BY MELINDA MCLELLAN
Gentlemen prefer blondes. But gentlemen marry brunettes. Or so the sayings go. The debate has raged for, well, a while now, as to whether or not blondes really do have more fun. I’d always suspected we did, but I was biased and had been blonde by inertia for a long time. Though it had served me well, the time had come for something new. Following in the footsteps of Nikki Hilton and Ashlee Simpson, I just had to get out from under the shadow of my famous blonde porn/reality star sister. I decided to take drastic action. I dyed my hair brunette.
I certainly was not looking to increase my prospects for marriage by making this dramatic appearance change, but I didn’t want to wind up a wallflower, either. I’d always liked the attention I had gotten with blonde hair, and was a little reluctant to give that up. Then again, having realistically considered present circumstances, I concluded that I couldn’t get any more single than I already am, and even if the dark and mysterious look didn’t reverse my fortunes, it certainly couldn’t make things worse.
Always willing to sacrifice myself for science, er, a column, er, my own amusement, I resolved to take the plunge and go brunette for my 27th birthday three weeks ago. I spent nearly four hours at Gino’s in Harvard Square and emerged a new woman. A new, very dark-haired, totally freaked out, woman. A woman who, still quite blonde on the inside, kept running into glass from staring at the weird new head on her shoulders.
I have to say, however, that I could not immediately discern whether or not I was having more or less fun. I could only tell that I was hideously self-conscious because I had the impression everyone was staring at me. So I holed up with my computer and, employing the unofficial but helpful and eminently facile Google research approach, determined that blondes do seem to have more fun, by about a factor of three. For the phrase “brunettes have more fun” Google returned 11,800 hits. In contrast, for “blondes have more fun” there were 38,300 hits. Case closed? Hardly.
To rebut that factoid with an equally worthless bit of information, in a spurious experiment conducted in Germany, Professor Hans Juergens found that “men associate blondes with marriage and washing powder but brunettes with sex.”
Apparently when Professor Juergens placed an advertisement posing alternately as a blonde or brunette 26 year-old woman looking for marriage, “[t]he men wanted to bed the dark-haired women, but were thinking of sharing their lives or building a house with the blonde.”
The Professor also found that commercial advertisements reflect this purported preference, with household cleaning product ads regularly featuring blonde models, while brunettes were more often used to advertise chocolate and liquor. Frankly, I’d rather be associated with Kahlúa and Godiva than Lysol and Swiffer, but I’m not sure I’m entirely on board with the Professor’s conclusions. After all, we’re talking about Germans. And isn’t there some kind of chicken-and-egg problem when media manipulation is involved?
Closer to home, as reported by VH1’s “Best Week Ever” in late September 2004, several Hollywood leading ladies such as Renée Zellweger, Charlize Theron, and Reese Witherspoon all recently went dark. Yes, even Reese. So when Legally Blonde herself made the switch, I started to wonder what was holding me back. It’s just hair, after all. Then the inimitable Mandy Moore, paragon of perspicacity, when asked about her sudden change from blonde to brunette, reportedly concluded, “I think brunettes have more fun.”
I highly recommend that anyone with the moxie give a whole new hair color a twirl. If I can cite any real evidence that being a brunette is more fun, it comes from the reactions I’ve gotten around campus and from my friends and family. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Then again, people always say they like your new hair. There’s some kind of social convention, I think, that dictates that one has to remark upon, and compliment, any noticeable hair change. So if you like attention, try altering your color by about four hundred shades. Almost everyone will notice and say something – it turns out to be a great conversation starter. Though, amazingly, at least a few people will actually ask, “did you do something to your hair?”
Another certain percentage of people will either not notice, or not say anything. Which is funny in its own right.
It’s gotten to the point, actually, that I’m wondering why I waited so long to go to the dark side. In truth I really liked being a blonde, I was just bored. And looking to satisfy my inner attention whore. But with so many people raving about how great the new cherry-chocolate color is, how it brings out my eyes, how they just luuuuv it, well, I’m starting to feel bad for the old me who was stuck with the yellow mop for so long.
So far I’d say brunette me is just as much of a troublemaker as blonde me was, and she’s having proportionally the same amount of fun, third year paper and late winter weather notwithstanding. Unfortunately, she’s not a better dancer, though I had high hopes that she might be.
In the end, fun has nothing to do with being flaxen or raven. I would contend that makeover-style appearance changes can be fun in their own right, and could boost a person’s fun quotient up several percentage points regardless of which end of the spectrum she chooses. But color alone tells us nothing. Ann Coulter is a blonde. Angelina Jolie is brunette. Who would you rather hang around?
As the story goes, Hugh Hefner was once asked whether blondes really have more fun.
His reply? “They do with me!”
Right on, Hef.
Melinda McClellan is a 3L who was fired from the M&M factory for throwing out the Ws. Let her know what you think of her new look at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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