Nobody's Fool: Power and agency in performing 'The Blonde'
Hair is modified, dressed or fashioned to convey a multitude of meanings and, as such, can be considered a form of masking. Interrogating the phenomenon of the ‘blonde myth’, this article examines the meaning of blondeness through the performances of popular culture icons such as Marilyn Monroe, Madonna and Lady Gaga. An exposition of the history of the contradictory stereotypes that are contained within the construction of the blonde as sexual and stupid, leads to the question: Why would a woman choose to become blonde if to do so risks negative stereotyping? I contend that women knowingly enact ‘blondeness’ to exploit its construction as a feminine ideal. They believe that contemporary appropriations of the blonde do not occupy the space of an exploited feminine victim. Instead, appropriating the blonde constitutes a deliberate move to occupy a powerful visible space. Finally, I argue that they achieve this position by employing strategies of the carnivalesque: humour, parody and irony which cast a reflexive light on the constructed nature of the stereotype, while at the same time reinforcing it.
Critical Studies in Fashion and Beauty
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