Ruminations and fulminations about -isms, animals, and writing.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
In Support of Brown
Picture this: A shero’s flaxen hair streams in some generic breeze while her muscular love interest flexes his shirtless pecs and tries not to care that his curly black hair is gorgeous in a sex-tousled kinda way.
You know what bugs me the most about this imaginary scene? No, it’s not the trite imagery, nor is it the traditional gender enactments. Well, okay, maybe that. But most of all, I’m annoyed that the shero — that far too many of our sheroes – is blonde.
I know flowing blonde hair is a romantic staple (although less for us paranormal romancefiends), but, really, must we? Have you ever seen coffee-brown hair stream in a generic breeze? Pretty darn sexy. Or a magnificent afro bounce in the sunlight? Glorious. So why do we authors, like so many media professionals, persist in over-representing a very small percent of our population?
Depending on whicharticleyou read, natural blonde Americans (sorry for the snub, Canadians and others) account for anywhere between two and sixteen percent of the population. According to Wikipedia (and yes, I love me some Wikipedia!), redheads are one to two percent of our population. Everyone else has brown or black hair. In spite of what you see in mainstream media, that’s eighty or so percent of us, folks.
I get it, I do: blonde hair represents fun, innocence, it’s rarer and therefore supposedly more valuable, it’s shorthand for the cultural and political capital associated with Whiteness, etc., etc. But until we start reflecting the glory of brown and black hair, women of all races and ages are going to keep shuffling their booties into the pharmacy anddisproportionately grabbing bottles of “haystack honey” hair dye from the shelves.
I’m writing in support of brown. I love dark hair. I love the way it glistens in the light, the way its frizzes and dreads and ponytails bounce against strong shoulders. I love that brown and black come in as many shades as there are people. And most of all, I love that we as authors have the opportunity to unearth beauty in the most common of places.
Yes, brown and black are the most common hair colors in the U.S. (and worldwide!). That’s awesome. Given that, I suggest we take a step or two back from our impulse to crown our sheroes with platinum, golden, honeyed, wheat-colored, or fair tresses. Now is as good a time as any to start celebrating the beautiful rainbow of brunette diversity.