Blonde Ambition: Iconic Blondes Shape History

Blondeness was created 11,000 years ago, toward the end of the last ice age, by a genetic mutation that has resulted in a look that some might regard as an iconic ideal.

We've heard of Madonna's "Blond Ambition" tour, the blond Barbie, the blond Bond, and even the popular "Legally Blonde" movies. And now, a retrospective on culture's interpretation of blondes has been put in a museum.

The Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University in St. Louis is presenting "Beauty and the Blonde: An Exploration of American Art and Popular Culture." The show looks at the way culture and art have interpreted the image of blondness in history.

It is curated by Catharina Manchanda, and it includes the famous silkscreens of Andy Warhol's Marilyn Monroe and Roy Lichtenstein's pop art images of blondes in comics.

So after all that research and hard work, who does Manchanda think are the most iconic blondes of our time?

"I would have to say Marilyn Monroe, Madonna, Debbie Harry," said Manchanda. "I think Madonna was really strident in the 1980s of making the blondes a very attractive image, a forceful one, a self-confident one."

According to a study conducted by Peter Frost, an anthropologist from Laval University in Quebec, blond hair originated in northern Europe in an area that had scarce food. Women with blond hair and blue eyes stood out from their rivals during a time of competition for the lack of males. At the time, you might say, "The cavemen preferred blondes," and so goes the evolution of the blond gene.

Until then, humans had brown hair and eyes.

But for all those bottle-bleached blondes out there, do not fret. You are not the only one. According to some estimates, only 1 percent to 2 percent of the people in the world are natural blondes.

"The Beauty and the Blonde: exhibit is on display until Jan. 28. Click here to visit the exhibit's Web site: Beauty and the Blonde

Click here to learn more about Peter Frost's research.

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