Lately, I have been always thinking about one thing on women body: the hair. I have started to think more about people perceptions on the hair color. Is that the blond hair that a big deal? In my country Vietnam, we are all in black hair so I didn’t know about different perceptions regarding hair colors before. We may care about long hair, short hair straight hair, curly hair, silky hair or dry hair etc. It could be that in Vietnam, hair color is still homogenous. When we mention about any hair color apart from the black color, we know that we are mentioning ‘unnatural hair color’, and from the way people talk, I can see the less-admiration shown because people know that this is not natural hair color and you can get that color so easily after a on-day trip in salon. When they compliment ‘your brown color is so beautiful’, in other words, that sentence means ‘the hair salon you went is seriously good.’ When I was younger, all the girls around me comment about straight hair, curly hair, or boys like long hair rather than short hair (still true for today. Sigh). Until I went to Finland, I started to see a different land of hair color. Yellow, brown, slightly red, and then… light yellow like straw. As one of very few Asian students in my class (back to 2008 , 2009), my black hair seemed to be the odd one out. But to be honest, comparing to other Western countries, hair colors in Finland are still homogenous, only better than in Asia.

In my university in Finland, I started to hear about more comments about hair colors. “Hey, Pekka has the lightest hair color in the class. I can’t see his eyebrows,” said my friend kiddingly when seeing that guy. Or, another girl would say ‘ I have to dye my hair more often to get a better blond hair’. That’s when I realize how the hair color matters to people around me. Blonde and brunet are the types of girls that people normally mention. And yes, the blond color seems to be remarkable and noticeable. When I went to Tokyo with two other Finnish girls for our exchange program, I backed to the land of black heads and I felt less odded out. In Tokyo, I would see girls with black to slight brow, or slight red hair colors. And in Tokyo, I saw the magic power of blond hair again!

The thing is Asian people are obsessed with Western looks, and … WE (yes, including me) perceive the Western looks as highest examples of beauty and royalty. Asian people try to impress that we value our beauty the most: small feet, small waist, porcelain skins, and silky black hair. However, the obvious truth is we are always get amazed by the Western beauty. Western fever. Is it a correct term?

One time, I asked my Finnish friend about her first morning commuting trip to school, she said in her embarrassment with a hint of pride “ Well, it’s so awkward in the train. The people in the train kept looking at me and my flatmate (another yellow-haired Finn). Two blond girls.” [Sigh, and smile] That’s the time I came to my sense again. In Finland, I was the odd one out, the subdue one of all, because I was the minority. However, when my friend came to the land where her hair was the minority, she became the noticed one, a drop dead gorgeous blond girl. In the parties of Tokyo that we went or sometimes even on streets, some Japanese girls rushed out to us and asked her “Your hair is so beautiful. You look like a princess. May I take a photo with you?” I’m sure they were fans of Tokyo Disneyland! Of course, my Finn friend would smile shyly and accept the request.I was always the cameraman. Like the fan meeting a celeb on streets.  I felt like I was a bodyguard to a celebrity (in Hollywood), or the maid to princess (Austria, mid-18th century). Oh, don’t get me wrong. I was not jealous of her. Not an inch. It’s just that hair color used to be the last thing I noticed on people behaviors. The boys get hype up on a pair of big boobs, or the endlessly long legs, or the round, juicy butt. Or they would whisper with each other about a pretty face, big round eyes. Not hair color. And now thanks to her, I started to observe more on what people think about hair color, esp blond color.

1920's Maybelline Ads 004 (From the picture of PhyllisHarver. She was famous for “Her hair is a curly mass of golden corn silk. Her eyes are cerulean blue. Her teeth are perfect pearls. ”  

In the Western, yes, blond is the outstanding example of beautiful hair color. That’s what I have drawn out from my observation (my bias observation). But lets see how bias my findings can be now.

  1. The name is so important.

In neutral color tones, the hair has fairly yellow color, right? And it has a term specially designed for pale yellow hair: blonde. How’s about other hair colors? The other common terms for hair colors are brunette (yes, the runner-up is here), redhead (hmmmm, not a fair word for beautiful red hair), noirette (beautiful black hair, but seriously, people use that word that commonly??). Blonde, brunette and noirette are all terms that English borrow from French. However, I always see the blonde and brunette are most commonly used. And from what I read and hear, the word ‘blonde’ is always used with a little affection and adoration coming along, and slight implication about either sexiness or classiness, and … stupidity(which will be in point 3). In meanwhile, the word ‘brunette’ is used with implication about prettiness and the impression that ‘she is a kind girl!’ (But in reality, I have seen so many bitches, cranky girls with brown hair) Feel free to judge me. I’m intuitive about language. So, to me, ‘blond’ alway seems different.

  1. To get a blond hair is on ad campaigns and one of the first acts in feminist ad campaigns.

One of the most famous ad campaigns about women beauty product comes from Miss Clairol hair color kit. The famous slogan is ‘ Does she or doesn’t she? Only her hairdresser knows for sure.’ And later, Clairol wrote lines for Lady Clairol cream bleach hair color:” Is it true blondes have more fun?” and “If I’ve only one life, let me live it as a blonde.” And in the L’Oreal campaign to compete with Clairol in the hair color product, the ads featured BLOND actress with the famous slogan ‘Because I’m worth it’. At that time (1950s) both the ad campaigns sent a strong feminist message that they had absolute rights to dye hair blonde as long as they liked. And a subtle message (or pressure) to all the consumers is ‘blonde is gooood’. Today, people will mock with the term ‘double standards’. But I give no judgment here; I just give my observations.

fd406e0be6f101c288da682cb89c42b0 1960-Clairol-Hair-Color-woman-w-style-Ad


3. For the sake of the word ‘blonde’

Till now, I still can’t get why people tend to think beautiful girls have no brains. Like what Daisy said in The Great Gatsby: “ I hope she’ll be a fool—that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.” The quote has a deeper meaning, it is about Daisy’s personality: she could be a fool herself for being a product of a social environment in 1920s for implying that a girl can have more fun for being beautiful and simplistic. The sentence again pointed that Daisy is a fool and beautiful. And it’s just like double again: Daisy was a beautiful girl and she was foolish so she said that. And now, people still use ‘blonde’ for types of foolish girls. Because blonde is beautiful, and being beautiful means being silly. Honestly, I still don’t get the connection between beautifulness and stupidity.I would always either adore a girl for her beauty or her intelligence. And when a girl is both beautiful and intelligent, I adore twice times!

Back to the usage of ‘blonde’, so now you see how the word ‘blonde’ and yellow hair have affected the Western culture. In Asia, people would always say something like ‘oh long legs yet short brains’ or ‘pretty faces with no brains’. Also biased about beauty, but in Asia , we don’t have that sentence like ‘yeah, black head’ to mean stupidity because everyone has black hair haha. Homogeneity wins or fails here?

As Tina Fey wrote in her book Bossypants, “blond has magic”, the word blond really has magic: it makes people adore yellow hair and degrade it at the same time. Blonde is beautiful, and so blonde is boring? Hmm.

About me, it seems that I always turn a blind eye to blonde hair. I don’t know why. It’s my natural beauty-dar then. May be I’m more on the side of non blonde? See:

  • Natalie Portman or Scarlet Johansson => Natalie.
  • Jenifer Aniston or Angelie Jolie => hmm, none
  • Amanda Seyfried or Amanda Bynes => always Amanda Bynes
  • Kate Upton or Cara Delevinge => Cara
  • Chloe Moretz or Emma Watson => They are all so pretty. But I happen to adore Emma seriously.
  • Marilyn Monroe or Audrey Hepburn=> Both. I like Marilyne as I find her sexy, bubbly and … pitiful. I love Aundrey as I find her pretty and have a kindred spirit. Seriously.
  • Blonde Barbie or Brunette Barbie => Winne the Pooh! (aha, sorry Barbie, your body seriously freaks me out! And there, Pooh is a blonde,  a top-to-toe blonde!:D See, so I’m not bias !)
  • loreal-2008-blonde-scarlett-johansson-adsnatalie-portman-advertisement-dior-1058

So, in nutshell, that’s how blond hair plays a part in Western culture, and our Asian are starting to pick up the trend. Back to the time I was in Tokyo, when my Japanese friends asked me where I studied and I answered Finland, more than half of my friends responded that “Oh Wow, all of blond hair, blue eyes, right? The sun hardly goes there.” HAH HAH. And yes, the blond does have magic because not many Asian people can look good with blonde hair. Marilyn Monroe dyed her hair blonde then she became the bombshell. But for Asian, it would be either super good or super bad, a hit or a miss. Asian people can look dashing with red, purple, brown hairs, but it’s not that easy for blonde hair. “OMG, he looks like a spoiled potato with white mold top,” commented my mother while pointing to an Asian boy just dyed his hair blonde. MOM, PLEASE!

And don’t you dare to tell Asian people to stick around our natural black hair! I have enough of some Westerns in Vietnam complained that we ruin our BEAUTIFUL black hair color and dyeing  hair is nothing more than trying-too-much attitude of Asian people. Seriously, let us (Asian) do anything we want to the hair “BECAUSE WE DESERVE IT” (loosely based on a famous tag line for L’Oreal hair color kit  ). And to all the girls in this fucked-up planet :