Why the Big Deal about Blonde? And what about Red?
Blondes heads up! Not only do women find blonde hair attractive, but men do too. And some men have a preference for red-heads. What makes blonde or red hair such a big deal? It seems there is a “scientific” reason, or would that should be a “biological” reason?
I’ll explain, but first let’s consider this: There are almost as many shades of blonde as there are personalities. From warm caramel blonde to the most silvery-white platinum. Most of us who wish to jump in the blonde pool can find a shade that’s right for us. We all know that shades of color are important, but I am continually amazed when I see women with colored/bleached hair or women with blonde wigs that have done themselves a disservice. All blondes (or red shades) are not created equal and all shades won’t work on every woman. Be picky, investigate, learn about skin tones, and undertones, and try a wig boutique if you can, to see the shades for yourself, and in indoor and outdoor lights. (And if you go blonde or red from a brunette shade, especially a darker one, remember to change your makeup!) Yes, it matters.
WHY are blondes considered “above average attractive” to so many people? There is a bit of science behind the answer. Don’t believe that it’s all Hollywood’s fault (think Marilyn Monroe and Jane Mansfield in the fifties). Here is what the “experts” tell us: blonde gives a woman a kind of eternal youth look. But the real reason, even more, “experts” agree on is this: the scarce is always more attractive. And this is where science comes in.
If we go back in time, we would see a lot of people with the same coloring, shades of brown for hair, and eyes. It was the way we evolved from darker to lighter as humans migrated to different parts of the earth, some having access to more or less sun. When more southern groups stumbled onto the groups in the far north, those who had been in those Nordic areas, for example, they found people with lighter hair and eyes because they had adapted to the climate by their DNA changing to let more sunlight into their bodies. The blue eye color was a mutation, and those mutations have continued to this day. It is common to find light eyes in the majority of natural blondes and many others of northern European ancestry (myself included).
Now, the really interesting part: Blonde hair originated through a kind of genetic necessity. There was a time when there was a shortage of food and males, leading to a high ratio of women competing for a smaller number of partners (Evolution and Human Behavior – 2/27/2006). Academic researchers have discovered that women in northern Europe evolved with light hair and blue eyes at the end of the Ice Age to stand out from the larger group so that they could attract the mate they desired. It was later when the Neanderthals came on the scene that the red hair gene started to spread among the populations. Scientists argued for decades about whether they intermixed with the more modern human. They did. More current ways to verify that have closed the argument. So, in reality, that red gene is just as rare or more so. We see it today in Scotland, Ireland, and Scandinavia in higher numbers, but the red-head gene originated in central Asia. It’s due to a mutation in the MC1R gene that fails to produce sun-protective, skin-darkening eumelanin and instead causes pale skin, freckles, and red hair. Unfortunately, some cultures equated red hair with witchcraft for a few generations, and this
gene didn’t spread as fast as it might have. Blonde women have their myths too and they are found all over the Nordic areas. Two of the Norse goddesses, Sif and Freyja were blondes.
Blue-eyed people (who are becoming even more scarce now) for example, can trace their ancestors back to ONE person who lived about 10,000 (give or take) years ago, near the Black Sea. The research was published in the Journal of Human Genetics. They identified a single mutation in a gene called OCA2, which arose by chance about 8,000 years ago (best guess currently). This gene turns off the mechanism that produces brown melanin pigment. Originally, as I noted earlier, all humans had brown eyes.
In the end, the most likely theory that most can agree on is that blonde hair and blue (or green) eyes arose because of sex selection. This is where males and females choose their mates and those with “special” characteristics. So, we are back to the value of what is scarce.
Why skin tones are important in picking hair color: Those humans from Europe and the Near East have many characteristics that set them apart from the rest of the human race. Not only are Europeans far more likely to have blue eyes (some green) (95 percent in some Scandinavian countries have shades of blue or blue-green) they also have a far greater range of skin tones and hair colors than any other ethnic grouping. So good news! Those of us from European ancestry (a lot of us) are in the position of having at least a few blonde shades that work for us because we all have that varying skin tone advantage. I am British-Welch-Irish-Swedish/Dane-Scottish-Norwegian-German – in that order of percentage, the DNA tells me. My ancestors were hanging around in northern Europe for a long time. Most of my family has blue or green eyes—still. Only when they marry someone with brown eyes (dominant gene) does the brown win out for their children. I am not a natural blonde, but a very light brunette. But now, since I know that skin tone is the big thing, I know that I can find a blonde shade that is right for me.
So, if you find yourself drawn to the blonde shades, you’re in good company. Listen, you brunettes, if everyone goes blonde or red, pretty soon YOU will be the scarce ones!
Until next time,