On a recent day when I was cleaning up our Toy Room (code for The just-throw-the-crap-in-there room) I came upon the collection of my daughter’s Barbie dolls strewn across the floor.
While still on my hands and knees, I organized them into a pile. Then I spread them out across the floor and sat down to have a look. Just then, my husband walked in.
“What do you notice about this picture?” I asked him as I pointed to the mess in front of me.
He looked down at me there on the floor with our daughter’s dolls.
“Um, they are all naked?” Yeah, they were but that wasn’t the answer I was looking for.
“No,” I said. “Look at them. Every single one of them is blonde.”
“Oh,” he said, shrugged and walked away, leaving me there on the floor, me a petite brunette with now shorter hair, amongst a sea of long-legged, long-haired skinny blonde beauties.
I had never realized that almost every doll she owned had blonde hair. Barbie Ballerina, Barbie Rockstar, Barbie from a Mermaid Tale, Barbie Sleeping Beauty, and lots of other no name blonde Barbies. Oh wait, Barbie Ariel has red hair and a Belle doll over there is chestnut. Hmmm.
Did my daughter like the different look of a blonde Barbie? Will she be happy with her own brown hair-brown eyed look when she grows up or will she want to experiment with hair color and highlights? Contact lenses? Tattoos? Nose piercings? (Sorry, getting off track here.)
Growing up, I was not happy with my genes. I wanted lighter hair. I am not sure blondes were having more fun than me, they probably were. But they certainly had pretty hair. And I wanted in.
Back then, my only choices to lighten my locks were Sun In or a box of highlights. I tried Sun In. I sprayed so darn much on there that I ended up looking like I had a shiny copper penny on top of my Dorothy Hamill do.
I threw it out. Cried for days about it. That summer I got sad looks and nods from people who just knew — as a brunette you should NOT ever do the Sun In thing. In the fall of 7th grade when my hair was back to normal, I tried a box of paint on highlights. I put the plastic cap on, yanked little strands of hair through the holes with a crochet needle-looking thingy and applied the peroxide highlights to my dark brown hair.
The result –brown hair that looked like I used a box of home highlights. It was awful. Really. Not as bad as the Sun In, but pretty bad nonetheless.
I gave up on being blonde until I was in my 30s and went to the hairdresser for a haircut. She told me I could “brighten myself up a bit” with strategically placed highlights and low lights if I wanted to go a few shades lighter. Really?
So I did, and I liked the outcome. It wasn’t blonde, but I did have lighter brown, gold and red tones in my hair. I felt like a new me. A lighter brown me. It was nice for a while, but then I decided, or I should say the price dictated, that I would go back to basic and somewhat boring brown.
I can change the color of my hair if I wanted. I have a friend who is nearly platinum blonde – but a natural dark brunette. Celebs are constantly changing from blonde, to brown to blonde, to whatever. Julia Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, Madonna, Drew Barrymore, Beyonce. The list goes on. It looks good on them, mostly, except for Beyonce. I am not sure it would on me and frankly, I am done trying.
Basic brown, just enough to cover up the grays that have sprouted over the last couple of years since parenting began.
So, back to the Barbies.
As I sat there on the floor with the dolls, I had an idea — a little experiment to find out, at least with my kids, whether the color of your hair matters to them. Would they choose someone because of the color of their hair?
I took my daughter’s one brunette Barbie – a Belle princess look-alike — and the blonde Barbie Rockstar, dressed them both in similar princess gowns and placed them on the floor before my children.
“Which one do you like better? I asked.
Since she had a slew of blonde Barbies in her collection and she loves Taylor Swift, I figured at least my daughter would pick the Blonde one. I wasn’t sure where my son’s preferences would fall. He has some cute little blonde girls in his class as well as some adorable little brunettes. There is even a red-head somewhere in the mix.
They both pointed to Belle.
I asked them why.
My daughter said she liked the Belle doll better because Barbie Rockstar was missing a hand.
My son said he liked the Belle doll better because she looks like his Aunt Jane.
Well. There you have it.
According to my kids, brunettes trump blondes with missing hands and apparently blood is thicker than a bottle of peroxide any day.