Sunday, June 29, 2008

"Puertorican blonde"

The first time I heard that term, I cringed. For those of you unfamiliar, it refers to the strange shade hair turns when your natural hair color is black as tar and you try to make it anything ligher than a light brown. Then, if your skin is darker than olive, add the contrast, and there you have it: puertorican blonde.

I remember always hearing my mother talking about how she thought people with darker skin should not be blonde because it seems "unnatural". Yeah, right, mom. Like using hair color is natural to begin with! Ha!

Now, I am not criticizing using haircolor at all. You see? I colored my hair for the first time when I was 30, because I wanted to cover some grays, and wanted a change. After that, I have experimented with different shades. And because many people, when they first see me, don't think I fit the "typical" puertorican image they have in their heads, I kind of got away with whatever color I put in my hair.

A former stylist, who swore she must have been Hispanic in a previous life, proclaimed she knew everything about handling 'ethnic' hair (whatever that means). So she knew about "Puertorican Blondes". She used the term once when she was trying to do highlights on me, and said we needed to be careful or my hair would turn in that dreaded shade. When I looked at her puzzled, she replied, "Go to that neighborhood where most Hispanics live, and you will see it all over...". Wow! Another strong stereotype my people have to deal with in a neighborhood not far from mine! And, you know what? Knowing how the ladies in the area are, I don't think they care...

To me it all comes down to perception: a bad haircolor job will show no matter who you are. Some hair colors will match certain complexions better than others. Some hair colors will make me look washed out, while others will eliven me. Some hair colors will enhance the hair's beauty and looks while others won't. With proper care, the hair will stay as healthy as possible and will not look brassy and brittle.

So, is not about being from any specific ethnic group. Playing with hair color is fun, but has to be done carefully, the same way you choose the appropriate clothes or make up. As for the ethnicity of it, who cares? And, who knows? Maybe one of these days I will dare to go to the salon, bleach my hair and become the proverbial "Puertorican Blonde" myself, just for the heck of it!


Cassy said...

Funny post! I know many Latinas who play with their hair color... me, I love mine natural dark, dark brown - the way I came to the world. Of course, now I need a little help to keep it dark, dark brown!

La Jibara said...

Gracias, Cassy! Your hair looks beautiful the way it is. Me, if I leave my hair natural, it would have more "canas" than dark, so I feel I need to color it...when I get old, maybe I would let grow all white...cuando este viejecita!

Elaine said...

Aha...wait till you see Scottish Blonde.

I dyed my hair once and it looked like sweet potatoe cornfield blonde. My ex said I looked like an Asian youth from Beverly Hills... It's all about being creative, isn't it. But boy did I make their eyes pop at work. Men started talking to me like never before.... I should post a pic of me from my blonde phase on my blog. Thanks for your post. I enjoyed it a lot. People think my daughter is Puerto Rican because she has her Dad's brown irises and my brown eyelids.

La Jibara said...

Thank you Elaine!

Raquel/Rachel said...

Yes, I know exactamente what you mean! When I was a kid growing up in PR the older folks joked that I was la rubia peligrosa and people always commented on my hair and how pretty it was. Then my family moved to the US when I was 14 and people described my hair as "brown" and nobody thought I had especially pretty hair. My younger daughter uses a brown marker to color my hair in her drawings, que traicion!

Cynthia Rae said...

Thanks for the visit! I am looking forward to reading through your blog. Wisconsin isn't too far from my home state (not far in the eyes of Americans, but VERY far in the eyes of ITalians)! Hehehehehe!

Wishing you a wonderful 4th of July! And yes, we WILL be celebrating here! Tomorrow we are hosting a cookout for Americans and ITalians!

Happy birthday America!


Cynthia Rae said...

ps. I don't think ANYONE in Italy has natural hair color! Hehehehehe!