Photo above by J.S.
Did you hear about the blonde who shot an arrow into the air? She missed.
You’ve heard it before. A dumb blonde. It is one of the most well known long-standing punchline jokes of all time.
The article “8 Stereotypes About Blondes You Never Knew Were Wrong” lists the most common ones.
- They are dumb.
- They are promiscuous.
- They have more fun.
- They are icy.
- They are popular.
- They don’t have common sense.
- They are superficial.
- They are shopaholics.
But maybe there is a science behind it? Could these actually be true?
In case you are having a blonde moment, the answer is no. Researchers have found zero links between hair color and IQ score, in fact a recent study found blondes had a IQ score of 103.2 while brunettes averaged 101.2. Well where did this association between stupidity and being a blonde come about?
Blondes have had a stereotype over their head since the 1800’s when a British group began performing a spoof of the play Ixion, that featured four blondes who were depicted as “girls that were talentless wretches celebrated only for their bodies.” This perception of blondes has carried out hundreds of years, and even progressed with new associations. Blondes were considered more attractive and desirable than brunettes because of the uniqueness of the blonde hue.
The roots of the term “dumb blonde” can be traced back to Europe. A French prostitute named Rosalie Duthé, was mocked in a 1775 play called Les curiosites de la Foire because she would pause for periods of time before or while speaking. This made her look rather “dumb”. Blondes have been victims of degrading, sexist remarks ever since.
This misleading stereotype not only can offend it’s targets but can also affect the ability for a blonde to get authoritative jobs in the workplace. Employers are often biased to hiring brunettes over blondes because of the sometimes subconscious belief that blondes are less competent and capable of doing a job. A study was completed in the United Kingdom by Margaret B. Takeda in 2004 called Hair Colour Stereotyping and CEO Selection: Can You Name Any Blonde CEOs?. Its results were horrific. The study recorded hair color of CEOs for 500 companies. Out of these 500 CEOs, only 11 were blonde. That’s 2.2%. There were 17 red-haired CEOs (3.4%) and the remaining 460 (92%) had brown or black hair.
Another interesting study in Germany in 2004 found that blondes performed significantly worse on basic tests after reading blonde jokes. This exhibits the stereotype effect which is a situation when an individual feels they may be conforming to a certain stereotype which effects performance. This shows just how damaging a few blonde jokes could be on say a person who is about to take their ACT. They may not be offended by the joke, or they might even come back with a better one. But deep down, subconsciously, there is a negative effect being applied to the individual’s performance.
On a different note, I surveyed my peers on a quest to find out the way the people around me perceive blondes. I asked a mixture of males and females to name the first 3 words they thinks of when they think of blondes in general. This is a few of the answers.
“Fun, cute, dumb” -LR
“Stupid, pretty, girly” -SR
“Idiot, Reese Witherspoon, slut” -TL
“Gullible, fake, dumb” -HO
“Air-head, butt, jokes”-KM
“Dumb, ditzy, innocent” -MS
“Beautiful, superior, big” -JF
“Nice, kind, caring” -AB
“Sassy, judgmental, greasy” -CB
“Dumb, hot, stupid” -BN
“Girl, fashionable, verbose” -CB
“Dumb, babe, impersonal” -CA
“Preppy, dumb, fashionable” -NE
“Dumb, hot, tan” -SK
“Hot, big-boobs, wavy-hair” -TL
“Lacking a personality”- KO
Blondes were described similarly across the board. Females often commented on blondes’ personality more than looks. Whereas males often saw blondes as an appearance and having a lack of a personality.
The blonde stereotype has advantages and disadvantages. Advantages include that blondes get more attention, they are seen as more desirable, attractive, and unique. But the disadvantages include being dubbed dumb, incompetent, incapable, ditzy and promiscuous.
But blondes are not the only victims to hair-color discrimination. Brunettes, red-heads and even black-heads (yes, eww) are stereotyped as well.
What do you call a brunette in a room full of blondes? Invisible. (Anne-Marie Guarnieri)
Ba-dum-tss. There are stereotypes for all hair colors. For example I surveyed the same people only this time the topic was brunettes. Here are a few answers.
“Sexy, smart, passionate” -CA
“Athletic, tan, glasses” -TL
“Nerdy, passionate, energetic” -CB
“Gorgeous, smart, perfect” -HO
“Natural, ethnic, typical” -CB
“Smart, cool, relaxed” -BN
“Plain, smart, athletic” -KO
If you read all of the above you will notice one thing. There is not one negative or offensive description of brunettes.
There are far more brunettes in the world than blondes which backs up the plain and typical stereotype for brunettes. 91% of the blonde population died their hair to achieve the color, which could also contribute to a relation between blonde and being fake, or superficial. But it is interesting how the entire population immediately thinks dumb when they think of blondes and smart when they think of brunettes when there is absolutely no relation between intelligence and hair color.
Watch below for a clip from the classic Mean Girls featuring the ultimate blonde stereotype, Regina George.
Now if you have paid attention you would have learned that none of the stereotypes for hair colors are completely true. Except for maybe one…
Blondes do tend to have bit more fun. 🙂