I've got a good one for you: How many blondes does it take to pick up a phone?
Because dialing a few digits might have put another stereotype about fair-haired women to rest before it circled the globe this past week. In case you missed the latest "All blondes are ________" memo, let's start from the beginning:
This past weekend the Sunday Times of London published a story about a new study. According to the paper, the study found that today's blondes are short-tempered ice queens
, used to getting their way -- and spoiling for a fight should anyone dare to question them.
The paper called it the "princess" effect: Blondes, born with a sense of entitlement, and used to having others do their bidding, lose their tempers more easily than women of any other hair color.
Before you could say "blonde joke," newspapers in New York had picked up the story, and reporters hit the streets to ask the flaxen-haired whether they thought being born a blonde made them more battle-prone.
The only problem? The British newspaper got it wrong -- more wrong than when a red-faced Mattel was forced to reprogram
their "Math class is tough!"–talking Barbie.
What the study actually measured was whether attractive people anger more easily
. Not one of the papers, apparently, that reprinted the story bothered to call the scientist behind the study to make sure what they published was correct.
And that sure got this blonde's Elle Woods–pink panties in a twist. Because it's not the first time it's happened.
The last blonde study that circled Earth in a nanosecond, only to be unilaterally debunked? Blondes will soon be extinct!
Our recessive alleles, reported the BBC back in 2002, were being trumped by the dominant and dark-haired, and soon someone of my coloring would be rarer than a two-horned unicorn.
Just call us melanin-challenged. That one even sounded plausible, but as The New York Times finally reported, the story, and the study, were faker than your average bottle-dependent member of my tribe.
Then the rumor reared its ugly head again in 2006, when the Sunday Times (ahem, them again) reported that the last natural blonde would likely be born in Finland in 2202. And Stephen Colbert launched a satirical campaign to save our kind.
I ask you: Why are the fair-haired forever in the crosshairs?! Have you ever seen a screaming headline diagnosing the universal character traits of every
redhead, brunette or black-tressed woman on Earth?
While we're at it: Do we -- the dizzy, ditzy, dumb (pick your poison) -- really deserve to have an entire category of jokes devoted to us?
Admittedly, we have our moments. But truly, aren't Chicken of the Sea and Jessica Simpson equally at fault? Tuna, after all, is a fish. And I see how that could get a little confusing.
And, no, we're not necessarily proud to count Ann Coulter, Paris Hilton or even the new, "improved" Heidi Montag among our ranks. But at least we don't have Sarah Palin doing her 100 brush strokes before bed with our team.
The truth is, there are very few things you can say about All Blondes Everywhere. Except maybe these:
1) We're a rare breed.
Of course, nobody's really done the global blonde census either (it's tough when we're always at the beach!), but it's estimated that between just 1 and 6 percent of the world's population is actually blond.
2) We tend to look do-able (but not for the reasons you'd think).
The one thing science will definitively go out on a limb to say about blondes is this:
"Women's hair, at least in North American countries, is lighter when they're younger, and darker as they get older, so blond hair may be a particularly good indicator of youth," says Catherine Salmon, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Redlands California. "At least in a non-hair-dyeing society."
In other words, part of the perennial fascination with blondness may be that, in the time before highlights, lowlights, peroxide, Sun-In and hair extensions, being blond may have been a clue to the cavedudes that you were still fertile.
When she took that idea to the streets, Sally Aitken, director of "The Blonde Mystique
" -- yes, an entire movie dedicated to debunking blonde stereotypes -- found that the hypothesis held up.
When a blonde, a brunette and an African-American woman of the same age all walked into a bar -- people routinely guessed that the blonde was youngest.
Of course, with the arrival of the cougar, all reproductive givens are goners.
3) We like to poke fun at ourselves.
It was a recent visit to Scandinavia that convinced me of this. After my plane touched down, and tall, gorgeous Elin Nordegren look-alikes swarmed the baggage claim, I was floating in a little bubble of bliss.
It had suddenly occurred to me: Here, where nearly everyone was blond, all the stereotypes were moot. For the first time in my life, nobody would assume that I was dumb, fun, sex-crazed or, now, angry and entitled, before I'd even opened my mouth.
Then, one day in downtown Stockholm, I stopped cold in front of a store. In the front window, jauntily displayed, was a red apron emblazoned with the words:
"Sometimes I just have a blonde moment."
And I had to laugh. Even in the land of the light-haired, the blonde joke lived on.
So now my only question is this: Will the jokes, the myths, and the misconceptions actually outlast blondes themselves? Let's hope someone remembers to check back in 2203. Probably a brunette -- aren't they the most dependable?
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