Today's The Daily Mail has a charming article about a new study claiming to have proof backing up the old stereotype that blondes have more fun. The research, led by "UK's leading facial mapping expert Dr. Chris Solomon" (talk about a niche field), polled participants on their opinions of various individuals' photos. The participants were asked to rank the people in the photos based on categories such as "business acumen" and leadership qualities, and it turns out they found brunettes more credible in a business environment than blondes.
First of all, this study was done in celebration of a TV show premiere, so take it with a giant grain of salt. But the headline definitely grabs you, and it raises a bigger issue: Are we letting this old stereotype seep too deeply into our collective psyche? We wouldn't be surprised if many women color their hair darker or lighter in order to channel a certain image — blonde if they want to seem more fun, youthful, or wild; brunette if they're trying to project a more serious persona. Now, as an office of many hair colors (natural and otherwise), we know these stereotypes are far from true. And just like judging based on race, weight, creed, or any other superficial quality, any employer who values workers based on hair color is way in the wrong.
And yet, if there is one valuable thing this study shows, it's that discarding this stereotype — constantly reinforced by Hollywood and its counterparts — is easier said than done. Maybe, at this point, we've been so deeply ingrained that we actually believe this is a real indicator of priorities or ability. If that's true, then frankly, we're more than a little upset to see such publicity for research that does no more than perpetuate a vicious circle of stereotypes while underscoring the belief that you can tell something about a woman's internal character based on her external appearance. It should be noted that this applies to men, too. The study participants also admired men with strong jaws, despite the fact that (as The Daily Mail itself points out) many male leaders currently in power in the UK aren't exactly James Bond lookalikes.
As much as we'd like to think common perceptions of blondes and brunettes are a bunch of baloney, it seems like these ideas still hold some credibility, at least on some subconscious level. (The Daily Mail)
What do you think? Have you ever experienced — or even been guilty of — discrimination based on hair color in the past?
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Photographed by Dan McCahon