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Blonde Like Me

Blonde Like Me

The Roots of the Blonde Myth in Our Culture

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In this irreverent, unsparing, and witty look at our cultural obsession with blonde, Natalia Ilyin shows us that our apparently modern fixation has truly primeval roots. Highlighting cultural criticism with personal experience, she cites ancient myths, Hollywood iconography, and the daily assault of advertising to reveal why the allure of being a blonde has crossed the boundaries of ethnicity, economics, and age. In essence, she shows us the difference between simply having blonde hair and being a blonde.
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  • Touchstone | 
  • 192 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780684852140 | 
  • February 2000
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One: The Drugstore Goddess

It started naturally enough. I had the white hair as a child, and the streaming hippie-poetess blonde hair at twelve. But along about that time something started to happen, and it wasn't planned.

My hair got darker, finally ending up "dishwater" blonde, as my Southern grandmother used to call it. I am naturally dishwater blonde to this day, but even then, deep down in my psyche, I was blonde as sun.

The first thing you need to know about blondes is that you don't know any real ones. Not in your neighborhood, unless you happen to live upstairs from a Finnish tango parlor. Real, adult, fully... see more

Reading Group Guide

Touchstone Reading Group Guide
Blonde Like Me
Discussion Questions

1. Blonde Like Me appears to be a book about hair color. But it is really a book about identity. What are we trying to tell the world when we go blonde? Why do so many women choose to go blonde? What are you trying to tell the world when you cut, curl, perm, color, or grow your hair?
2. Fashion is a system of signs. We signal what we are thinking of ourselves and others by what we wear. Quick takes: say what high heels mean, what black leather means, what white lace means, what flat shoes mean. Why do these articles of clothing mean anything? Ask each person in the room to describe what she or he is wearing. Do you all agree? Is that person sending the signals that he wants to send? Is she aware of what she is saying with her clothes?
3. Changing your hair, wearing makeup, even picking out certain kinds of clothing can be a form of self-expression, but can also be a kind of mask. Think about some of the masks you have worn. Did you put them on voluntarily? Were you trying to conform to a cultural standard? Were you trying to avoid something unpleasant?
4. If a woman is trying to tell the world something through her hair color, makeup (or lack of it), and clothing, what might she also be trying to tell herself? Can changing the outer you also change the inner you? If the world treats you differently, do you become...different?
5. On a lighter note, Natalia Ilyin see more

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