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Family Chatter

goldilocks

Do blondes really have more fun? As a brunette, I never gave this much thought. Then I gave birth to a blonde daughter and I was suddenly part of a new tribe: the blonde-by-association gang. Laura's hair was a medium shade blonde, and very slow growing, but whenever I'd see a little girl with satiny blonde hair cascading down her back, I had to pull my gaze away lest I appear to be some sort of a creepy stalker. While I had no idea whether these little girls were having more fun (and my intuition tells me that they weren't, not with all that hair to detangle every morning!) they certainly were stunning.

From about the ages of 4 to 8, Laura's main concern about her hair was its refusal to grow much past her shoulders. It finally started to gain some length (albeit still growing slowly) around age 9. Now that she is 12, she is very aware of herself as a blonde and I find this fascinating. I think the sheer fact of having blonde hair gives her a small boost in self-esteem, a little more confidence, a certain je ne sais quoi, if you will. Maybe blondes do have more...something?

Pondering this, I decided to check in with friends who are blonde or who have blonde daughters. The feedback ranged from a mother of three daughters (two blonde, one brunette) who says she's never noticed any real difference in their attitude or self-esteem based on their hair to one friend who readily admitted that her blonde hair has given her a big bump in her confidence, as well as a great deal of attention from men (who wanted her) and women (who wanted her hair). I paraphrase, guys, but that is the essence of what she told me and, damn, if I didn't start to feel like I'd really missed out — big time — as an ordinary old brunette.

And then I received a more nuanced response from my friend Dr. Debra Schleef, professor of sociology at University of Mary Washington, and a blonde. According to her, the way Western culture has construed blondes as being at the top of the genetic chain is problematic on many levels, and she's been aware of this for as long as she's been studying sociology. She also reminded me of the stereotypes that fair-haired women all too often have to deal with, such as "dumb blonde" and "bimbo" which do nothing to help a young woman's self-esteem or ability to be taken seriously at school or work.

Despite this, I hope that Laura can enjoy her honey-colored hair a bit longer. Society and culture will catch up with her soon enough and she'll have to more thoughtfully weigh the messages she sends with her hair, her clothes, her body and every other aspect of her appearance.

Back to my initial question, do blondes have more fun? I still don't know, but I wonder. What do you think?

Mary Becelia lives with her family in southern Stafford County.

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