At seven years old, I desired nothing more than a Marilyn Monroe doll. It was a scaled-down Monroe in the evening gown she wore for Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend, which was made from shocking pink satin with rhinestones adorning her plastic, wanton figure.
Every asset of this figurine enamored me, and I just knew that when I grew up, I wanted to be just like her. I wanted to dress like she did, date men like she did, and smoke cigarettes like she did. But guess what? So did Anna Nicole Smith, and that didn’t work out too well for her.
That year, I asked my grandmother if I could have the coveted Marilyn Monroe doll for my birthday.
“Sorry Syd, I just don’t want you having a doll of someone like her.”
My doll was being denied to me because of her ethically questionable character, perhaps in some last attempt at making me into a wholesome young lady. Or something. Her shtick was based not only on her hair, but also her capricious, unserious, ditsy nature, creating a stereotype for many blondes after her illustrious career.
Refusal to grant my request might have stemmed from Polish Catholic morals — or perhaps a bit of envy — but my grandmother would have bought me a parade of show ponies, a Ferris wheel, a bubblegum factory and a lifetime supply of Benson & Hedges instead of this symbol of, though yet unbeknownst to me, scandal and promiscuity. I could sense that my grandma knew something I didn’t know. After all, I did own a number (okay, a small country) of Barbies, and Barbie wasn’t exactly modest, either. Her shiny synthetic body was rarely covered up with anything more than a square inch, give or take, of suggestive, sparkly cloth.
But then again, Barbie didn’t sleep with a Kennedy while he was in office. Or pose naked in Playboy. Or screw her way through Hollywood. So for me, at least for a few more years, Marilyn Monroe would be forbidden fruit.
Some gentlemen, although I can’t say that I can call all the ones in my experience “gentlemen,” do prefer blondes. I suspect this attraction is based off of some primal instinct comparable to flies being attracted to a light. Example: one of my best friends — also blonde — and I were at a party where we were by no means the prettiest attendees, but were almost automatically courted by a group of chaps who kindly escorted us to the private section of their house to further the conversation there. Surely they were enthralled by my extensive knowledge of ancient Greek philology. Wrong: blonde was just the easiest color to see in dim lighting.
And there’s that age-old aphorism, first spoken by Plato’s Socrates (or maybe someone else?), that blondes have more fun. This theory is attributed to the notion that hair pigmentation correlates with intelligence, and that fun comes from a state of ignorance. As a light blonde, I have just enough neurons to open a carton of milk, breathe and decline Latin nouns.
I have always loved being the token blonde person in most of my friend circles, though it comes with some undesirable qualities, namely being called “Blondie,” “Tweedle Dumb” and “Snow White” for the pallid, sickly shade of my pale, freckled skin that often accompanies such a light hair color and blue eyes.
Many people I’ve encountered have said I appear aloof, “out of it,” or generally dull, as growing up I constantly got “are you okay”s and “are you with me here”s from teachers. These people might be disappointed in me to know that I give off this vibe because I’m in fact daydreaming of floating on a pink cotton-candy cloud or maybe doing something as ambitious as being a mermaid on a rock somewhere on Martha’s Vineyard.
What were we talking about? Kidding. These misperceptions could be no farther from the truth. When I seem so absent-minded, it is because I find the person attempting to engage me in conversation boring and uninteresting. Otherwise, although on a daily basis I fail to see the obvious and have many, many moments of archetypal blonde ditsy-ness, at random moments what might be a minor realization to you ends up being a life-changing, revelatory epiphany to me.
See, being blonde really is more fun. It isn’t that bad.
Still, when asked in an interview in 1962 if she felt happy in life, Marilyn Monroe said she came the closest to being happy only in short moments, but that in general she was miserable. Two years later, she died alone of a sleeping pill overdose, which analysts decided was a probable suicide. Maybe there was a good reason as to why I wasn’t allowed to have her as a role model.
Sydney Shea is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected].