Blondes vs. Brunettes: Age-old debate revisited

By Sofi Kerpan

Allison Hobaugh, Div. 181, had been a blonde her entire life. Her coiffure was compromised when she went to the dark side this November: she dyed her hair darker in want of change. As the chemicals steeped in her hair for approximately half an hour, she anxiously awaited the results of the treason she had just committed against her formerly fair locks: chestnut brown. Her boyfriend liked her better blonde, but she has been basking in her transformation in the meantime.

“I like brunette more. I’m going to stay like this for a while,” Hobaugh said. “I still get the dumb blonde jokes, regardless.”

In the opposite position, Chelsea Lombardo, Div. 170, is a natural brunette that has been blonde for a year. She prefers her “powerful” lighter look, but has picked up on the attitude many seemingly have towards blondes.

“Teachers are more surprised when I give an intelligent answer in class. They’re like, ‘Oh, wow’,” she said.

Indeed, each hair color comes with its fair share of stereotypes. Blondes are thought to be dumb, easy, and superficial, but at the same time friendly, fun-loving, and attractive. Brunettes carry a reputation for being average, quiet, and boring, but also mysterious, intelligent, and classy. British hairdresser Andrew Collinge conducted a poll recently that surveyed 3,000 men. It concluded that men would prefer to date blondes, but find brunettes to be wife-material.

The history of this debate is long-running. In the early period of the Roman Empire, blonde hair was associated with prostitutes, who would wear blonde wigs or dye their hair, while the elite were typically brunette. According to a study conducted at three Japanese universities, the creation of blonde hair can be traced to a genetic mutation originating in an isolated area of Europe 11,000 years ago, during the last Ice Age. The Encyclopedia of Hair points out that 14th century depictions of Eve are usually blonde, while the Virgin Mary is usually brunette. In 1907, a French chemist began to manufacture hair dye in his Paris flat. It was a dangerous process that caused headaches and scalp burns. It was hardly unusual for the hair to break off during the process.

In modern times, the debate was intensified with the 1925 novel Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, by Anita Loos. The poster child for blonde hair and sex appeal, Marilyn Monroe, would later star in a film of the same name. Filmmakers appreciated the vibrancy of blonde hair in black-and-white films. Loos later wrote a sequel entitled Gentlemen Marry Brunettes. The Betty and Veronica comics have fueled a battle of light versus dark tresses since 1942. Wonder Woman typified the raven-haired bombshell image, a precursor to Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft. Seventy-six percent of American women believe that the first female president will have brown hair, according to a survey taken by Allure magazine.

Certainly, there are exceptions to the stereotypes. Media has presented brunettes that many consider to be sophisticated, such as Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Kennedy-Onassis, Angelina Jolie, and Sophia Loren. But the public has not reserved their feelings about Sarah Palin or Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi. In the same way, Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson, and Heidi Montag are not often likened to Grace Kelly, Hilary Clinton, or Princess Diana.

The young men of Lane Tech have varied preferences.

Cameron Diaz or Penelope Cruz? Scarlett Johansson or Kim Kardashian? Jessica Alba or Blake Lively?

“Cameron. Scarlett. Blake. I’m sorry Kim, I still love you! I’m going with the blondes,” said Preston Oshita, Div. 178. “I don’t know if it’s just a phase [I’m going through]. The hair brings out the skin and the eyes are always on point,” Oshita said.

“I have a track record with more blonde girls than brunettes,” said Henry Daugherty, Div. 459.

There are others who like a chocolate mane.

“Kim K. all day,” said Christophe Francois, Div. 183.

“Kim! Pretty. Rich family. I think she might have a mind of her own,” said Olu Agunloye, Div. 285.

Others find no correlation here.

“One who determines who they prefer based on the complexion of their hair is, quite frankly, ignorant. Judging a person upon their physical beauty is one thing,” said Luis Cruz, Div. 167. “It is what captivates most at first glance.”

“I don’t have a preference. I love women. I love hair. As a matter of fact, curly, straight, wavy…as long as it looks good,” said Dylan Allingham, Div. 170.

Allingham has no hue bias, but admits he fancies a natural look.

“It’s not a turn off [when a girl’s hair color is not natural], but its like, ‘Aw, really?’ I think natural is way sexier,” said Allingham.

Wyatt Sugrue, Div. 185, has a certain hue in mind, neither blonde nor brunette.

“My dream girl entails Erykah Badu with big, Irish, red hair,” said Sugrue.

Sugrue has also experienced both hair colors, having formerly bleached his hair as part of a tradition of the Boys’ Swim Team. He has since returned to his dark roots.

“I would rather be brunette. I would never go back to blonde. I looked crazy. If I had blonde hair and blue eyes people would think I was German, and then my Irish swag would be thrown off,” Sugrue said.

Interestingly enough, these stereotypes seem to adhere more to women than to men. Why?

“Girls tend be a lot more concerned about their hair than guys. I would guess that these stereotypes were made up by, and for, girls,” said Daugherty.

The embodiment of these stereotypes at Lane is questionable, though many find some truth in it.

“I see that there are girls that act stupid and give in to the expectations of a blonde for a guy’s attention,” said Lombardo.

Lane’s population has uneven distribution of the hues, but Charlie Habert, Div. 374, finds a half-truth despite this.

“There are not a whole lot of blonde girls because of our Hispanic population. It is an even split when it comes to the stereotype. I know some smart blondes, and some really dumb brunettes. But I know dumb blondes just as well,” Habert said.

The stereotype does not sit well with blondie Hannah Viti, Div. 266, who sees little truth in it at Lane.

“I would like to see the stereotype of the dumb blonde vanish, but Rome wasn’t built in a day,” Viti said.

Though their stereotypical personas differ, blondes and brunettes share an equivalence of difficulties. While dark-haired girls may have to go the extra mile to stand out amongst a luminescent Goldilocks, roots and hair damage are a visible priority for the fair-haired.

“I have to get my roots done every four to five weeks, and it takes three hours,” Lombardo said.

“I knew a girl who bleached her hair so much that she said it started to feel like rubber. She had to cut it all off,” said Hobaugh.

In the end, each tint presents a good argument.

“As a blonde, I feel accomplished. They get noticed more. They’re fun. And I’m a natural blonde, so I have more fun anyways,” said Kerry Skrobo, Div. 185.

“Being brunette is sultry and provocative,” said Gena Wojtal, Div. 282.

Whether hot cocoa or champagne, consensus shows that hair color can prompt expectations. Not very thirsty? Go bald!