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Something's Gotta Give

Four Women Writers on the Lasting Influence of Marilyn Monroe

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    Blonde Moment

    By Monica Corcoran Harel

    I didn't plan to get addicted to peroxide. But in 2003, I got dumped by a neurotic Irishman and a psychic told me to "lighten up… literally." So, I marched into the salon and asked for a dozen highlights—which was all I could afford… literally. I can still remember my first bracing whiff of bleach and the maternal warmth of the revolving halo-like heater. The result was psychologically stupendous: I suddenly felt more confident and flirtatious, like I had guzzled a glass of Champagne on an empty stomach.

    My hunch is that Marilyn Monroe, a brunette who stumbled into blondness, fell under the very same spell. Legend has it that the iconic actress didn't even intend to go blond. As the story goes, the 19-year-old model—known as Norma Jeane Dougherty at the time—went into Frank Joseph's Salon in Los Angeles to get her brown hair straightened and styled. The chemical process lightened her locks to a reddish-blond, and Marilyn got hooked.

    You can't blame her. The intoxicating effects of blondness have been proven. According to a 2008 study out of Nottingham Trent University in the U.K., women who dyed their hair blond were more likely to ask someone out, sing or dance in public, request a raise, and make a complaint in a restaurant.

    Going blond is like becoming Sandro Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus." It's empowering. And who could imagine the studios making a film titled Gentlemen Prefer Mousy Browns?

    Marilyn Monroe once said, "It takes a smart brunette to play a dumb blonde." She would know. In 1955, at the height of her blondness, she leveraged a deal with 20th Century Fox to make $100,000-plus and a share of profits for each film she made with the studio. Sometimes, blondes have more funds, too.

Something's Gotta Give
Four Women Writers on the Lasting Influence of Marilyn Monroe
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