Original article published in Cosmopolitan.
She wears short skirts, I wear T-shirts
She’s cheer captain and I’m on the bleachers.
— 2016 presidential candidate Taylor Swift
Last night I Instant Netflixed an episode of American Horror Story in which an evil little girl murders people, in the style of real-life Mary Bell, with long, dark Wednesday Addams braids. And this morning Reese Witherspoon returned to her blonde locks after her brief, ill-fated stint as a brunette. OK, in Reese’s case it’s a pretty clear PR-recommended move to erase her arrest from everyone’s mind. Nevertheless, what’s with the zeitgeisty demonization of dark-haired ladies?
I guess we have Archie Comics’ Betty and Veronica to blame for the blonde/brunette dichotomy (although, unfortunately, I can’t say that the concept of two smoking hot, smart, female friends of varying pigmentations fighting over an unremarkable ginger for decades is only confined to comic books). While Betty was a down-to-earth tomboy who could change a tire and “always tried to do the right thing,” Veronica was a high-maintenance, scheming rich girl. (But don’t hate on her. Like Jessica Rabbit, she was just drawn this way.) We all knew Archie would end up with good-girl Betty. Incidentally, while all of the boys in Archie comics had different facial features, Betty and Veronica’s were identical. Hello, Freud.
The grand tradition continued from our parents’ adolescence to our own — case in point: Blair and Serena on the first few seasons of Gossip Girl — and even hair textures come into the female stereotype mix. On Sex and The City, blonde Carrie brings up The Way We Were to lambast Mr. Big’s “perfect,” icy new brunette wife Natasha. (Basically, Veronica in 3D.)
Miranda: “But he can’t be with her because she’s too complicated, and she has wild curly hair. So he leaves her and marries this…simple girl. With straight hair.”
Carrie: “Ladies, I am having an epiphany. The world is made up of two types of women: the simple girls, and the Katie girls. I am a Katie girl.
(Incidentally, short of a mohawk or an actual shape buzzed up against his skull, I have never heard any kind of assumptions about men’s personalities based on their hair color or hair texture. “His hair is straight, so he must be boring.” Whaaaat?)
In Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me,” Good Blonde Tay-Tay bounces around her bedroom in nerd glasses, Converse and tie-dyed T-shirts while Bad Brunette Tay-Tay – who SO was half a virgin last year! – walks around in stiletto heels and B*tch Face and lets the boy next door get to third base in the back of her convertible.
BUT CAN’T [HE] SEEEEEEE HE BELONGS WITH [HERRRRRRR]?! (Spoiler alert: Yes.)
So there’s no question why blondes have more fun — everyone assumes us dark-haired ladies are either waiting for a guy to drape his coat over a sidewalk puddle or stabbing a 4th grade playmate with a pair of kitchen scissors.