Brunettes Dye To Be A Blond Kim Basinger

ALICE STEINBACH

February 23, 1992|By ALICE STEINBACH

It has come to my attention that very few women -- with the possible exceptions of Kim Basinger and my late, great-Aunt Cora -- are satisfied with the color of their hair.

I bring this up because a group of women recently gathered around my desk to talk about their hopes and dreams and how you only go 'round once in this life so you might as well go for the brass ring. Hair-color-wise, that is.

Exchanging confidences about hair color -- or to be precise, about altering one's hair color -- is one of those primitive bonding experiences that women go through. Some social scientists consider it the female equivalent to such male-bonding rituals as ice fishing or drumming around a fire.

Men never discuss hair color. Men are not obsessed with hair dTC color. Men, generally speaking, are more obsessed with having hair than coloring it. This particular obsession, as all have observed, usually results in a form of creative combing -- a formerly taboo subject which, I'm happy to say, is now openly being discussed in the men's movement.

But women have been upfront about coloring their hair for many years now. True, there was a time when it was commonly believed that women who bleached or tinted their hair were, well, common. Improper, somehow.

But all that has changed, and women now freely exchange war stories about the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat -- hair-color-wise.

Which brings me back to the group of women gathered around my desk. It turned out that all of us had experimented, at one time or another, with altered states of hair color.

Case No. 1: The brunette in the group admitted to a lifelong wish to be a redhead. She had tried everything -- from Cordovan Red shoe polish when she was a kid -- to a recent, botched henna job. The henna turned her dark hair orange.

Case No. 2: The blond who wanted blonder hair. White-blond hair, to be exact. Against her hair stylist's advice, she bleached it to a blinding blond color. "The color looked great," she reported. "Even when it all fell out on the bathroom floor."

Of course, that's one of the problems with trying to change your hair color: accidents can happen. In fact, everyone in the group admitted to having had green hair at one point in their life. And not by choice.

Among women the preferred hair color, according to a scientific but not very reliable poll I recently conducted, is -- surprise! -- blond. Which may account for the current world surplus of blonds. Even women renowned for their brunet hair -- women like Liz Taylor and Cher, to name two -- have succumbed to the wish for blondness. At least briefly.

And speaking of briefly, I once had jet black hair -- briefly.

Exactly why I chose in the summer of my 14th year to become someone with jet-black hair remains a mystery to me.

Anyway, I decided I was sick and tired of my mousy brown hair and wanted something more dramatic. Somehow, in what amounted to an incredible act of deception, I managed to persuade the horrified owner of the local beauty parlor that I had my mother's permission to dye my hair black.

My main memory of that event is the question put to me by a little kid who had accompanied his mother to the beauty shop: "Is that your real hair color?" he asked as I emerged from the hair dryer. For some reason, without even looking in the mirror, I knew he was not paying me a compliment.

So, is there anyone out there -- besides Kim Basinger and Aunt Cora, of course -- who is actually pleased as punch with her hair color the way it is?

My scientific -- but highly suspect -- polling turned up one such person.

"One thing I'm vain about is my hair," said this woman. "I'm a dark-haired person. My mother was dark-haired. God made us dark-haired and gave us dark-haired personalities. I could never feel comfortable any other way."

By the way, this woman -- excuse me, this dark-haired woman -- asked that her hair be described as "glossy and dark, alive with reddish highlights when hit by the sun." She also asked that I describe her as "a great beauty and Victoria-Principal look-alike, whose dark tresses only add to her aura of mystery and passion."

Which suddenly reminds me: That's exactly what the 14-year-old me was thinking -- that bit about "dark tresses . . . mystery and passion" -- when I persuaded Miss Louise to dye my hair black.

But that was before I realized that inside my mousy brown persona, a blond was waiting to get out.

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