one of my favorite collages featuring everyone's favorite blonde
I learned from a young age that you should just label yourself because if you don’t, people are going to just do it for you. It’s one of the harsh realities of life. A label that I wear proudly is being blonde. I was born blonde, and stayed a dirty blonde through middle school.
From a young age, my hair was a burden. It’s always been very thick, very coarse and well, blonde. I was raised on the phrase, “it hurts to be beautiful,” which really applied to having my hair brushed, blown or crimped as a child as it was often annoying and uncomfortable.
(Come on, I was a child of the 80’s).
Being a blonde isn’t easy. As a little girl, I had long platinum, curly hair, much like my hair is now, except now it’s gone through various shades of blonde over the years (platinum blonde, dark blonde, white blonde, ash blonde, golden blonde, yellow blonde and golden blonde), and of course various lengths (the chin length bob, the shaggy bob, the graduated bob, the Girl Interrupted Winona Ryder pixie cut and of course what was one of my favorites, the City of Angels Meg Ryan curly bob).
The stigma of being a blonde is that you’re: stupid, ditzy, absent-minded, or worse promiscuous. Of course, I’m none of those. Sure, I’m a goofball, and I like to laugh, but as a writer, a poet, and a teacher, I know I’m not a dumb blonde. There are certain points in my life where my blondness was brought to my attention.
Let’s have a look at: Leah’s Timeline of Blondness.
When I was seven, my sister was around two and my mom used to douse us in a homemade concoction of Sun-In and lemon juice at the beach. We used to squirm and squeal as she’d lacquer us up as we sat on the sand only to release us to play in the summer sun. It worked. It worked GREAT; however, when your hair dried in the sun, you were left with sticky, dry hair like hay. It wasn’t until you went home and showered that your hair; I mean, your luscious blonde locks were back and gorgeous.
I was eight years old, and I was called a “dumb blonde” for the first time. I was riding my bike down my street and an older boy, who lived down my block, threw a rock at me and called me a “dumb blonde.” We never even had a conversation. I didn’t know when he meant but something told me it was bad, and I cried all the way home. I don’t remember what my parents said to me, or explained to me, but it definitely denoted a certain moment in my life.
At 13, came my Bat Mitzvah and with my Bat Mitzvah came the beginning of REAL hair color: "highlights.” They made me feel glamorous and grown up. My mom and I would get our hair colored together, and it was exciting! Little did I know, my teenage years would lead me down The Hair Color Road of No-Return!!!!
When I was 15, I was made fun of for the second time for being a blonde. Science, was never my best subject, and though I tried and I studied, I was never an A student. The 9th grade brought Earth Science, and I was okay with the rock formations, and the unit about the stratosphere, but when we got into things like the Greenhouse Effect, I got a little confused. I remember being in the back of the room with my friends and my teacher called on me. I didn’t hear him say my name and then I heard him say, “Hey, Clairol #5.” The room suddenly got silent. I saw my teacher waving his arms at me. My friend nudged me and my I felt my eyes filling up with water. I didn’t know the answer to whatever he was asking. I said, “Sorry, I don’t know,” and I was horrified. I couldn’t believe a teacher would do that to a student, nonetheless a teenage girl. At the end of class, he asked me to see him. I told him I was sorry that I was talking and didn’t hear him call my name, but that I was offended he made fun of my hair color. I want to say he apologized, but I honestly don’t remember. What I do remember is this. When I walked back into the hall with my friends, I laughed at the fact that I wouldn’t dare color my hair from a box. It wouldn’t come out right!
1998 to 2010
Between the age of 18 and 30, I’ve been various shades of blonde. The platinum stage was a particular favorite of mine; however, the upkeep drove me nuts. My mother was right, “it hurts to be beautiful,” and with the discovery of red lipstick in my 20’s, and the realization that I actually liked the way it looked on my pale skin, came the feeling that I really enjoyed being a blonde. I defied the stereotype blonde and I knew it. I graduated high school and college with honors. I impressed my parents by going for two, not one, but two graduate degrees and of course by becoming a teacher.
2011- The Present
Now, I never claimed to be a rocket scientist, and never will, but people should know there isn’t a certain “smart look” that people have. When I joined Twitter last March, I glanced through other people’s profiles to see how they categorized themselves. I took it upon myself to add “Blonde” next to “Poet, Writer, Anglophile, etc…” Being a Blonde is being unique. Up until a few years ago, I used to go out on weekends and be one of a million blondes in a bar or a restaurant, but now, the blondes are diminishing. I like being a Blonde. Is it a pain in the ass? Yea, it is, but it feels like me. I’ve thought of changing it up, as I went brunette for a night back when I was twenty and hated it. I’ve had strawberry blonde lowlights, which are still somewhere in my mass of hair; however, I don’t think I’ll ever truly stray away from my blondness.
Ironically, about a month ago I was out with some friends and a close friend of mine said something interesting to me. He said, “Leah, you know you don’t seem like your typical blonde. I mean it’s refreshing. You’re outgoing and friendly but you’re also smart and talented.” He meant it as a compliment, and I was flattered, but because I know the kinds of blondes to which he was referring, I still felt that there was something small and bitter tied into it, whether he intended it or not. Regardless, you have to take things with a grain of salt. (I’m used to it. I’m a poet, rejections come daily in the mail.)
You have to do what you love and be what you love because life is short. On that note, I will end tonight’s post with the lovely words of Frank O’Hara:
All of a sudden all the world
is blonde. The Negro on my left
is blonde, his eyes are brimming
like a chalice, he is melting
Beside me, passed out
on the floor, a novelist burns a hole
in my pants and he is blonde,
even the cigarette is. Some kind
of Russian cigarette.
must be blonde too. And the music
of William Boyce.
Yes, and what
comes out of me is blonde.
-From the Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara, Edited by Donald Allen