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The naturally intelligent blonde

Middle Class Rage
    By Monica Lesmerises

headshot What do an intelligent blonde and a UFO have in common? You often hear about them, but you never see one.

1994 Bulldog Days sold me on Yale. In three days I met a guy who had partied with the Gore daughters, a serious opera singer, a juggler, and some nice upperclassmen who showed me how to make Rice Krispie treats in the Silliman dining hall (still a useful skill). Though I thought myself an unexciting small-town girl, happily drowning in the midst of endless exciting trivialities, I found that I was somewhat of a novelty in my own right: a blonde.

What do you call a blonde at an institute of higher learning? A visitor.

My pre-frosh host actually said to me in all seriousness, "You know, I never met a smart blonde before." I pondered the causes. Was it demographic? In Yale's recruiting pool--basically, the world at large--were there just fewer blondes than I had assumed?

Why did they stop doing "the wave" at BYU sporting events? Too many blondes were drowning.

Okay, maybe BYU is not particularly diverse. But BYU provides concrete evidence that there are places--universities, no less--where blondes are numerous. In fact, entire geographic regions abound with the fairer-haired. Like Iowa. I have never found a more appropriate "homeland" for myself than the Des Moines airport.

So I attribute the dearth of blondes here not to demographics, but to another cause. There are clearly two categories of blondes: natural and dyed. I've concluded that Yale is mainly organic in its blonde population, giving us fewer per capita blondes.

A spring break trip to Cancun convinced me. There I found an overabundance of blondes from many Southern universities. Women from the University of Texas were not only blond, but tan! This is not natural; most fair-haired people are also fair-skinned. However, blondes as a group seem to defy this rule, since those whose hair comes from a bottle or a salon often have often acquired their skin from the same place. This combo, found on many bikini-clad co-eds in Cancun, made me look even worse: not only was I the only one reading a book on the beach, and one of only two females in a one-piece bathing suit--I was blond and pale as well: a 100 percent organic nerd. I stood out like a polar bear in the desert.

Why are there no dumb brunettes? Peroxide.

Natural blondes and dyed blondes are a world apart. Blond is not in style the same way it was a generation ago, much to my chagrin. When was the last time you heard a man you respect say "I really go for blondes?"

Blond has now become a statement, a reflection of a personality trait. For older women, blond hair can be an attempt at displaying youthful qualities. Everyone knows that natural light-blond hair for a woman over 35 is rarer than a perky bosom. In fact, many of our blonde role models (Pamela Anderson Lee, Madonna, Kathy Kinney) are of this older, artificial sort. These women make a statement with their hair. When they want to be taken seriously, they dye it a darker color. This "blond ambition" taints the truth about the pool of natural, serious, mature blondes.

How did the blonde commit suicide? She put her clothes in a pile and jumped off.

Somewhere along the line, blond hair also became synonymous with vanity, which probably explains why blond hair and intelligence, supposedly, are mutually exclusive. A generation ago, many Americans considered looks and smarts incompatiable. A brilliant woman couldn't also be sexy, and a beautiful woman couldn't have anything except air inside her head. Though these perceptions have changed, deep down, many people still harbor a gut reaction to blondes. This is certainly not helped by an increase in convincing blond hair-coloring treatments. Real blondes and fakers can be distinguished with less certainty, leaving any given blonde's actual state ambiguous.

Why did God give blondes two percent more brains than horses? He didn't want them pooping in streets during parades.

Smart blondes and dumb blondes alike can laugh at blonde jokes. Smart blondes know a little self-deprecation never hurt anyone. In fact, a blonde telling a good blonde joke is often exonerating. So tease us blondes all you want. We'll laugh at you harder when you're bald. At least the vacuum in our heads keeps the hair sucked in.

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