made me think of something. Something that I have wanted to post about for a while. Something that troubles me deeply when I encounter it.

Now, I'm not trying to compare my experience with that of racial minorities. Not at all. People of color have a completely different, and perhaps more vicious set of preconceived notions to deal with. So, not to compare, just to state, for the purpose of observation and discussion:

Blonds are discriminated against. Yes, they are. You laugh, my friend, but you're not the one who was called "spacy," "airhead," etcetera whilst riding the busses of your youth. Oh, and worse. To be assumed to be "easy," "dismissible", "not serious."

Seriously. And you know what? Ok. I'm just going to make a list.

The Ten Crappiest Things That Blonds Have to Deal With.

10) A questioning as to the naturalness ofhair color, and therefore a blatant accusation of vanity, based solely on outward appearance.

9) A general attitude of dismissiveness by persons in authority who like to take themselves too seriously.

8) A lack of photographability: ie, looking undeveloped and washed out in any picture ever taken of you, particularly if you do not falsely darken certain facial features.

7) An addiction to SPF 30-or-higher and the possibility of having pieces of one's body cut off as one approaches cancerous ages.

6) The assumption by men that, just because you're Blond, you'll be willing to do for them what Marylin Monroe would do for them.

5) A lack of versatility/experimental leeway in the hair coloring department. It's much easier for a brunette to go lighter and pull it off than for a blond to go darker and not look like Morticia Adams.

4) The automatic assumption of youth; the whispers in the grocery store about 18 year olds and how they ought to do something with their lives other than popping out babies. LOOK AT MY FACE, people. See? Crows feet! And dang it, I have a bachelor's in psychology!!

3) The people that come up to you and ask if you're related to some other random blond person that they know. "Y'all look alike"... well, I know (to a very small degree, perhaps) how that feels.

2) The honking at stop lights. I know that, at 11:00 pm with the glare of headlights obscuring any clear vision of me within the confines of my poop-covered intrepid, added to the fact that I am nearly seven months pregnant, all they can really see is the blond hair. And so they honk. And so I tear off the green light and pass them. Yesssss!!!!

1) The mistrust of other women. Nuff said. Don't want to open up the vent on this one... it deserves another couple of posts, and nobody would probably want to read them ;)


And to add to all this, guys, I deserve sympathy because I'm not a blond with a cute, round, delicate swedish face.

I am a blond with LATIN features. I inherited the best of my biological grandmother's Portuguese facial bone structure: almond-shaped eyes, broad, high cheekbones, defined chin, aquiline nose. These look gorgeous and mysterious on a person with a matching complexion, but apparently strong features + blond hair = snob in most people's repertoire of first impressions. Without realizing it, I look really pissed off a lot of the time, when I'm in reality just intensely interested or perhaps bored. And apparently (I was told this by a brave guy friend during my single days)I accidentally smile evil smiles.

Add to that my tendency to act the clown and have unexpected hobbies (writing, homeschooling, vegetarianism and adopting Ethiopian children), and well, I'm doomed. When you defy enough stereotypes that nobody knows exactly which box you belong in, they tend to try to forget that you might be a nice person to get to know.

Most people don't like me until they've known me a while. Sigh. Alack and Alas.

But seriously, I don't know what I would think of myself if I weren't blond. It would be so weird. My hair color is such an integral part of my identity at this point... it has never changed. From the time of my birth. So I wouldn't want to change it.

And in a way, that could loop back to the adoption/racism conversation, too... can I teach this to my kids? You love who you are, and so, despite the fact that you get flack for your differences (and I admit, blondness is a vapid comparison to the sort of discrimination that my children my face), you love them anyway, because you love yourself, and wouldn't want to be someone else.

Oh, and just to clarify-- I love Marylin. Despite all that she has done to denigrate the cause of intelligent blond women.

9 comments:

NoSurfGirl said...

This comment sent to me by Dave from http://daveloveless.wordpress.com/:


As a male blond, I had to chime up. I see it too. The idea that blond equals stupid is seen among blond men as well as women although I don't see it too often.

While I wouldn't change being blond for anything (it really does become a part of you, doesn't it?), I wish it wasn't such a seemingly dominant trait.

As for your list of 10 things you dislike, I'd add one more to the male side... "Tall, dark, and handsome." Kind of leaves you feeling left out in the cold a bit....

Dave

Janell said...

How dare those cameras discriminate!

I'll agree that blondes are the only people that people can pick on without being politically incorrect. I'll also agree that without a nice, clean categorization it's very difficult to approach you.

texasblu said...

I'm a blonde, and I get that all the time - and my family just can't get it through their heads that I HATE blonde jokes. Hate them with a passion.

Josh and Jennifer said...

You know why everyone always picks on blondes? It's a major secret that us non-blondes don't want getting out... secretly we all wish we were blondes! I bet every-one of them wishes they had such naturally beautiful locks! That's the real conspiracy!

NoSurfGirl said...

I like your theory, Fern. :)

Margaret said...

I should write a post like this about being TALL. ;)

NoSurfGirl said...

Margaret--

you should. I would be very interested in a post about Tallism. :)

Jayne said...

Although I'm not a blond,I can easily see your point. The additional comments remind me that everyone has certain salient features that others notice right away and that these features cause others to respond to us accordingly...sometimes in ways that aren't so great. Size, shape, skin color, age, and gender are a few examples. I know you already know all this. It's just fun to reconsider sometimes.

NoSurfGirl said...

it is fun... kind of. When it doesn't compromise your faith in humanity's eminent charity and goodness toward one another :)

In a way, I feel ashamed of being angsty about how blond people are treated, because others have it worse. I mean, I've never had to deal with being a bigger size than society accepts, for instance. And working with women who have body image problems/eating disorders made me realize exactly how venomous people can be about size.

All the same, It feels nice to vent about how blondism has affected me, because it has. Next on the list for me would be (and this may be a future post and some far-distant point) anti-mormonism, how it is to grow up in a community where everyone thinks your going to hell. :)

Everyone's got something to deal with like that, I'm sure.