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Blonde Like Me

The Roots of the Blonde Myth in Our Culture
By Natalia Ilyin

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 points out that there are different kinds of blondes as well as subsets of those blondes. The possibilities here are endless. What are the distinguishing features of an East-Side-of-Manhattan blonde? A Connecticut blonde? A Texas blonde? A corn-fed Midwest blonde? A Santa Barbara blonde? How are they different? Think of the blondes you know and start making up classifications for them. Then think about why you are classifying them that way!

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