We couldn’t really fail to comment on this bit of research. Apparently, after men have been shown photographs of blonde women, they perform poorly on general knowledge tests. Apparently this is due to deeply-held cultural stereotypes of blondes as intellectually challenged, which subjects unconsciously mimic.
Thierry Meyer, joint author of the study and professor of social psychology at the University of Paris X-Nanterre said: “This proves that people confronted with stereotypes generally behave in line with them. In this case blondes have the potential to make people act in a dumber way, because they mimic the unconscious stereotype of the dumb blonde.”
I haven’t found anything on how the researchers came to this conclusion and I always feel unsatisfied when I read fluff pieces like this, with little in the way of comprehensive explanation. However, it’s a widely-known fact that people tend to mimic those around them, unconsciously mirroring somebody’s body language or picking up their accent for example, in order to facilitate bonding. It’s definitely a possible explanation, and if it’s the correct one, it proves that the stereotype of the dumb blonde has permeated the unconscious to a worrying extent. However, I have to say that my initial thought on reading this was, “Surely if a man is thick enough to think that blondes have spam for brains, he’s a bit of a spamhead himself?”
I suppose because few women have the colouring to carry off both blonde and brunette hair, few women are able to assess just how differently they might be treated were their hair colour different. My own hair is almost black and, apart from a few light brown highlights, has been my entire life. I’ve no idea if people would treat me differently if I were blonde. I did however have the extremely unsavoury experience of discovering that when my tits expanded from an A-cup to an E-cup virtually overnight when I was fourteen, people seemed to think that my IQ had miraculously diminished overnight too. Women’s appearance can dictate how their intellectual prowess is perceived, and not just in terms of how they present themselves by what clothes and make up they wear, but in terms of largely unchangeable genetic things such as their colouring and figure. This royally sucks.
To me however, the most worrying thing is not the fact that the dumb blonde stereotype exists in the first place, but the fact that in spite, or perhaps because of it, blondes are traditionally considered the most attractive. Yep, the patriarchy just loves stupid women. Or projects an image of stupidity onto attractive women. Or both. Either way, the idea of being both sexually attractive and intelligent is pretty radical.
In terms of how this has been reported, I’m rather pissed off with The Times for feeling the need to print the following at the end of their article:
Some blondes are of course highly intelligent. Susan Greenfield is an Oxford professor of pharmacology and director of the Royal Institution. The actress Joanna Lumley is a noted environmentalist and a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.
Some blondes are intelligent! Shocker! And their wording implies that most aren’t. Shame on them. Well, if you think you can handle the shock, I would like to add to this list the gorgeous Holly Combe and the radiant Abby O’Reilly, our very own flaxen-haired F-Word goddesses. Just try telling them they’re stupid.