Thursday, July 26, 2001

Blonded By Science

Are we having more fun yet?

Posted By on Thu, Jul 26, 2001 at 4:00 AM

PHOTOS BY HANNAH WALTON
Is it done yet? Colorist Leanne Collins checks to see.
You know those books about how great it is to have a sister? The real schmaltzy ones with all the pictures of smiling women hugging? I'm never going to write one.

I have two sisters and I love both of them very much. Unfortunately, one of them, the one I shared a room with for eight years, happens to be the only blond in an extended family of Italian, Polish, English, Native-American, and who-knows-what-else ancestry.

Her Blondness has always been highly annoying to me. Imagine, if you will, a family reunion and my sister, the shining towheaded child in a sea of bobbing brown heads. The aunts and uncles are fawning over Her Blondness, telling her how pretty she is and that her hair is so beautiful with "those big blue eyes." Then they turn to me.

"So, Mary ... how are you doing in school?"

I've lived 20-plus years of golden-colored bitterness.

Then, two weeks ago, I found myself at a salon called Epic awaiting my transformation into blondness courtesy of MGM, which sprung for dye jobs as a promotion for Reese Witherspoon's latest vehicle, Legally Blonde, in conjunction with National Blond Day. When I called the MGM studios, a spokeswoman haltingly told me that MGM had "made the holiday up."

"But it has really taken on a life of its own," she insisted. And why not? I'm not the only American woman with a blond complex. Conventionally, brunettes are the boring ones, while blonds are the stunning bombshells. It's completely not fair.

My colorist Leanne had short, spiky, almost platinum hair and told me that if you were going to go blond, you should go all the way. I agreed. I put on the black smock, eager to join the ranks of Marilyn, Jayne, and Sarah Jessica.

After three hours, two trips under the dryers, and at least one recitation of my mantra (Beauty is pain), I was done. Blond.

(There was one dicey moment when Leanne ran her finger over my bleach-covered brows and they seemed to completely disappear, as if shaved off. I screamed. But after that, it was fine.)

Since then, people keep asking me if being a blond is different, what's it really like, and am I having more fun?

Mainly, it's a lot of maintenance. And I'm not just talking about roots and deep conditioning. Blonds have it tough. Or, rather, fake blonds have it tough.

Things I didn't expect to be different were: I had a really hard time putting on makeup. Nothing looked right. And what's worse, I had a really hard time putting on my clothes. Suddenly, my going-out clothes looked really slutty. I've never dressed like a school marm, that's true, but somehow being Blond had upped my skank quotient by a good 15 percent.

No one warned me about that. Along the same lines, things I did expect to be different were. Pick-up lines that had once sounded like this, "Yeah, I thought you were sort of cute," now sound like this, "How come every time I scan the room, my eyes always stop on you?" I think we can all agree which one sounds better.

But the most disconcerting part is that I don't feel like myself. I pass by mirrors and am still shocked. It doesn't look bad; I just don't know who that person is. Same thing when I go out in public. I just don't know how to be Blond.

I told Her Blondness and she explained it thus: "You didn't mentally prepare for the Blond ... It's an attitude."

She was right. I didn't think I'd have to work at it.

"You need to go out and have your hair styled," Her Blondness said, "then go to the Clinique counter and get a makeover. Then go out on the town."

This was much better than my plan, which was to get lipo, a boob job, and a manicure and pedicure every week.

Before I schedule an appointment with a plastic surgeon, I think I'll take my sister's advice. Then I'll decide whether I want to stay Blond or not. Honestly, part of me feels like this could be a life change, something that I will be doing until I'm 70. Because I kind of like it. The other part of me thinks I'll be a brunette again tomorrow.

But having been blond, now I can go back to being the dark-haired sister and be fine with it, even when the aunts and uncles fawn over Her Blondness and then ask me how work is going.

Besides, I got the good skin. And as we get older, I have a feeling that's going to be more and more important.

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