White Beauty: the pervasiveness of blonde hair and blue eyes

Blonde haired, blue eyed preference

Nearly every culture tries to construct the perfect person . Eve in the Bible, Pandora, Helen of Troy, Pygmalion’s Bride, Frankenstein’s creature and so on. In particular, the ideal woman is highly sought after. Blonde hair, white skin, blue eyes and an hourglass figure. It’s as though men search for the holy grail of femininity, and women want the elixir to make them the perfect woman. 
1. Classical art

Once again, many a  painting and colour sculpture depicted this. In the Bible and mythical scenes, many women have blonde hair and blue eyes. These traits were considered highly attractive, as timeless beauty. 

2. Victorian/Renaissance beauty

Blonde haired, blue eyed beauties were the subject of poetry and art. Flaxen haire and sapphire blue eyes were considered the epitome of beauty. This beauty ideal seems to date back to Ancient Greece, right up until at least the 20th century. White skin with blue veins was a symbol of royalty and blue eyes and blonde hair were considered divine and godly by the Vikings. People with darker skin and hair were thought of as primitive and feral, or simply plain. 

3. Shulamith Firestone beauty ideal

In ‘The Culture of Romance’, Firestone discusses the need for women to fit into beauty ideals. She knows as well as anyone that they are based on rare qualities. Of course, the blonde has to be platinum or champagne – corn yellow at darkest – and the eyes had to be as blue as the ocean (not just gray, green or violet).

4. Nazi Germany

Surely the nazis are one of the biggest perpetrators here? Their ideal of the perfect race was a nation of blonde haired, blue eyed people. They called it the “Master Race” of pure white people. Because of this, it led to the mass annihilation of Jews.

The “Perfect baby” continued: Viking babies and designer babies

Danish donors are chosen, from a lineup, based upon how blonde their hair eyes and how blue their eyes are. It’s like the latest fashion trend, only for children. One person interviewed by the ever-controversial Daily Mail describes the experience as “easier than adopting a puppy” as the mail says they “go shopping for a father”. Don’t be fooled into the delusion of women choosing to be single mothers having no part in their sperm donations – even the Danes think of themselves as a superior race.

If that’s not bad enough, then designer babies are even worse. Commodifying children as catalogue orders, this ensures that only the best and most desirable traits are cherry picked for their child.

4. The Barbie beauty

Barbie has been criticized for many things – her unnatural body shape and steroetypical traits being just two of these things – but she, too, is another blonde. She represents the typical modern beauty: blonde hair,golden skin, and blue eyes. An almost impossible combination, since many blondes are fair skinned (or, if they’re darker, their hair might be darker too). She’s the reason so many girls get fake tans, bleach their hair and get breast implants. Because of Barbie having both physical and personality traits of the ideal, feminine girl, this has made her a model of beauty for other girls to copy and live up, even into adulthood. 

5. Famous celebrities: Marilyn Monroe

Okay, so there were others like Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn, but many old fashioned stars were blonde and blue eyed like Grace Kelly. The blonde bombshell was very popular in old Hollywood, and perhaps the most famous of them, Marilyn, bleached her hair blonde to be a model. Considered one  of the most beautiful women to have ever lived and a universal sex symbol, her image is deemed one of classical beauty. 

6. Male patriarchy or culture?

Who or what created this beauty ideal? Is women’s beauty defined by men? By women dictating women? Or is it the cosmetics and fashion industries who dictate what we should look like?


The Bluest Eye

The novel by Toni Morrison really highlights the favouritism of Germanic appeal. All the black people in the novel believe that they are ugly, because only blonde haired, blue eyed people are pretty. Pecola, the protagonist, strongly desires blue eyes. Baby Doll women, like Shirley Temple and Jean Harlow, are strongly desired. Not many Postcolonial novels explore the idea of exoticness, but it’s an interesting one.

Dumb Blondes:

Unfortunately, blondes are now ostracised as being foolish and unintelligent. The legacy of women like Marilyn Monroe and Elle Woods continue to feed this image. “But wait, Elle Woods passed the entry test and managed to win a court case” I hear you shout. (True, but remember she was only admitted for her bikini video and Miss Woods only won her case thanks to the habits of perming and gay men failing to recognise a bend and snap. Not with legal evidence such as an email, unbiased eye witness accounts or DNA samples). I don’t care what you say about lawyers bullshitting their way through either; whilst lawyers are known for being manipulative, they certainly don’t do it by having to wait 24 hours until perming (besides, who’s to say she couldn’t have used a shower cap?). I’m not saying that Elle is unintelligent, since as the LSAT test criteria is largely based on logic, reasoning, fact-finding and analytical reasoning, this is a subject largely based on opinions rather than facts. Now, I understand that law is deemed a hard subject because of its abstraction and lack of concrete information. However, this means that someone could be a Sophist – that is, weave up a highly intellectual argument based on false information with sketchy groundings to support this – think Salesman. The point is, Elle’s hair colour says more about her than we want to admit; the fact is, that blonde hair is fashionable, and it’s assumed that someone who is vain is too self absorbed to possibly learn about the outside world or pay attention to anyone else. If it were brown that was the desirable colour, we would have dumb brunettes instead.

Marginalisation of redheads:

Okay, if beauty is based on rare qualities, why are redheads considered unattractive? Well, ever since the Celtic times, redheads were considered fierce and fiery. This is because the Celt tribes, particularly in Scotland, were mostly redheaded. Redheads are less criticised than they used to be, but are not the dominantly. attractive people. 

Beauty is becoming more inclusive, for race, age, gender, culture, body shape and style. However, it may take longer for a truly equal balance, and the advent of Photoshop and social media may present new challenges. 


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