I'll Try Anything Once: Going Blonde

Never say I don't commit to a story.

May 4, 2012 at 1:00pm | Leave a comment

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I've been blond for a week now. It hasn't been easy, sneaking around like this, reusing old pictures and ducking out of Jane's Phone videos.

When I pitched the idea of going undercover blond for a day, I was planning on using a wig. But when Julie hooked me up with Bumble and Bumble's Zoe Wiepert, aka the "blonde-maker" aka "the keeper of Cat Marnell's precious blond head," I decided to fully commit, like a man to his second wife.

Doubt me not, bitches. I will try anything once.

I sometimes joke that I never met a blond bogger before I worked at xoJane. At Lemondrop.com, where I worked with Julieanne Smolinski (whose shade is somewhere between a grizzly and black bear), we were uniformly brunette with bangs, as writers should be. Yet press images from xo's launch show me, Cat and Jane, two glowing blondes to my Joyce DeWitt.

As we discuss the assignment around xoJ headquarters, it became clear that the slight tension between the two groups is real. Blonde, we brunettes tend to think, is so obvious, and in the case of dyed hair, smacks of so much effort with its upkeep and products. Blondes are big summer blockbusters, brunettes are "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." (Then Christina Hendricks walks by and everyone's just like "Ahhh, fuck.")

There are, of course, exceptions -- edgy blondes like Courtney Love in the 90s, pre-red Rihanna  -- but the hair color is synonmyous with cookie cutter beauty in the tradition of Barbie and Hef's interchangeable girlfriends.

And really, does anyone believe that blondes are having that much damn fun? You know who has a lot of fun? Sluts, of all colors. And drunk people. And children, because they're stupid.

Which brings us to the only other word as linked with "blonde" as "fun." DUMB! If I ever I believed I was "too smart for blonde," my confidence was punctured when blond Madeline pointed out that for all the mental posturing some brunettes do about blondes, they don't really bother themselves worrying about us.

But men are always telling us they're not into blondes! Julie, Olivia and I protest.

"Yeah, guys never bother to say stuff like that to blondes," Madeline responds, shocking us all with the possiblity that at least some of those guys are just humoring us. (Et tu, guys who are always telling curvy girls they think supermodels are too thin?)

And to think I never would have found out if it wasn't for my planned foray across enemy lines. What other secrets could I glean if I went undercover? And for that matter, wouldn't it be fun to for once sit atop society's beauty pyramid? And finally, if blonde is good enough for my two biggest idols in life, Christina Aguilera and Dolly Parton, isn't it also good enough for me?

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Yea verily, I said, and set up camp at my local Bumble and Bumble salon, which is legit a little bit like heaven where they bring you all the free tea and coffee you want and have vibrating shampoo chairs. It's a good thing I liked it, because it took 6 hours to take me from Zooey to Kendra.

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By midnight, Zoe and I were pretty punchy and giggling every time she talked about the "mid-shaft" of my hair. Bumble and Bumble fun fact: Did you know that you're not allowed to have the same name as another stylist at the salon, like with strippers? They make you change yours if somebody already has it. I'm probably not supposed to tell you that, but it's so chic!

Anyway, "Zoe" gave me the sickest dye job ever, with these awesome dirty roots that remind me of home, where somebody's always having sex with someone else's pregnant girlfriend or getting beat up by someone's uncle, who is actually only a few years older than his nephew.

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I was surpringly calm throughout the process. It's one of my 2012 resolutions to stop being so precious about my hair and wanting it to be all long and pretty and flattering all the time. I think we should all go back to being weird teenagers and totally screwing up our hair sometimes just for fun. So I went into this shit like it was makeover week on "Top Model," where you know anybody who complains about what Tyra wants is going to get sent home on top of their ugly, weird haircut.

Of course, Zoe actually made my hair look amazing, so I was more like the girl who gets the super-long weave that makes her look like a mermaid. But at least it was totally different, and exciting! in a way that safe hair microadjustments like deciding to add some layers or getting a sideswept bang just isn't. 

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My awesome team: Zoe Wiepert on color and Q on cut, both from Bumble and Bumble Uptown.

But would my life change?

Blonde, after all, is its own subculture, one in which its members, like plastic surgery addicts, seem to lose track of what they look like after awhile in the mania for blond blond blonder.

Blond Madeline conjectured that I was going to get "soooo much sexual attention," which, not to sound like a dick, but I already do. I'm tall, I wear skirts and heels and I'm covered in tattoos. There was no real control to this experiment.

Still, after Jane told an anecdote about walking out of the salon as a blonde and having a man across the street yell out "Will you MARRY ME?", I was sort of hoping to come out of the salon chair with Delilah-like powers over the world's assorted menfolk.

Sadly, I feel like I actually get less attention as a blonde, although some of it's coming from farther away, like passing cars. I'm easier to spot, at least. In the same vein, I occasionally catch a guy staring at me as if caught, moth-like, in the glare of my hair. But overall, fewer cat-calls and come-ons, maybe because blond just doesn't look as good on me as dark hair? 

More wisdom from Madeline on what it's like being blonde: "You can get away with more stuff, like stealing. You can get discounts on things, too. Like a hot dog or a smoothie."

While I don't generally haggle on smoothies, this sounded to me like it would apply to pretty much any pretty woman. What can blond get me that boobs can't?

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Not much, that I can tell. Maybe it's because my life consists mostly of working, parenting, eating and sleeping, primarily at my office or home. There's not a lot of wiggle room for driving men wild with desire or talking my way into free hot dogs. Perhaps I should take my hair to da club or try to get out of a speeding ticket or something? 

Or maybe it's like being a New Yorker, where there's a minimum time requirement before you can officially reap the benefits of blondeness? After a week, the only major difference is that I keep being startled by glimpses of myself in outdoor reflective surfaces, and compulsively snapping phone pictures of myself to try to understand what I look like.

Despite my resolve to stop being such a big ol' whiny baby about the mammalian fur keeping my head warm, as the novelty wears off, I start to feel sort of depressed, even weepy.

Some of my favorite lipstick shades don't look good anymore, and the styling of my new do is pretty high-maintenance. Fake blond hair gets frizzy at the first sign of rain or if not properly blown out.

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My hair on a rainy day.

The flipside is that I finally understand what people talking about when they say their hair looks better on the second day. Before blonde, my hair was always too thin and oily to skip shampoo. I love being dirty and lazy, so this is not a small perk.

Despite this benefit, by the end of the week, I am looking back longingly at pictures of my old hair and wondering why I ever decided to fuck with it. (For the record, I did it for you awful people.)

I love the hair in theory, but I just don't feel like me. Maybe some blondes have more fun, but this blonde has more confusion and free-floating insecurity. Damn, bitches really do be crazy about their hair.

With this attitude, I'm not surprised blonde isnt bringing me love and luck. No one street-proposes to a girl who feels uncomfortable in her own skin.

When I first went blonde, I thought I might keep it for awhile, but after a week I find myself itching to have Zoe take me back to my old color. I decide to wait until publishing this post to make a final decision.

Should I go back to brunette ASAP? Or keep the blonde for awhile? Or split the difference and go back to being a redhead? I don't even know who I am anymore.

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