On Blondes by Joanna Pitman [EPUB]
01 February 2015, 18:29
2014 | EPUB | 2.96MB
Pitman, a writer for the London Times, offers a history of the world as seen through abundant locks of magnificent blonde hair, from the ancient sexual power of Aphrodite to the California sun-streaked hair of Farrah Fawcett. In this world history, Eve and Mary Magdalene become the blonde "bad girls" who represent forbidden sexuality, eternal beauty and sin, while Queen Elizabeth and Princess Diana gain attention because they continued to lighten their hair as they aged, attempting to harness the power of blondeness. The examples may sound a bit frivolous, but Pitman takes great care to treat the topic with a serious edge, particularly in the second half of the book.
The obsession with blonde hair may have created seemingly innocuous Hollywood icons like Marilyn Monroe and Jean Harlow, but it also was essential to the notion of Aryan supremacy, and the author addresses how Nazi Germany attempted to lighten the hair of its population by ordering soldiers to procreate with blonde female citizens. Later on, Pitman looks at 1970s ad campaigns for hair dye and their internal conflicts about whether a woman ought to dye her hair to appeal to men or to feel good about herself (as L'Oreal so famously puts it, "Because I'm worth it"). In this way, the book tackles issues of race, gender and class, ultimately asking, "[W]hy is America, a culture so publicly concerned with overcoming its problems with race, still so fixated on the blonde?" Pitman admits there are no clear answers, but she offers a bright, energetic and witty exploration of the topic.
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