Blonde stereotype

Blonde stereotype

The blonde stereotype, the stereotypical perception of blond-haired women, has two aspects. On one hand, over the history, blonde hair in women has been considered attractive and desirable. On the other hand, a blonde woman is often perceived as making little use of intelligence, as a "woman who relied on her looks rather than on intelligence."[1]

It can be used as a popular culture derogatory stereotype[2] to use hair colour as an indication of intelligence. This stereotype is utilized in blonde jokes.

Blonde hair is also a physical trait often associated with "bimbos," attractive women perceived as unintelligent or uneducated.



Blonde hair has been considered attractive for long periods of time in various European cultures, particularly when coupled with blue eyes. This perception is exploited in culture and advertising.[3]

At the same time, people tend to presume that blondes are less serious-minded and less intelligent than brunettes, as reflected in "blonde jokes."[3] The roots of this notion may be traced to Europe, with the "dumb blonde" in question being a French courtesan named Rosalie Duthe, satirised in a 1775 play Les curiosites de la Foire for her habit of pausing a long time before speaking, appearing not only stupid but literally dumb (in the sense of mute).[3]

The notion of "dumb blonde" has been a topic of academic research reported in scholarly articles and university symposia, which tend to confirm that many people hold to the perception that light-haired women are less intelligent than women with dark hair.[3]

Dumb blonde

The dumb blonde stereotype (and the associated cognitive bias) may have some negative consequences and it can also damage a blonde person's career prospects.[4]



Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (a comic novel, a Broadway musical, and two films) explores the appeal of blonde women. The film starred Marilyn Monroe as the blonde and Jane Russell as her wise brunette friend.[3] The Encyclopedia of Hair describes Monroe's role as that of "a fragile woman who relied on her looks rather than on intelligence—what some people refer to as 'dumb blond'."[1] At the same time, in the film she demonstrates a certain amount of wit regarding her life position expressed in her hit[5] "Diamonds are a girl's best friend". And when her fiancé's father (who initially disliked her but eventually was won over) asked her why she pretends to be dumb, she answers that men prefer this way.

Many blond actresses have played stereotypical "dumb blondes", including Judy Holliday,[3] Jayne Mansfield[3] and Goldie Hawn, best known as the giggling "dumb blonde", stumbling over her lines, especially when she introduced Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In "News of the Future".[3]

In the American sitcom Three's Company the blond girl (originally Chrissy played by Suzanne Somers, and later Cindy and Terri) is sweet and naïve, while the brunette (Janet played by Joyce DeWitt) is smart.[3]

In the TV Series Glee, actress Heather Morris plays Brittany Pierce, a cheerleader who is also a member of the glee club New Directions. Brittany is a stereotypical dumb blonde; sexy and beautiful, but with less intelligence.[citation needed]


At the same time, there are many examples where the stereotype is exploited only to combat it.[3]

The film Legally Blonde starring Reese Witherspoon featured the stereotype as a centerpiece of its plot. However the protagonist turns out to be very intelligent and was underachieving due to what she had been taught was expected of her.

Country music legend Dolly Parton, aware of this occasional characterization of her, addressed it in her 1967 hit "Dumb Blonde". Parton's lyrics challenged the stereotype, stating "...just because I'm blonde, don't think I'm dumb 'cause this dumb blonde ain't nobody's fool...". Parton has said she was not offended by "all the dumb-blonde jokes because I know I'm not dumb. I'm also not blonde."[6]

The author of the comic strip Blondie, Chic Young, starting with "Dumb Dora", gradually transformed his subsequent Blondie into a smart, hard-working, family-oriented woman.[7][8]

In The Simpsons Season 21 episode 20, To Surveil with Love, Lisa faces prejudice from her brunette peers during a debate club meeting because of her blonde hair. In order to teach everyone a lesson and make them realise there are exceptions to the blonde stereotype, she intentionally dyed her hair dark brown.[9]

Blonde jokes

There is a category of jokes called "blonde jokes" that employs the dumb blonde stereotype. It overlaps at times with the "sorority girl" series of jokes and the "Jewish American Princess" series of jokes that generally portray the subject of the joke as promiscuous and/or stupid.[10][11]

Blonde jokes have been criticized as sexist by several authors, as most blondes in these jokes are female, although male variations also exist.[12] Research indicates that because of this, men find blonde jokes significantly more amusing than women say they do.[10]

Many blonde jokes are variations on other stereotypical jokes.[citation needed] Blonde jokes nearly always take the format of the blond(e) placing himself or herself in an unusual situation, performing a silly act because he or she misconstrued the meaning of how an activity is supposed to play out, or making a comment that serves to highlight his or her supposed lack of intelligence, lack of common sense, or cluelessness, or promiscuity.

Related stereotypes

See also


  1. ^ a b Encyclopedia of Hair, p. 255
  2. ^ Regenberg, Nina (2007), "Are Blonds Really Dumb?", in mind (magazine) (3), [dead link]
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Encyclopedia of Hair',' pp. 149-151
  4. ^ Many argue this is in fact racist as it characterizes one by physical attributes. The Observer (29 July 2001), "The new blonde bombshell", The Guardian (London), 
  5. ^ "Decade by Decade 1940s: Ten Years of Popular Hits ", ISBN 0739051768 , p. 32
  6. ^ Karen Thomas. She's having a blonde moment. October 27, 2003. USA Today.
  7. ^ "The Comics", by Coulton Waugh, M. Thomas Inge, 1991, ISBN 0878054995
  8. ^ Blondie: the Bumstead Family History, by Dean Young and Melena Ryzik (2007) ISBN 140160322X
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ a b Greenwood, D; LM Isbell (2002). "Ambivalent Sexism and the Dumb Blonde: Men's and Women's Reactions to Sexist Jokes". Psychology of Women Quarterly (Blackwell Publishers) 26 (4): 341–350. doi:10.1111/1471-6402.t01-2-00073. 
  11. ^ Thomas, Jeannie B. (1997). "Dumb Blondes, Dan Quayle, and Hillary Clinton: Gender, Sexuality, and Stupidity in Jokes". The Journal of American Folklore 110 (437): 277–313. doi:10.2307/541162. 
  12. ^ Blundy, Anna (2007-08-25). "'Blonde' jokes aren't funny - No other minority would stand for this cruel stereotyping". Spectator, the (Romford): 18–19. ISSN 00386952. 

Blonde Jokes


  • Encyclopedia of Hair: a Cultural History, by Victoria Sherrow, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006, ISBN 0313331456

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