Are Blondes Better By Design?
When I was somewhere between the ages of ten and thirteen I read an article in an otherwise unmemorable ladies’ mag on how to attract and keep male attention. In addition to doing stuff like giving the best blow job of all time (this still amuses me, because I’m pretty sure no matter the quality of the blowie if you’re in any way affixed to their boy parts you are impossible not to at least be aware of.) the list gave two pieces of wisdom that my eager-to-please and sexually-strung-out pree-teen brain fully and hopelessly absorbed. First, bake for the guys you’re into, which I am embarrassingly guilty of still (if you are a guy and I give you a cookie, I may want to touch your dick) and the second, change your hairstyle to catch his eye.In a way it seems counterintuitive – after all, isn’t there a list of serious ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ for being a successful, magazine reading type-lady, and isn’t chopping off or drastically dying your hair right up there on the list of ‘don’ts’ along with inadvertently sexting your mom and tampon strings employed as mini skirt accessories?It has always felt for some reason like going blonde is exception to the traditional hair mores. When I started college and took my Angela Chase pre-Catalano dishwater colored mane to Angela Chase post-boiler room red, I was met, not so much with the ardor of illiterate 90s hunks, but with maroon tinged bedding and the confusion of my mother, as my hair faded out to the shade of a wanna-be redhead. In a family of redheads this is a thing to be avoided at all costs, so deep is their hair pride.
But the following semester (because in addition to experimenting with your sexuality and shaving out pieces of your eyebrows for stylistic effect, what else is college for than follicular experimentation) when I bleached my hair out to a shade I fondly remember as ” Sun scorched Corn Field”, I got nothing but positive responses. And by positive responses I mean like basically everyone wanted to touch my boobs. It was even then baffling to me. I had bleached my hair alone in the dorm room I shared with my still-best friend. With everyone else out doing something like ‘eating dinner’ and ‘forming bonds to last a lifetime’ or ‘in class’, I decided that although the box advised ten to fifteen minutes, I would wait thirty minutes for maximum platinum.One full episode of Sex in the City and three U2 songs later, I washed as instructed and found that yes, the extra time had certainly made me blonder, but it had also completely changed the texture of my hair. Once I had it blow-dried, I squeezed it between my fingers and marveled at the fact that it now seemed to have its own voice in addition to its own new personality. That shit rustled when I moved, y’all. As badly as I may have damaged my hair, it looked impressive and the amount of attention in garnered seem to prove that there must be some science behind the draw of my chemically ravaged but hot as hell locks. But since this was college, and the closest I got to taking a science class was the infamous ‘Chemistry and Art’ (fondly known as AP Kindergarten) so any research I could have done into the matter went by the wayside in favor of prodigious amounts of Miller High Life and Theatre classes.But it appears my hypothesis was not in vain and that there are people with a greater call to this sort of research than angst-riddled 18-year old girls. In this article Peter Frost, a professor of anthropology in Quebec City says that while now a desire to change your hair is simply read as a desire to stand out from the maddening throng, it may have meant something more in the pre-iPhone post-T-Rex days of prehistoria. It was previously believed that the genes for lightness in hair and eyes developed and changed at the same time to allow folks in higher altitudes to get the Vitamin D they needed to live sans SAD lamps.But Frost thinks the change happened because lots and lots of hunting on the icy tundra meant a lot of dead dudes, which in turn meant, not as many potential mates for the plethora of remaining single, home-dwelling ladies. With less guys to partner up with for a brief bang beneath the mastadon chandalier, the likelihood of the continued propagation of the species declined and nature had to – not to get all Jurassic Park on this – find a way to enhance competition. Frost posits that new colors of hair and eyes were more appealing to mates, thus putting science behind the commonly held cliché that guys dig shiny things.So to sum up, to Frost’s thinking, the shift in hair and eye color was the prehistoric equivalent of being the evil character on a TV show like the Bachelor: Evolution finding a way to up the stakes in sexual competition.I don’t think this research necessarily means that blonde equals greater power to turn the head, as much as it validates the notion that our desire to change our appearance is powered by a genetic drive to get noticed. Which is the argument I will use the next time I try to talk my world-weary stylist into giving me the perm I so desperately and occasionally crave. That said, the Journal of Socio-Economics tried to further this claim with a hilarious study. They found that French waitresses made better tips from male customers if they were wearing blond wigs. The study did not take into account that the waitresses were, uh, French, and that an unexpected blonde wig when one is enjoying a crepe is easily worth an additional 10%.