In art and literature, in history and popular culture, blonde has never been a mere colour. For 2,500 years, it has been a blazing signal and around this obsession entire industries have developed, influential trends set. From Greek prostitutes mimicking the golden-haired Aphrodite, to the Californian beach babe; from pigeon-dung and saffron dyes ...
In art and literature, in history and popular culture, blonde has never been a mere colour. For 2,500 years, it has been a blazing signal and around this obsession entire industries have developed, influential trends set. From Greek prostitutes mimicking the golden-haired Aphrodite, to the Californian beach babe; from pigeon-dung and saffron dyes to L'Oreal - because you're worth it - we see the lengths to which women will go to become blonde. The power and duality of the blonde as either erotic symbol or saintly virgin waxes and wanes but never disappears. Weaving a story rich in anecdote, history and high intrigue, Joanna Pitman effortlessly combines the wealth of her knowledge with a sharp and clear-sighted view of the power of the blonde throughout the ages.
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Publishers Weekly, 2003-02-03 Pitman, a writer for the London Times, offers a history of the world as seen through abundant locks of magnificent blonde hair, from the ancient sexual power of Aphrodite to the California sun-streaked hair of Farrah Fawcett. In this world history, Eve and Mary Magdalene become the blonde "bad girls" who represent forbidden sexuality, eternal beauty and sin, while Queen Elizabeth and Princess Diana gain attention because they continued to lighten their hair as they aged, attempting to harness the power of blondeness. The examples may sound a bit frivolous, but Pitman takes great care to treat the topic with a serious edge, particularly in the second half of the book. The obsession with blonde hair may have created seemingly innocuous Hollywood icons like Marilyn Monroe and Jean Harlow, but it also was essential to the notion of Aryan supremacy, and the author addresses how Nazi Germany attempted to lighten the hair of its population by ordering soldiers to procreate with blonde female citizens. Later on, Pitman looks at 1970s ad campaigns for hair dye and their internal conflicts about whether a woman ought to dye her hair to appeal to men or to feel good about herself (as L'Oreal so famously puts it, "Because I'm worth it"). In this way, the book tackles issues of race, gender and class, ultimately asking, "[W]hy is America, a culture so publicly concerned with overcoming its problems with race, still so fixated on the blonde?" Pitman admits there are no clear answers, but she offers a bright, energetic and witty exploration of the topic. (Mar.) Forecast: Does she or doesn't she? Pitman's history of this irresistible question should get her off-the-book-page interviews, and her accessible cultural criticism could reach a broad audience. Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
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