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Blond or fair hair is a hair color characterized by low levels of the dark
pigment eumelanin. The resultant visible hue depends on various factors,
but always has some yellowish color. The color can be from the very pale
blond (caused by a patchy, scarce distribution of pigment) to reddish
"strawberry" blond or golden-brownish ("sandy") blond colors (the latter
with more eumelanin). Because hair color tends to darken with age, natural
blond hair is generally very rare in adulthood. Naturally-occurring blond
hair is primarily found in populations of northern European descent and is
believed to have evolved to enable more efficient synthesis of vitamin D,
due to northern Europe's lower levels of sunlight. Blond hair has also
developed in other populations, although it is usually not as common, and
can be found among natives of the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and Fiji,
among the Berbers of North Africa, and among some Asians.

In human culture, blond hair has long been associated with female beauty.
A man with blond hair and a blond
Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, was reputed to have
blond hair. In ancient Greece and Rome, blond hair was frequently
associated with prostitutes, who dyed their hair using saffron dyes in order
to attract customers. The Greeks stereotyped Thracians and slaves as blond and the Romans associated blondness
with the Celts and the Germans to the north. In western Europe during the Middle Ages, long, blond hair was idealized
as the paragon of female beauty. The Norse goddess Sif and the medieval heroine Iseult were both significantly
portrayed as blond and, in medieval artwork, Eve, Mary Magdalene, and the Virgin Mary are often shown with blond
hair. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, scientific racists categorized blond hair and blue eyes as
characteristics of the supreme Nordic race. In contemporary western culture, blonde women are often negatively
stereotyped as sexually attractive, but unintelligent.

Etymology, spelling, and grammar
Origins and meanings
Evolution of blond hair
Historical cultural perceptions
Ancient Greece
Roman Empire
Medieval Europe
Early twentieth-century racism

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Modern cultural stereotypes

See also
External links

Etymology, spelling, and grammar

Origins and meanings

The word "blond" is first documented in English in 1481[1] and derives
from Old French blund, blont, meaning "a colour midway between golden
and light chestnut".[2] It gradually eclipsed the native term "fair", of same
meaning, from Old English fæġer, causing "fair" later to become a general
term for "light complexioned". This earlier use of "fair" survives in the
proper name Fairfax, from Old English fæġer-feahs meaning "blond hair".

The word "blond" has two possible origins. Some linguists say it comes
from Medieval Latin blundus, meaning "yellow", from Old Frankish blund
which would relate it to Old English blonden-feax meaning "grey-haired",
from blondan/blandan meaning "to mix" (Cf. blend). Also, Old English Detail of a portrait of Crown Prince of
beblonden meant "dyed", as ancient Germanic warriors were noted for Poland Sigismund Casimir Vasa (c.
1644), with characteristic blond hair
dyeing their hair. However, linguists who favor a Latin origin for the word
which darkened with time as
say that Medieval Latin blundus was a vulgar pronunciation of Latin confirmed by his later effigies.
flavus, also meaning "yellow". Most authorities, especially French, attest
to the Frankish origin. The word was reintroduced into English in the 17th
century from French, and was for some time considered French; in French, "blonde" is a feminine adjective; it
describes a woman with blond hair.[3]

"Blond", with its continued gender-varied usage, is one of few adjectives in written English to retain separate
masculine and feminine grammatical genders. Each of the two forms, however, is pronounced identically. American
Heritage's Book of English Usage propounds that, insofar as "a blonde" can be used to describe a woman but not a
man who is merely said to possess blond(e) hair, the term is an example of a "sexist stereotype [whereby] women are
primarily defined by their physical characteristics."[4] The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) records that the phrase
"big blond beast" was used in the 20th century to refer specifically to men "of the Nordic type" (that is to say, blond-
haired).[5] The OED also records that blond as an adjective is especially used with reference to women, in which case it
is likely to be spelt "blonde", citing three Victorian usages of the term. The masculine version is used in the plural, in
"blonds of the European race",[5] in a citation from 1833 Penny cyclopedia, which distinguishes genuine blondness as
a Caucasian feature distinct from albinism.[6]

By the early 1990s, "blonde moment" or being a "dumb blonde" had come into common parlance to mean "an instance
of a person, esp. a woman... being foolish or scatter-brained."[7] Another hair color word of French origin, brunet(te)
(from the same Germanic root that gave "brown"), functions in the same way in orthodox English. The OED gives
"brunet" as meaning "dark-complexioned" or a "dark-complexioned person", citing a comparative usage of brunet and
blond to Thomas Henry Huxley in saying, "The present contrast of blonds and brunets existed among them."[8]

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"Brunette" can be used, however, like "blonde", to describe a mixed-gender

populace. The OED quotes Grant Allen, "The nation which resulted... being
sometimes blonde, sometimes brunette."[9]

"Blond" and "blonde" are also occasionally used to refer to objects that
have a color reminiscent of fair hair. For example, the OED records its use
in 19th-century poetic diction to describe flowers, "a variety of clay
ironstone of the coal measures", "the colour of raw silk",[5] a breed of ray,
lager beer, and pale wood.[10]

Various subcategories of blond hair have been defined to describe the
different shades and sources of the hair color more accurately. Common
examples include the following: Emperor Pedro II of Brazil with
blond hair, c. 1846
ash-blond:[11] ashen or grayish blond.
bleached blond, bottle blond, or peroxide blond:[12] terms used to
refer to artificially colored blond hair.
blond/flaxen:[13][14] when distinguished from other varieties, "blond"
by itself refers to a light but not whitish blond, with no traces of red,
gold, or brown; this color is often described as "flaxen".
dirty blond[15] or dishwater blond:[16] dark blond with flecks of
golden blond and brown.
golden blond: a darker to rich, golden-yellow blond (found mostly in
Northeastern Europe, i.e., Russia, Estonia).
honey blond: dark iridescent blond.
Blondes of different shades at
platinum blond[17] or towheaded:[18][19] whitish-blond; almost all WTMD's First Thursday series in
platinum blonds are children, although it is found on people in
Canton, Baltimore, Maryland, United
Northern Europe. "Platinum blond" is often used to describe bleached
hair, while "towheaded" generally refers to natural hair color. States, in June 2014
sandy blond:[20][21] grayish-hazel or cream-colored blond.
strawberry blond[22] or Venetian blond: reddish blond[23][24][25][26][27]
yellow: yellow-blond ("yellow" can also be used to refer to hair which has been dyed yellow).

A woman with long A young man with light

blond hair blond hair

Evolution of blond hair

Natural lighter hair colors occur most often in Europe and less frequently in other areas.[28] In Northern European
populations, the occurrence of blond hair is very frequent. The hair color gene MC1R has at least seven variants in
Europe, giving the continent a wide range of hair and eye shades. Based on a genetic research carried out at three
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Japanese universities, the date of the genetic mutation that resulted in blond hair in Europe has been isolated to about
11,000 years ago during the last ice age.[29]

A typical explanation found in the scientific literature for the evolution of light hair is related to the evolution of light
skin, and in turn the requirement for vitamin D synthesis and northern Europe's seasonal less solar radiation.[30]
Lighter skin is due to a low concentration in pigmentation, thus allowing more sunlight to trigger the production of
vitamin D. In this way, high frequencies of light hair in northern latitudes are a result of the light skin adaptation to
lower levels of solar radiation, which reduces the prevalence of rickets caused by vitamin D deficiency. The darker
pigmentation at higher latitudes in certain ethnic groups such as the Inuit is explained by a greater proportion of
seafood in their diet and by the climate which they live in, because in the polar climate there is more ice or snow on the
ground, and this reflects the solar radiation onto the skin, making this environment lack the conditions for the person
to have blond, brown or red hair, light skin and blue, grey or green eyes.

An alternative hypothesis was presented by Canadian anthropologist Peter Frost, who claims blond hair evolved very
quickly in a specific area at the end of the last ice age by means of sexual selection.[31] According to Frost, the
appearance of blond hair and blue eyes in some northern European women made them stand out from their rivals,
and more sexually appealing to men, at a time of fierce competition for scarce males.[31][32]

The derived allele of KITLG associated with blond hair in modern Europeans is present in several individuals of the
Ancient North Eurasian (ANE) lineage, and is recorded in Mesolithic Eastern Europe as associated with the Eastern
European Hunter-Gatherer (EHG) lineage derived from ANE. The earliest known individual with the derived allele is
the ANE Afontova Gora 3 individual, dated to 14,700 years ago.[33] Ancient DNA of ANE or "steppe" ancestry is found
in Mesolithic Northern Europe.

A 2014 study reported seven Mesolithzic hunter-gatherers found at Motala, southern Sweden, dated to 7,700 years
ago, as the earliest known individuals in whom the modern Scandinavian phenotype, combining light skin, blue eyes
and blond hair, was combined. These individuals had light skin gene alleles in SLC24A5 and SLC45A2, and
HERC2/OCA2 alleles associated with blue eyes (also contributes to lighter skin and blond hair).[34] Light pigmentation
traits had thus already existed in pre-Indo-European Europeans, since at least the later Mesolithic.[35] Later
individuals with Yamnaya ancestry, by contrast, were predominantly dark-eyed (brown), dark-haired and had a skin
colour that was moderately light, though somewhat darker than that of the average modern European.[36]

It is possible that blond hair evolved more than once. A 2012 study published in Science reported a distinct genetic
origin of blond hair in people from the Solomon Islands in Melanesia, associated with an amino acid change in TYRP1
produced blond hair.[37][38]

Blond hair is most common in light-skinned infants and children,[39] so much so that the term "baby blond" is often
used for very light colored hair. Babies may be born with blond hair even among groups where adults rarely have
blond hair, although such natural hair usually falls out quickly. Blond hair tends to turn darker with age, and many
children's blond hair turns light, medium, dark brown or black before or during their adult years.[39] Because blond
hair tends to turn brunette with age, natural blond hair is rare in adulthood;[40][41] according to the sociologist Christie
Davies, only around five percent of adults in Europe and North America are naturally blond.[40] A study conducted in
2003 concluded that only four percent of American adults are naturally blond.[41] Nonetheless, a significant majority
of Caucasian women (perhaps as high as three in four) dye their hair blond, a significantly higher percentage than for
any other hair color.[40][42]


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Blond hair is most common in Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea countries,
where true blondism is believed to have originated. The pigmentation of
both hair and eyes is lightest around the Baltic Sea, and darkness increases
regularly and almost concentrically around this region.[43]

In France, according to a source published 1939, blondism is more

common in Normandy, and less common in the Pyrenees and the
Mediterranean seacoast; 26% of French population has blond or light
brown hair.[44] A 2007 study of French females showed that by then
roughly 20% were blonde, although half of these blondes were fully fake.
Roughly ten percent of French females are natural blondes, of which 60%
bleach their hair to a lighter tone of blond.[45]
Incidence of Blond hair in Europe

In Portugal, an average 11% of the population shows traces of blondism,

peaking at 14.3–15.1% blond people in Póvoa de Varzim in northern
Portugal.[46][47] In northern Spain, 17% of the population shows traces of blondism, but in southern Spain just 2% of
the people are blond.[48] In Italy, a study of Italian men conducted by Ridolfo Livi between 1859 and 1863 on the
records of the National Conscription Service showed that 8.2% of Italian men exhibited blond hair. Blondism
frequency varies among regions from 12.6% in Veneto, to 1.7% in Sardinia.[49] In a more detailed study from the 20th-
century geneticist Renato Biasutti,[50] the regional contrasts of blondism frequency are better shown, with a greater
occurrence in the northern regions where the figure could be over 20%, and a lesser occurrence in the south such as
Sardinia where the frequency was less than 2.4%. With the exception of Benevento and the surrounding area where
various shades of blond hair were present in 10%–14.9% of the population, other southern regions averaged between
2.5% and 7.4%.[51]

Blondism is a common sight among Berbers of North Africa, especially in the Rif and Kabyle region. Blondism
frequency varies among Berbers from 1% among Jerban Berbers and 4% among Mozabite Berbers and Shawia
Berbers, to 11% among Kabyle Berbers.[52] In South Africa where there is a significant population of whites, mainly
from Dutch and English ancestry, blond people may account for 3-4% of the South African population.

A number of blond naturally mummified bodies of common people (i.e. not proper mummies) dating to Roman times
have been found in the Fagg El Gamous cemetery in Egypt. "Of those whose hair was preserved 54% were blondes or
redheads, and the percentage grows to 87% when light-brown hair color is added."[53] Excavations have been ongoing
since the 1980s. Burials seem to be clustered by hair-colour.[54]

Aboriginal Australians, especially in the west-central parts of the
continent, have a high frequency of natural blond-to-brown hair.
Blondness is also found in some other parts of the South Pacific, such as
the Solomon Islands,[37][38] Vanuatu, and Fiji, again with higher
incidences in children. Blond hair in Melanesians is caused by an amino
acid change in the gene TYRP1.[37] This mutation is at a frequency of 26%
in the Solomon Islands and is absent outside of Oceania.[37]

Blonde girl from Vanuatu


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Blond hair can be found in any region of Asia, including West Asia, East Asia, Central Asia, and South Asia. In these
parts of Asia, blond hair is generally seen among children and usually turns into a shade of dark brown in adulthood.
Environmental factors, such as sun exposure and nutrition status, often contribute to changes in hair color in Asia.[55]
Genetic research published in 2014, 2015 and 2016 found that Yamnaya Proto-Indo-Europeans, who migrated to
Europe in the early Bronze Age were overwhelmingly dark-eyed (brown) and dark-haired, and had a skin colour that
was moderately light, though somewhat darker than that of the average modern European.[36] While light
pigmentation traits had already existed in pre-Indo-European Europeans (both farmers and hunter-gatherers), long-
standing philological attempts to correlate them with the arrival of Indo-Europeans from the steppes were

According to genetic studies, Yamnaya Proto-Indo-European migration to

Europe led to Corded Ware culture, where Yamnaya Proto-Indo-
Europeans mixed with "Scandinavian hunter-gatherer" women who
carried genetic alleles HERC2/OCA2, which causes a combination of blue
eyes and blond hair.[56][57][34] Proto-Indo-Iranians who split from Corded
Ware culture formed the Andronovo culture and are believed to have
spread genetic alleles HERC2/OCA2 that cause blond hair to parts of West
Asia, Central Asia and South Asia.[57] Genetic analysis in 2014 also found
that people of the Afanasevo culture which flourished in the Altai
Uyghur girl in Turpan, Xinjiang,
Mountains were genetically identical to Yamnaya Proto-Indo-Europeans
and that they did not carry genetic alleles for blond hair or light
eyes.[58][56][57] The Afanasevo culture was later replaced by a second wave
of Indo-European invaders from the Andronovo culture, who were a product of Corded Ware admixture that took
place in Europe, and carried genetic alleles that cause blond hair and light eyes.[58][56][57] In 2009 and 2014, genomic
study of Tarim mummies discovered in the Tarim Basin in present-day Xinjiang, China, showed that they were also a
product of a Corded Ware admixture and were genetically closer to the Andronovo culture (which split from Corded
Ware culture)[57] than to the Yamnaya culture or Afanasevo culture.[59][58]

Today, higher frequencies of light hair in Asia are more prevalent among Pamiris, Kalash, Nuristani and Uyghur
children than in adult populations of these ethnic groups.[60] About 75% of Russia is geographically considered North
Asia; however, the Asian portion of Russia contributes to only an estimate of 20% of Russia's total population.[61]
North Asia's population has an estimate of 1-19% with light hair.[62][63] From the times of the Russian Tsardom of the
17th century through the Soviet Union rule in the 20th century, many ethnic Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians,
Lithuanians, Latvians, and Estonians were settled in or exiled en masse to Siberia and Central Asia. Blond hair is often
seen in these groups, whereas the indigenous peoples are more likely to be dark haired.[64][65][66] For instance, their
descendants currently contribute to an estimated 25% of Kazakhstan's total population.[67]

Many actors and actresses in Latin America and Hispanic United States have blond hair, blue eyes, and pale

Historical cultural perceptions

Ancient Greece
Most people in ancient Greece had dark hair and, as a result of this, the Greeks found blond hair immensely
fascinating.[77] In the Homeric epics, Menelaus the king of the Spartans is, together with some other Achaean leaders,
portrayed as blond.[78] Other blond characters in the Homeric poems are Peleus, Achilles, Meleager, Agamede, and
Rhadamanthys.[78] Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, was often described as golden-haired and
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portrayed with this color hair in

art.[79] Aphrodite's master epithet
in the Homeric epics is Χρυσεη
(Khryseē), which means
"golden".[80] The traces of hair
color on Greek korai probably
reflect the colors the artists saw
in natural hair;[81] these colors
include a broad diversity of
shades of blond, red, and
brown.[81] The minority of
statues with blond hair range
from strawberry blond up to
platinum blond.[81]

Sappho of Lesbos (c. 630-570

BC) wrote that purple-colored
wraps as headdress were good
enough, except if the hair was
blond: "...for the girl who has
hair that is yellower than a torch
[it is better to decorate it] with
wreaths of flowers in bloom."[82]
Sappho also praises Aphrodite
for her golden hair, stating that
since gold metal is free from rust,
the goddess's golden hair
represents her freedom from
ritual pollution.[80] Sappho's
contemporary Alcman of Sparta
praised golden hair as one of the
Left image: Reconstructed Blond Kouros's Head of the Acropolis, c. 480 BC.
most desirable qualities of a
Right image: Ganymede, a Trojan youth, rolling a hoop, Attic vase c. 500 BC.
beautiful woman,[80] describing
in various poems "the girl with
the yellow hair" and a girl "with the hair like purest gold."[80]

In the fifth century BC, the sculptor Pheidias may have depicted the Greek goddess of wisdom Athena's hair using gold
in his famous statue of Athena Parthenos, which was displayed inside the Parthenon.[83] The Greeks thought of the
Thracians who lived to the north as having reddish-blond hair.[84] Because many Greek slaves were captured from
Thrace, slaves were stereotyped as blond or red-headed.[84] "Xanthias" (Ξανθίας), meaning "reddish blond", was a
common name for slaves in ancient Greece[84][85] and a slave by this name appears in many of the comedies of

The most famous statue of Aphrodite, the Aphrodite of Knidos, sculpted in the fourth century BC by Praxiteles,
represented the goddess's hair using gold leaf[86] and contributed to the popularity of the image of Aphrodite as a
blonde goddess.[87] Greek prostitutes frequently dyed their hair blond using saffron dyes or colored powders.[88] Blond
dye was highly expensive, took great effort to apply, and smelled repugnant,[88] but none of these factors inhibited
Greek prostitutes from dying their hair.[88] As a result of this and the natural rarity of blond hair in the Mediterranean
region, by the fourth century BC, blond hair was inextricably associated with prostitutes.[88] The comic playwright
Menander (c. 342/41 – c. 290 BC) protests that "no chaste woman ought to make her hair yellow."[88] At another

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point, he deplores blond hair dye as dangerous: "What can we women do wise or brilliant, who sit with hair dyed
yellow, outraging the character of gentlewomen, causing the overthrow of houses, the ruin of nuptials, and accusations
on the part of children?"[88] Historian and Egyptologist Joann Fletcher asserts that the Macedonian ruler Alexander
the Great and members of the Macedonian-Greek Ptolemaic dynasty of Hellenistic Egypt had blond hair, such as
Arsinoe II and Berenice II.[89]

The male figure of the The goddess Hera (according to the Terracotta vase in
Etruscan sarcophagus description on the cup); tondo of an Attic the shape of
known as the white-ground kylix from Vulci, c. 470 BC Dionysus' head, c.
Sarcophagus of the 410 BC; on display in
Spouses (Louvre, the Ancient Agora
Paris), 520–510 BC Museum in Athens,
housed in the Stoa of

Pottery vessel of Aphrodite in An ancient Greek A youth pours a

a shell; from Attica, Classical pottery (terracotta) libation to a dead
Greece, discovered at figurine from Taras man sitting in a
Phanagoria, Taman (modern Taranto), naiskos; from an
Peninsula (Bosporan Magna Graecia, Altes Apulian red-figure
Kingdom, southern Russia), Museum volute-krater pelike,
early 4th century BC, 340–320 BC
Hermitage Museum, Saint

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Stag Hunt Mosaic, possibly Alexander the Great (left), wearing a kausia and fighting an Asiatic lion with
depicting Alexander the Great, his friend Craterus (detail); late 4th-century BC mosaic from Pella[90]
Pella, Greece, 4th century BC.

Detail of a krater with A Gnathia-style ceramic

Female acrobat shooting an Apulian red-figure
volutes in terracotta; vessel from ancient
arrow with a bow in her feet; Oinochoe with Lid by
Greek art from Magna Graecia (Apulia,
Gnathia style pelike; 4th the Ganymed Painter
Southern Italy, c. 330– Italy), depicting a blond
century BC (Oinochoe) and
320 BC. winged youth with a
Armidale Painter (Lid):
Phrygian cap, with lion
head in a calyx between
head spouts, by the
tendrils. About 340–310
"Toledo" painter, c. 300
BC. Antikensammlung

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Woman's Color Reconstructed The Greek goddess Artemis.

head on an reconstruction of polychromy of a Color reconstruction of a 1st-
alabastron in statue of a young vase-shaped century AD statue found in
gnathia style; girl from the tombstone from Pompeii. Reconstructed using
Apulian vase Parthenon in Athens, c. 330 BC, analysis of trace pigments. It
painting, Athens, 520 BC. Ny Carlsberg was an imitation of Greek
Magna Based on analysis Glyptotek, statues of the 6th century BC.
Graecia, of trace pigments. Copenhagen
lung Kiel

The Treu Head, 2nd

century AD. Color
reconstruction of marble
head of likely a goddess.
The head was found at
the Esquiline Hill, Rome,
and preserves numerous
colour traces.

Roman Empire
During the early years of the Roman Empire, blond hair was associated with prostitutes.[91] The preference changed to
bleaching the hair blond when Greek culture, which practiced bleaching, reached Rome, and was reinforced when the
legions that conquered Gaul returned with blond slaves.[92] Sherrow also states that Roman women tried to lighten
their hair, but the substances often caused hair loss, so they resorted to wigs made from the captives' hair.[93]
According to Francis Owens, Roman literary records describe a large number of well-known Roman historical
personalities as blond.[94]

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On the left: Statue of Antinous (Delphi), depiting Antinous, polychrome Parian marble, made during the reign of
Hadrian (r. 117–138 AD)
On the right: detail of athletic women in the "bikini girls" mosaic of the Villa Romana del Casale, Roman Sicily,
4th century AD

Juvenal wrote in a satirical poem that Messalina, Roman empress of noble birth, would hide her black hair with a
blond wig for her nightly visits to the brothel: sed nigrum flavo crinem abscondente galero intravit calidum veteri
centone lupanar.[95] In his Commentary on the Aeneid of Virgil, Maurus Servius Honoratus noted that the respectable
matron was only black haired, never blonde.[96] In the same passage, he mentioned that Cato the Elder wrote that
some matrons would sprinkle golden dust on their hair to make it reddish-color. Emperor Lucius Verus (r. 161 – 169
AD) was said to sprinkle gold-dust on his already "golden" blond hair to make it even blonder and brighter.[97]

From an ethnic point of view, Roman authors associated blond and red hair with the Gauls and the Germans: e.g.,
Virgil describes the hair of the Gauls as "golden" (aurea caesaries),[98] Tacitus wrote that "the Germans have fierce
blue eyes, red-blond hair (rutilae comae), huge (tall) frames";[99] in accordance with Ammianus, almost all the Gauls
were "of tall stature, fair and ruddy".[100] Celtic and Germanic peoples of the provinces, among the free subjects called
peregrini, served in Rome's armies as auxilia, such as the cavalry contingents in the army of Julius Caesar.[101] Some
became Roman citizens as far back as the 1st century BC, following a policy of Romanization of Gaul and Lesser
Germania.[102] Sometimes entire Celtic and Germanic tribes were granted citizenship, such as when emperor Otho
granted citizenship to all of the Lingones in 69 AD.[103]

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By the 1st century BC, the Roman Republic had expanded its control into parts of western Germany, and by 85 AD the
provinces of Germania Inferior and Germania Superior were formally established there.[104] Yet as late as the 4th
century AD, Ausonius, a poet and tutor from Burdigala, wrote a poem about an Alemanni slave girl named Bissula,
who he had recently freed after she'd been taken as a prisoner of war in the campaigns of Valentinian I, noting that her
adopted Latin language marked her as a woman of Latium yet her blond-haired, blue-eyed appearance ultimately
signified her true origins from the Rhine.[105] Further south, the Iberian peninsula was originally inhabited by
Celtiberians outside of Roman control. The gradual Roman conquest of Iberia was completed by the early 1st century
AD.[106] The Romans established provinces such as Hispania Terraconensis that were inhabited largely by Gallaeci,
whose red and blond-haired descendants (which also include those of Visigothic origins) have continued to inhabit
northern areas of Spain such as Galicia and Portugal into the modern era.[106]

Roman fresco from Pompeii Ancient Roman fresco (detail) featuring Perseus and the
showing a Maenad in silk head of Medusa, Stabiae, Italy, 1st century AD.
dress, 1st century AD

Fresco depicting a seated woman, from Mosaic of Aphrodite from

the Villa Arianna at Stabiae, 1st century Pompeii

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A maenad holding a cupid, Pompeii, 1st Ancient Roman bust of Remnants of a Roman
century AD Antinous, made during the bust of a youth with a
reign of Hadrian (117–138 blond beard, perhaps
AD), National Archaeological depicting Roman emperor
Museum in Athens. Commodus (r. 177–192),
National Archaeological
Museum, Athens

Roman mosaic depicting a

feminine personification, from the
A blond man in a Roman fresco A mosaic from Tusculum Boathouse of Psyche in Daphne
from Klagenfurt, Austria, depicting Athena, 3rd century (suburb of Antioch), beginning of
Landesmuseum für Kärnten AD 3rd century AD, Louvre Museum

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A boy holding a platter of fruits A mosaic of young boys hunting from the Villa
and what may be a bucket of Romana del Casale, Roman Sicily, 4th century AD
crabs, in a kitchen with fish and
squid, on the June panel from a
mosaic depicting the months (3rd

A Roman fresco depicting the goddess Mosaic depicting Odysseus,

Diana hunting, 4th century AD, from the from La Olmeda, Spain, late
Via Livenza hypogeum in Rome 4th–5th centuries AD

Achilles being adored by princesses of Skyros,

from a mythological scene in which Odysseus
(Ulysses) discovers him dressed as a woman
and hiding among the princesses at the royal
court of Skyros. A late Roman mosaic from La
Olmeda, Spain, 4th–5th centuries AD

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Medieval Europe
Medieval Scandinavian art and literature often places emphasis on the
length and color of a woman's hair,[108] considering long, blond hair to be
the ideal.[108] In Norse mythology, the goddess Sif has famously blond hair,
which some scholars have identified as representing golden wheat.[109] In
the Old Norse Gunnlaug Saga, Helga the Beautiful, described as "the most
beautiful woman in the world", is said to have hair that is "as fair as beaten
gold" and so long that it can "envelope her entirely".[108] In the Poetic Edda
poem Rígsþula, the blond man Jarl is considered to be the ancestor of the
dominant warrior class. In Northern European folklore, supernatural
beings value blond hair in humans. Blond babies are more likely to be
stolen and replaced with changelings, and young blonde women are more
likely to be lured away to the land of the beings.[110]

The Scandinavians were not the only ones to place strong emphasis on the
beauty of blond hair;[108] the French writer Christine de Pisan writes in her
book The Treasure of the City of Ladies (1404) that "there is nothing in the
world lovelier on a woman's head than beautiful blond hair."[108] In
medieval artwork, female saints are often shown with long, shimmering
blond hair, which emphasizes their holiness and virginity.[111] At the same Mary Magdalene (c. 1480–1487),
time, however, Eve is often shown with long, blond hair, which frames her altarpiece in International Gothic
style by Carlo Crivelli showing her
nude body and draws attention to her sexual attractiveness.[91][112] In
with long, blond hair
medieval Gothic paintings of the crucifixion of Jesus, the figure of Mary
Magdalene is shown with long, blond hair, which flows down her back
unbound in contrast to most of the women in the scenes, who are shown with dark hair, normally covered by a
scarf.[113] In the older versions of the story of Tristan and Iseult, Tristan falls in love with Iseult after seeing only a
single lock of her long, blond hair.[114] In fact, Iseult was so closely associated with blondness that, in the poems of
Chrétien de Troyes, she is called "Iseult le Blonde".[114] In Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (written from 1387
until 1400), the knight describes the beautiful Princess Emily in his tale, stating, "yclothed was she fressh, for to
devyse:/Hir yellow heer was broided in a tresse/Behinde hir bak, a yerde long, I gesse" (lines 1048-1050).[114]

Because of blond hair's relative commonness in northern Europe, especially among children, folk tales from these
regions tend to feature large numbers of blond protagonists.[91][115] Although these stories may not have been seen by
their original tellers as idealizing blond hair,[115] when they are read in cultures outside of northern Europe where
blond hair "has rarity value", they may seem to connote that blond hair is a sign of special purity.[115]

During the medieval period, Spanish ladies preferred to dye their hair black, yet by the time of the Renaissance in the
16th century the fashion (imported from Italy) was to dye their hair blond or red.[116]

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Fourteenth-century painting by Giusto International Gothic Detail of the blond Virgin

de' Menabuoi of Adam and Eve being showing Mary Mary from Leonardo da
expelled from Eden by an angel, Magdalene covered by Vinci's Annunciation (c.
showing all three as blond her long, blond hair as 1472-1475)
she is lifted by angels in
SS. Johns' Cathedral in

Adam and Eve (1507) by The Creation of Eve (1508 - 1512) by

Albrecht Dürer, showing Michelangelo, showing Eve as blond
Eve with blond hair

Early twentieth-century racism

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, blond hair, blue eyes, a tall stature, a long head, and an angled
nose were deemed by scientific racists as hallmarks of the so-called "master race".[117][118] In the nineteenth century,
this race was usually referred to as the "Germanic race",[117] but after the turn of the twentieth century, it came to be
more commonly known as the "Nordic race".[117] German and Scandinavian scientists and academics throughout the
early part of the twentieth century studied racial typology to the point of obsession[119] and debated the features of the
Nordic race extensively.[119]

In the 1920s, the eugenicist Eugen Fischer invented the Fischer hair color table (Fischer Haarfarbentafel) to
scientifically document hair color, which consisted of twenty-six bundles of cellulose fiber coated in non-fading colors
attached to a palette and labeled with numbers.[120] Lighter colors were given higher numbers and darker ones were
given lower numbers, with the distinction between "blond" and "brown" being set between seven and eight.[121]
Fischer was a passionate supporter of Nazi eugenics and warned that miscegenation would result in the deterioration
of modern civilization.[122] Dispute over the exact distinction between blond and brown hair was a heated debate
among Norwegian anthropologists during this period,[123] with Halfdan Bryn arguing that the distinction should

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In the early twentieth century, blond hair was considered a hallmark of the Nordic "master race",[117][118] as
shown by these Nazi propaganda photographs, which were intended to demonstrate what pure Nordic Aryans
were supposed to look like.

instead be set between six and seven.[124]

By the end of the 1920s, the International Federation of Eugenics Organizations (IFEO), the leading international
eugenics organization, became increasingly dominated by proponents of the racial hygiene movement,[125] who sought
to turn the organization into "Blond International", which would be "aimed at the purification and propagation of the
Nordic race."[125] After the Nazi Party came to power in Germany in 1933, racial anthropology based on the ideas of
genetic superiority and racial psychology "became increasingly hegemonic in Germany."[125] The Nazis revered blond
hair as a quality of the herrenrasse ("master race").[118]

The idea of racial superiority, which once dominated the field of anthropology, has now been completely and
unanimously rejected by modern scientists.[126] Modern scientists have also rejected the assertions and beliefs of pre-
World War II racialists.[127] Classification of race based on physical characteristics such as hair color is seen as a
"flawed, pseudo-scientific relic of the past."[126] Many modern scientists dispute whether the concept of "race" is even
a useful classification for human beings at all.[127]

Modern cultural stereotypes

In contemporary popular culture, blonde women are stereotyped as being more sexually attractive to men than women
with other hair colors.[92] For example, Anita Loos popularized this idea in her 1925 novel Gentlemen Prefer
Blondes.[92] Some women have reported they feel other people expect them to be more fun-loving after having
lightened their hair.[92]

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Madonna popularized the short

bleached blond haircut after the
release of her third studio
album, True Blue, and
influenced both the 1980s
fashion scene as well as many
future female musicians like
Christina Aguilera, Lady Gaga,
and Miley Cyrus.[128]

Originating in Europe, the
"blonde stereotype" is also Portrait of a Woman by Bartolomeo
associated with being less Veneto, traditionally assumed to be
serious or less intelligent.[92] Lucrezia Borgia
The Saturday Evening Post (1910).
Fitzgerald was a frequent Blonde jokes are a class of jokes
contributor in the 1920s. based on the stereotype of
blonde women as
unintelligent.[92][129] In Brazil,
this extends to blonde women being looked down, as reflected in sexist
jokes, as also sexually licentious.[130] It is believed the originator of the
dumb blonde was an eighteenth-century blonde French prostitute named
Rosalie Duthé whose reputation of being beautiful but dumb inspired a
play about her called Les Curiosites de la Foire (Paris 1775).[92] Blonde
actresses have contributed to this perception; some of them include
Marilyn Monroe, Judy Holliday, Jayne Mansfield, and Goldie Hawn during
her time at Laugh-In.[92]
In Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
The British filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock preferred to cast blonde women
(1953), one of the films in which
for major roles in his films as he believed that the audience would suspect Monroe portrayed a sexually
them the least, comparing them to "virgin snow that shows up the bloody attractive and naïve "dumb blonde"
footprints", hence the term Hitchcock blonde.[131] This stereotype has
become so ingrained it has spawned counter-narratives, such as in the
2001 film Legally Blonde in which Elle Woods, played by Reese Witherspoon, succeeds at Harvard despite biases
against her beauty and blond hair.[92]

In the 1950s, the American actress Marilyn Monroe's screen persona centered on her blond hair and the stereotypes
associated with it, especially dumbness, naïveté, sexual availability and artificiality.[132] She often used a breathy,
childish voice in her films, and in interviews gave the impression that everything she said was "utterly innocent and
uncalculated", parodying herself with double entendres that came to be known as "Monroeisms".[133] For example,
when she was asked what she had on in the 1949 nude photo shoot, she replied, "I had the radio on".[134] Monroe often
wore white to emphasize her blondness, and drew attention by wearing revealing outfits that showed off her
figure.[135] Although Monroe's typecast screen persona as a dim-witted but sexually attractive blonde was a carefully
crafted act, audiences and film critics believed it to be her real personality and did not realize that she was only

The notion that blonds are less intelligent is not grounded in fact. A 2016 study of 10,878 Americans found that both
women and men with natural blond hair had IQ scores similar to the average IQ of non-blond white Americans, and
that white women with natural blond hair in fact had a higher average IQ score (103.2) than white women with brown
hair (102.7), red hair (101.2), or black hair (100.5). Although many consider blonde jokes to be harmless, the author of
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the study stated the stereotype can have serious negative effects on hiring, promotion and other social
experiences.[137][138] Rhiannon Williams of The Telegraph writes that dumb blonde jokes are "one of the last
'acceptable' forms of prejudice".[139]

See also

Disappearing blonde gene

Human hair color

Auburn hair
Black hair
Brown hair
Red hair


Blonde vs. brunette rivalry

Blonde stereotype
Go Blonde Festival

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44. Coon, Carleton S. The Races of Europe. "France as a whole finds but 4 per cent of black and near-black hair
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degrees of blond, and some 4 per cent of reddish-brown and red. (...)
The regional distribution of hair color in France follows closely that of stature. Although the position of the French
in regard to hair pigmentation is intermediate between blond and black, the diagonal line from Mont St. Michel to
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speaking country, and on the Mediterranean seacoast. Blond hair is commonest along the Channel, in regions
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departments are probably as light-haired as some of the provinces of southern Germany." |access-date=
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b.archive.org/web/20130725150028/http://www.theapricity.com/snpa/chapter-XI15.htm) from the original on 25
July 2013. Retrieved 9 July 2013. "In Spain, as a whole, some 29 per cent of the male population has black hair,
some 68 per cent dark brown, while traces of blondism are visible in 17 per cent. (...) As in southern Spain, the
skin color is evenly divided between a light brown, 45 per cent, and brunet-white, 45 per cent, while pinkish-white
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which amounts to 68 per cent of the total; blond and red hair is limited to 2 per cent."
49. Livi, Ridolfo (1921). Antropometria Militare. Risultati Ottenuti Dallo Spoglio Dei Fogli Sanitarii Dei Militari Dello
Classi 1859-63. Turin: Nabu Press. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
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