Amazing Things You Didn't Know About Natural Blondes
1. Nobody Knows for Sure What a "Natural Blond" Is
If you Google "natural blond," two things become immediately apparent:
- There is no universally agreed-upon definition for this phrase or a standard measurement that can be applied to determine whether or not a person can be officially called blond or not. Individually, people have formed their own ideas about what constitutes a blond's "naturalness": some say that anyone who was born blond is naturally blond, even if their color darkens over time, while others believe that the term can only apply to those who retain their blondness into adulthood. Additionally, how blond a blond has to be in order to hold that title is up for interpretation.
- Google thinks this question is only relevant to women (if you type the question into Google, it will auto-correct your spelling and show you results for what is a "natural blonde," and blond with an e refers to women).
2. Blondness Is a Lot Rarer Than You Think
Of course you know that most blond-haired people you meet were not born that way, but did you know that only 2% of people worldwide, and only about 1 in 20 in the U.S., are natural blonds? That's because 1 in every 3 women bleach their hair. Fewer men do, but their numbers are rising!
3. Having Blond Hair With Brown Eyes Is Even Rarer
Just because a person is born blond doesn't mean they have blue eyes. Blue or green eyes are the norm, but blond with brown eyes happens, too (and the effect is rather stunning)!
4. Natural Blonds Have More Hair
Blondies have approximately 120,000-147,000 hairs on their heads compared to their dark-haired friends, who have 100,000-120,000. This make sense, since darker hair contains more melanin, so it also provides more of a protective barrier from the sun, which means brunettes need less hair to protect their scalps from UV damage.
5. Blondness Is Not Reserved for Those With European Ancestry
Blond hair is most common in Scandinavia and around the Baltic Sea, where it is believed that blondism originated. But they're not the only blonds. 10% of the dark-skinned Melanesian population of the Solomon Islands is born with naturally blond hair. Aboriginal Australians also have often have natural blond-to-brown hair, with as many as 90% of children born blond in some areas.
6. Most Blond Hair Darkens Over Time
Most naturally-blond children's hair starts to darken with puberty because the amount of eumelanin in the hair increases with maturity. In addition, a woman who remains blonde through puberty may see a permanent darkening of her skin and hair after her first pregnancy. Of course, most people go gray at some point, so the period of blondness can be quite brief, overall.
7. Blonds Are Less Blond In Winter
Most blond people see a noticeable darkening of their tresses during the colder months, when there is less UV exposure to work its bleaching magic. Some natural blondes look brunette half the year!
8. Blonds Are NOT Going Extinct
Fake news oftentimes eclipses reality, and there was a rumor going around several years ago that claimed that blond people would become extinct by the year 2202. Many reputable media sources, like the BBC and The Sunday Times, parroted the false factoid which they erroneously attributed to the World Health Organization. The rumor was parroted from 2002 to 2006, and it is still being cut-and-pasted and repeated today. The hoax became so widespread that Snopes stepped in to set the record straight.
Women in Ancient Rome tried to bleach their hair with pigeon poop; in Renaissance Venice, they used horse urine.
9. Blond Hair Is the Most Fragile and Prone to Damage
Even undyed/unbleached blond hair tends to be weaker than other colors. As a general rule, brown hairs are thicker than blond ones but thinner than red. Naturally blond hair is usually the finest (and therefore the softest) and also the most easily damaged.
10. There Were Naturally Blond People in Ancient China
The Caucasiod, blond-haired Tarim mummies, which were discovered in the Taklamakan desert of China, date from 1800 BCE.
More Amazing Facts About Blond Hair
- Blond beards grow faster than dark ones.
- As they get older, blonde women are more prone to macular degeneration, a condition that can cause blindness.
- Blonds produce less melanin, and this makes their skin more susceptible to cancer.
- The genetic mutation that led to blondism occurred about 11,000 years ago, around the last ice age.
I'm not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know I'm not dumb... and I also know that I'm not blonde.— Dolly Parton
Fascinating Facts About Being Blonde
Being Blonde Pays More $
- Blondes Get Paid More: A 2010 study from the Queensland University of Technology looked at 13,000 white women and found that blonde employees earn more than 7% more than white females with any other hair color.
- Blondes Marry Money: According to a study authored by David Johnston, blondes marry men who earn an average of 6% more than the husbands of women with other hair colors.
- Blonde Restaurant Servers Get Better Tips: In a survey of 482 waitresses conducted in 2009 by Cornell University, blonde women earned higher tips.
Most of the Most Powerful Females in the U.S. Are Blonde
Is blonde ambition just the catchy name of Madonna's biopic, or is it something more? Think about it. The first woman to win the popular vote for the President of the United States (Hillary Clinton) was a blonde, as was the first woman to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court (Sandra Day O'Conner). Think Meg Whitman, Marissa Mayer, Susan Wojcicki, Angela Ahrendts, Arianna Huffington, and so on, and the fact that female university presidents are more likely to be blond, and you'll see where I'm going with this.
According to a study, described in a 2016 Huffington Post article, Why an Outsized Number of Blondes Are Leading the Country, by Jennifer Berdahl and Natalya Alonso, two business school professors at the University of British Columbia, not only are 48% of female CEOs at the top 500 companies blonde, but 35% of female senators, too. I'm not sure about other countries, but the more powerful Margaret Thatcher became, the blonder she got.
On her blog, Berdahl unpacks what this study could mean: “Our data suggest that blonde women are not only assumed to be younger than their darker-haired counterparts, but are also judged to be less independent-minded and less willing take a stand than other women and than men,” she writes. “In other words, Barbie can be CEO as long as she is young and/or docile, or being blonde might allow her to be older and more forceful than she otherwise could be.”
If you dig deeper, you'll begin to see a connection between blondness, whiteness, privilege, youth, and power. I'm not suggesting that these powerful women are all "natural" blondes or that blonde women are genetically predisposed to success. I don't know which came first: the power or the blondness. But there is an unexamined societal belief that connects female power and blondness, one that that those of us who are blonde by choice are probably hoping—consciously or not—to benefit from.
“If women are choosing to dye their hair blonde, there’s something strategic about the choice.”— Jennifer Berdahl, author, researcher, and professor at the University of British Columbia
- The European Map of Blondness
- Political Peroxide, Blonde Privilege by Amy Larocca, in the New York Magazine August 7, 2017.
- Researchers Find That Female CEOs and Senators Are Disproportionately Blond by Christina Cauterucci, Slate Magazine, August 25, 2016.
© 2017 Jo Tucker