Growing Up Blond

Recounting my childhood as a blond little girl

Story by Addison Cross, news editor

“Dumb blonde” was a common phrase thrown around when I was growing up. To put my childhood in context, my parents divorced, my dad was overseas, and I was practically raised by an older brother who was constantly proving that he was better than me. Being a blond little girl didn’t help my case.

I adopted a very tomboy persona: I only wore ponytails, played with action figures instead of Barbie dolls and vomited at the sight of anything pink. I had to adjust my likings to those of my brother in hopes of less torment; the only validity I felt was in the “boyish” things I enjoyed. And, while there’s nothing wrong with a girl playing with action figures or enjoying superheroes, I was suppressing a side of myself that later on came out.

Through my childhood interests — mostly Star Wars and all things DC Comics — I saw a lot of strong female role models, but none I could fully identify with. Padme Amidala, the leading lady of the Star Wars prequels and my childhood hero, was a brunette, as were Wonder Woman and Princess Leia. I was surrounded by strong, intelligent, brunette women. My problem, however, was that I was blond. Even in media where blondes are portrayed as the protagonist, they usually have a transformation from a ditzy girlie girl to the intelligent, empowered version they “need” to be. They have to rise above their stereotype of being stupid to evolve into a respectable woman.

My brother and I did everything together, played video games, watched TV, and because of our combined interests he knew how much I idolized these brunette goddesses. He also knew how to use them against me.

Every time I messed up, my brother was there to call me stupid, a stupid blonde. I had phases in my life where I was convinced that, in order to be taken seriously, I needed to dye my hair brown. I couldn’t be smart because only brunettes are smart.

However, as I got older I embraced my seemingly unfortunate hair color more and more. I discovered that the golden locks on my head did not determine my intelligence, my interests or my personality. I branched out of my tomboyish ways into more feminine things, and thus discovered powerful, blond women such as the intelligent Elle Woods from Legally Blonde, or, a more tangible representation, the classic Taylor Swift. These women, bearing the same curse as me, are the embodiment of empowered, intelligent, feminine women; I have developed love and pride for my blond hair because of them.

Despite the fact that I’ll always be a little blond girl in the eyes of my brother, my identity is not found in his opinion of my intelligence or anyone else’s.