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© 2011 Lenae Day

A Guide to Becoming a Blonde

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Blush Pearl - When I was 11, I dressed up as Lucille Ball for a school project. For the first time, my mother allowed me to dye my hair. I used a semi-permanent orange color matching my grandfather’s natural hair color—the color my mother always dreamed that mine would be. 

I put on my grandmother’s polka-dot dress, my mother’s heels, and a pair of fake eyelashes. And became someone new. Vivacious. Funny.

I tramped into an elementary school library brimming with tiny historical figures like Napoleon, Joan of Arc, and Ben Franklin. I set up my presentation board near the back and spent the evening hitting on a very spirit-gummed Brigham Young, a flagrantly flamboyant Juan Ponce De Leon, and a tiny, mouse-like Coco Chanel. When the show was over and the beards had all disappeared, I was still in character. I was hooked.

I dyed my hair red for the next three years until I got my hair cut into a short bob and my mother called me a “tomato head”. Combine that with my always embarrassed complexion, red was all I could see.


Champagne Ice - This year there are nearly five million blunders who weren’t always blondes. 5, 000, 000!


Sterling Pearl - When I was seven or eight, I would play in my mother’s bathroom. One day, I noticed her pink disposable razor perched on the counter. I looked down to see if I had any visible hair on my legs, but there was none. Next I checked my armpits, but no luck there either. I looked at my arms, but the hairs were too fine to make out. I was about to give up when I looked up and saw my face in the mirror. Perfect. I started scratching away at the right eyebrow. When I looked up and saw that the eyebrow was completely removed, the only thing I could see was that they were no longer symmetrical, so I immediately started scratching off the left one. By the time I was done all that was left were two bumpy, slightly bleeding bumps.

Ashamed, I nudged the door open to see if anyone was in my parents’ bedroom. No one. I sprinted back to my room where I grabbed a rainbow pastel baseball cap that covered my eyes and went outside to play. I came back inside to use the bathroom and left the hat on the counter. My mother grabbed me and screamed “What have to you done to your face!” Then she dragged me upstairs to the bathroom, tears welling in her eyes as she drew my eyebrows on with a pencil. Then she started to giggle.

“What’s so funny?”

“Did you really think you could wear that cap long enough for your eyebrows to grow back?”


X-Lite Platinum - I lie. When someone asks if I dye my hair blonde, I say no. But I am lying. Dyeing.

For years I told people that I ad been in the Nutcracker. In front of thousands. It was a small lie. I did not claim to be a protagonist, just a small soldier within a sea of small soldiers. No one would know any different. Except me.


Champagne Sherbet - With very little trouble, you can go back to your original color if you choose. But if you’re like most girls, you probably won’t. Not after you’ve spent one even as a blonde with him.


Champagne Toast - My husband prefers me as a blonde. With an “e”.


Taupe Pearl - As soon as I got off the bus she ambushed me. With a fist full of bobby pins, she dragged me over to the stairs and sat down behind me. Pummeling my head with a cheap plastic Goody-brand hairbrush. The pressure was on.

That afternoon, I had a ballet class at one of those pompous professional schools at a time when the girls were too young to be bitches and their mothers made up for it in spades. My mother couldn’t afford the trips to Cancun or the private girl’s school the other mothers boasted about. But she could make sure that my bun was tight and lacquered.

“Hold still!” she said through a mouth full of pins. She held me down with one hand and brushed the rat’s nest out of my hair with the other.

I squirmed and screamed and finally stood up, shouting “OW, that HURTS!” and turned to face her with my hands on my hips. “NO MORE!”

An hour later in the dressing room, she finished the job, my hair a clumsy mess. She would shove pins so deeply through the lumpy beast that was my hair that I would still feel the dull pain long after the pins were removed.


Ivory Chiffon - at age six, I snuck into the backyard with a pair of safety scissors. I wanted to impress the neighbor boy playing on the other side of the fence, so I took the dull blades and started gnawing off the front lock of my hair. My mother loaded me and my two younger brothers into our blue minivan and took me to the beauty salon where they did their best to hide my botched job with horribly oversized bangs.


Champagne Beige - She sets aside the little time it takes for beauty . . . knowing how her family adores her vital good looks, the glowing young color of her hair.


X-Lite Silver Blonde - I used to dye my hair so often that the front piece would turn a light gray-blue. When this happened, I sat in the shower until the water turned freezing, scrubbing away with soap and shampoo. If this failed to work, I would use dish soap, then powdered detergent. At the end of this routine, my hair was white and wiry, but at least it was no longer blue.

Then I would do it again six weeks later.


Champagne Parfait - Why should you deny yourself the joy and confidence of knowing you’re a younger-looking, happier-looking, completely attractive woman?


X-Lite A - At pre-teen slumber parties, we always seemed to recite our greatest fears. There were the standards: snakes, heights, spiders. When it came to my turn, I almost always said the same thing, “I am afraid of going . . . BALD!” I only said this to get a laugh.

When I see a bald or slightly bald woman at the supermarket or buying booklets of stamps I inevitably thinking “Honestly, how hard is it to find a wig?” Lately I have realized that time has started to erode my nastiness and love of all things fake.


White Beige - Clean. White. Hair.


Honey Chiffon - When she was four, my mother cut her doll’s hair in the closet. The doll’s hair was the same dishwater blonde as her own. Her parents thought she had been cutting her own hair and she was punished for it. They should have known that she would never have done anything so rash.


Moonbeam - Every time I come home to visit, my mother is dyeing my brother’s hair. Blue. He is the only genuine towhead in the family.


Pastel Pearl - When I was younger, I found a school photo of my mother when she was a child. She smiles, wild-eyed, out at me. She is wearing a pea-green smock and is missing a tooth. On top of her head is a severely bound, perfectly symmetrical bun placed right on top of her head. Immaculate.

She recently told me how painful it was when her mother did her hair. But she never fought.

MODERN CANDOR