Society, Hair Colour and Fakeism

Cynthia Cheng

I never understood western society’s obession with blondes.  I just don’t find light hair all that attention-grabbing.  Ads featuring people with Sandra Bullock or Natalie Portman’s colouring seem to be much more striking, in my opinion.  At the same time, I find that ads in Asia, featuring “local-looking” women to be pretty, yet boring.  But it could be that in Asia, “girl-next-door” types are very commonly used.  Many of the women look could very well be so-and-so from accounting/HR/communications/whatever.  I realize that they’re trying to sell something that buyers can relate to – the philosophy of “hey, that girl looks just like me/I can be like that girl too” does work.  It is more “real.”

At the same time, there are those who prefer the make-believe version.  As little girls, many of us pretended to be princesses, but we knew well that we wouldn’t become a REAL princess – a doctor or teacher (because little six year olds never think of being lawyers – unless our parents were lawyers, we didn’t even know what they were at that age) was more realistic in our future.   Of course, one can say the same thing about using blondes – most people, including the women in ads, are not really blonde.  The colour is, of course, achieved via a bottle.  However, many women (or at least, Caucasian women) have dyed their hair, trying to achieve that look even though the appearance often makes them look fake.  In the grown-up world, fantasy is only a good thing if it doesn’t look overtly artificial.  And oftentimes, the blondes in ads look that way.  I realize that airbrushing is necessary at times (to get rid of scars, bad lighting, and so forth), but why is it important to make drastic changes?   Companies do it to celebrity spokespeople as well – sometimes to the point that you barely recognize that person. 

But why do advertising companies continue to use blonde-looking women?  Is it because natural blondes are rare?  What about redheads?  Natural redheads are even less common, yet they are not considered “ideal beauties.”  Why is it that darker haired people are not used as often as blondes (unless one is “ethnic”)?  Brown hair occurs more frequently even in Scandanavian countries, where there are more people who’re naturally blonde.  What about the gross tanned look?  Don’t companies think orange skin looks bad on blondes?  Of course, it could also be that we live in a society which thrives on fakeism, ranging from the foods we eat to what we see around us.  Has our society become so disgusting that it is considered good and proper to only like fakeism?  How can companies really think that a fake look sells?  Why can’t people consider strong, dark features “attractive” in women?

Image © Sean Locke/iStockPhoto