Reprinted from The Toronto Star, with permission.
Here it is, the fifty-something anniversary of the birth of Barbie, and I’m uncomfortable. Coincidentally, it is also the fifty-something anniversary of me, and I’ve got to ask: is Barbie having more fun than I am? Am I missing something by not being blond?
Okay, okay, so this smacks of insecurity. But who wouldn’t be insecure, being brunette these days? Did the Prince go looking for a dark-haired Sleeping Beauty? Did Charming find a gorgeous black-haired scullery maid at the end of the glass slipper? Face it, scullery types: if you’re brunette, you’re going to have to find your own prince.
I blame it on Barbie. Three quatrillion blond Barbies with bunny bodies since March, 1959, and no brunette bimbo in sight. It’s enough to make you go for botox.
So what is it about us dark-haired babes? Why are we constantly being portrayed as witches? No just in Salem – even today. In Westerns, you can tell the bad guys from the good guys by their black hats. In Disney, you can tell the bad girls by their black hair.
Witchy women, evil women – all of them brunette, you can bet your peroxide. It’s a fact; a witchy brunette nearly butchered 101 darling Dalmations for their spotted fur. And in the Wizard of OZ, Glinda the good witch was blondie-blond. The nasty old Witch of the West was as brunette as they come.
That’s us – nasty. And no wonder, the way we are always portrayed.
What can you expect, when the best role model we-of-dark-tresses had as young kids was Natasha Fatale (“Whatever you think, Darlink”) of Boris and Natasha fame on Bullwinkle. Good Ole Bullwinkle. I used to imagine he had a raging animal crush on the sexy, dark-haired Natasha. – and who wouldn’t? Sexy and savvy. She was my role model. It’s taken me years to kick the “Darlink” habit and start pronouncing Gs.
Things got better when Morticia came along. Now, she was a classy role model. Granted, my parents got a bit upset when I dyed my confirmation dress black and started writing poetry about graveyards. But more than one male (prince or frog) has mentioned to me that Caroline Jones was the object of many adolescent daydreams.
Well, at least they call us sexy. In fact, “sultry” was the word Commander Riker used in a Next Generation episode on the holodeck. “Give me sultry,” he said, and when a blonde vision popped up in the New Orleans jazz bar, “No, she’s got to be brunette.”
Thank you, Commander Riker!
So far we can chalk up nasty, sexy, sultry and bad. Clever but cruel. Usually foreign and sneaky. Throw in green eyes, and you’ve got the classic Evil Woman.
Evil, evil, evil.
So be a little careful before you start to criticize this column. I might put a hex on you.