Is Brunette the New Blond?

Hayden Panettiere in Heroes

Hayden Panettiere in Heroes

Blond hair.  Blue eyes.  This has been the cultural and stereotypical look of the innocent “All American Girl” or the ever sexy “Blond Bombshell“.  There are endless cliches for women with blond hair, and most of them add to the stereotype that blond women “have more fun,” are the “girls next door,” etc. Brunette’s on the other hand are stereotyed as serious, buttoned-up, classy, etc.

One of the current trends I am noticing is the rise of the brunette. Not only are brunette actresses/models/singers becoming more prominent, but former blondes are also becoming brunettes. Women in the public eye who have given up their blond locks, their all American identity if you will, include (if only temporarily) Jessica Simpson, Britney Spears, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Carmon Diaz, Kate Bosworth, Ashlee Simpson, and I’m sure I could go on…

So why the dramatic change? Perceptions of beauty often cater to and are shaped by Hollywood.  This  got me thinking about the different ways hair color is characterized in the media.

The first “blond bombshell”  that instantly comes to mind is Marilyn Monroe.  Beauties like Marilyn Monroe are not as prominent as beauties like Angelina Jolie. Besides hair color, Angelina Jolie is  both sexy and demands to be taken seriously.  In contrast, Marilyn Monroe has a lighter persona and her sexiness caputures that attitude.  She’s around to entertain.  It seems the Pam Andersons are getting replaced by the Michelle Fox’s.

Michelle Fox (while often hard to take seriously), like Jolie, ridicules Hollywood.  Marilyn Monroe, on the other hand, fell victim to it, and Pam Anderson often makes desperate attempts to remain a part of it.

Now with beauties like Michelle Fox, Anglina Jolie, Kate Beckinsale – it appears brunettes are the new headturners. Edgy, smart, fierce – are these the new qualities of the All American Woman?  These new qualities relegate the former blond All American Girl to being plastic, passive, and objectified. .

Take the TV show Heroes. Even if you don’t watch the show, you might have seen pics of Hayden Penttierre as a brunette. Well, in the show the characters move back and forth in time. The present Claire (Hayden’s character’s name) is blond and feels helpless. She was attacked and could not defend herself because while her power heals her wounds, it does not protect her or help her defend herself. The blond Claire is a victim.

The future Claire is the brunette one. Future Claire is fierce, agressive, and definietely not a victim. My question is, why did they decide to make her a brunette in order to portray those qualitieis? Her more aggressive nature is obvious regardless of hair color since she is a character in a TV show, and not a star we only see in pictures. Claire could have kept her look while changing her temperment.

Of course, it could simply be that blond hair is out, and brunette hair is now trendy.

My mother (who is blond) crosses her arms at this observation claiming that blond is always in. She believes that blonds truly do have more fun. It is not the color itself (although my mother would say blond catches more attention because it’s brighter), but the attitude that stereotypically goes with it. The California laid back, low maintenance, fun-loving girl with long blond hair, as opposed to her more posh counter part, the woman who feels pressure to be sexy and rebel against objectification (on the cover of Maxim?) all at the same time.

Jessica Simpson and John Mayer

Jessica Simpson and John Mayer

Which brings me back to hair color. Jessica Simpson is a successful singer, arguably. She is also on my list of stars who went from blond to brunette. Jessica was brunette while she was dating John Mayer, who has been considered a more serious musician than herself, and is now blond when dating Tony Romo, the football player. What can one gleen from this? Brunette equals serious, intellectual musician, and blond equals attractive football player arm candy? Jessica’s hair color change could be a coincidence, but it is interesting to examine both our own perception, and the media’s, of the same woman when only her hair color has changed.

I agree with my mom. Blonds are head turners, and people are less intimidated by the fun loving girl than the fierce girl. So then, why are our All American beauties turning to a more edgy look? Like Claire from Heroes, I think we often need an outward change to show an inward one. Women want it all and our new version of wanting it all is not Marilyn Monroe, with her adoring fans and passive beauty. It’s Angelina Jolie – who is both a humanitarean and extremely controversial, and who has a searing beauty and is insanly sexy.

Or maybe, like orange is the new pink, brunette is the new blond.


3 responses to “Is Brunette the New Blond?

  1. Oh yes i noticed that too, but I can’t say if I like one of these looks more, I think it depends on the person: if your skin is pale blonde looks better and if it’s more dark brown 🙂

  2. statementsoffashion

    That’s true. Some people can’t pull off both, or look better in one over the other based on skin tone. However, the women who look good in both, and choose one over the other, or go back–n-forth interests me. Especially since celebrities use their appearance to market themselves.

    Thanks for commenting!

  3. Half the women that have gone from blonde to brunette don’t look as nice in my opinion. They are better suited to blonde.

    Although how gorgeous are Angelina Jolie and Kate Beckinsale?

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