The blonde/brunette dichotomy excludes the BIPOC community

Hair as an identity is always subject to change

Image by: Amna Rafiq
The BIPOC community is excluded in stereotypes surrounding beauty.

Hair: its colour, length, and style has strings attached when understanding our everyday beauty practices and ideas of attraction.

Blonde and brunette stereotypes are pervasive and hold surface-level ideas of how we can understand and identify an individual. The way it’s styled or coloured apparently communicates a person’s intellect, personality, and even political opinions.

Since hair is something biological, yet also commonly dyed, burned into beach waves, and sprayed with flammable glitter, there’s a dual concept of what is and what is natural versus synthetic.

There’s this idea blondes are fake, for example. They have fake hair, fake bodies, and faces full of makeup while brunettes are viewed as mysterious and smart, yet also aggressive.

One of the first things people ask when they talk about a romantic partner is whether you are into blondes or brunettes? Preferring the physical look of a blonde or brunette is fair, but determining their personality and dating potential on such a temporary facet of your body is a daily phenomenon that surprises me to this day. 

Queen’s specifically seems to believe the stereotype that all the girls are thin, blonde, and pretty. They attract the most men and have a certain allure—that allure being their hair—which seems to be a common cause for envy among the brunette population.

However, the best question to ask is whether these stereotypes, rumors, and hair constructs are actually true and if they really even matter, especially in a school filled with students of colour who have predominately black or brown hair.

There’s a large variation of hair colours and types outside the age-old pair of blondes and brunettes, especially when looking at the BIPOC community.

It’s difficult to keep people of colour within this narrative. They’re continually excluded from the conversation because while they could classify as a brunette, they typically remain on the margins of this Eurocentric ideal.

There’s something exclusionary about the blonde and brunette stereotypes for BIPOC individuals. I believe the stereotype can be lighthearted and wasn’t created to exclude people of colour, but I question where we can exist in this narrative when there isn’t a true category to classify us.

There’s a hesitation, an almost moment of reconciling with these Eurocentric practices, as BIPOC women always seem to fall short of never being blonde enough or having hair that’s a shade too dark.  

It’s very common to dye your hair to a different colour. In an interview with The Journal, Jillian O’Connor, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, said there are two levels to understanding the significance of hair: the biological perspective of it being healthy and the social connotations attached to its colour or style.

Though hair is a strong point of attraction for potential partners, it also has effects in terms of job hiring and gaining respect in the professional space—specifically for members of the BIPOC community.

O’Connor said research has found when women of colour straighten their curly hair to make it appear more Eurocentric, they had a higher response rate on job applications compared to women who appeared with their natural hair.

Furthermore, she said this concept is also found in racially ambiguous faces. If we see a darker skinned person with curly hair, they’re perceived to be black, whereas if they have straight hair, they’re identified as Hispanic. This type of discrimination and bias is inherent in our perception of appearance.

The simple stereotype of the dumb blonde and hot brunette should begin including ideas surrounding hair types outside of the Eurocentric ideal and make room for BIPOC individuals.

This hair binary permeates our everyday society and unconsciously determines how we interact with the people we know and meet. The issue here is not one hair colour being more beautiful than the other, but rather us not evaluating what these biases mean for people who are often overlooked or rejected when trying to fit into the mold of blonde or brunette.

Hair goes beyond ideas of attraction; it affects job opportunities and perpetuates exclusionary, Eurocentric ideals. Though hair is just hair—something that can be dyed, cut, and styled—how we attach meaning to it points to a systemic exclusion of BIPOC individuals.


BIPOC, Blondes, Brunettes, Exclusionary, hair, Stereotypes, Style, women

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