There’s no formal definition of beauty. There never has been. As the cliché goes, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." It’s not like there’s some systematic outline for what's beautiful and what isn’t.
With that said, throughout the history of mankind, it’s hard to say society hasn’t developed an impression of what beauty should look like. I mean, this is why we have billboards, and models, and fashion magazines.
When most people think of beauty – or a face to apply to the word, at any rate – I’ll bet they think of Marilyn Monroe, before anyone else.
One step further, when people think of Marilyn Monroe, I’d also bet they think of her blonde hair, before all else.
Monroe’s iconic platinum blonde locks blazed the trail for “blonde bombshells.”
While I’m sure blonde hair has always been an object of attraction for men, after Monroe’s rise to fame in the early 50s, it became a staple of beauty.
And, then, the clichés began to pop up – blonde is beautiful; blonde is better; blondes have more fun – and, suddenly, we found this notion of blonde superiority being pushed to the forefront of popular perception.
Personally, I’ve always been a brunette guy. Not to say there’s anything wrong with blondes -- I mean, I’d happily settle down with Kate Moss, don’t get me wrong.
Having said that, for me, there’s just something about the whole dark hair, dark skin, combination that can’t be touched.
At the same time, I also recognize most mainstream ideals prefer otherwise. It’s common knowledge that most men prefer blondes, right?
Well, after coming across a recent study, it appears science provides evidence – despite popular belief – men might actually favor brunettes.
According to Deborah Arthurs for Daily Mail, men find women with darker hair more sexually attractive.
Based on a poll conducted by social networking website Badoo, in a survey of 2,000 men, more than 60 percent of men reported they prefer “raven-haired” women.
As shown by the data, around one-third of the men polled claimed to find brown hair the most attractive; whereas, a little under 29 percent of men favored women with black hair.
Not to cast shade on the red-headed women out there; it is important to note almost 9 percent of men expressed their preference toward redheads.
A separate study, conducted by Viren Swami and Seishin Berrett, could provide further information on the topic.
According to their research, which consisted of two different studies, men’s preference regarding blonde or brunette women is a more complex matter than you might have thought.
The first study employed a female test subject who sat in nightclubs over the course of a few weeks.
Throughout the experiment, she changed her hair color three times – blonde, brunette, red – while the experimenters “observed and counted how many men approached her during a one-hour period.”
Results showed she was approached most frequently under the blonde hair condition. Compared to the 42 men who approached her while brunette, 60 men expressed interest in her while blonde.
After simply comparing these two statistics, and applying a little bit of common sense, one would assume men found her more attractive while blonde; however, that might not be the case.
According to the second experiment conducted by Swami and Berrett, when showed a picture of the same women with different hair colors, men reported they found the brunette version more beautiful.
This presents a question: If men find brunettes to be more attractive, why did they approach the blonde women more frequently at the bar?
Swami and Berrett went on to propose the theory that men find blonde women to be more needy.
Thus, they were more approachable in public situations, “possibly because it induced greater feelings of dominance or conﬁdence in [the men], which in turn reduced their inhibition,” as told by Dr. Raj Persaud and Adrian Furnham for HuffPost Lifestyle.
One possible reason for this divergence from popular belief comes from a shift in modern ideology. Over the past half a century or so, the role of woman has evolved greatly, and rightly so.
According to Maxine Frith of The Independent, historically speaking, blonde hair has always been viewed as a “symbol of youth that was attractive to men.”
As women have taken on a larger role in society – since, say, the 1950s when Monroe’s blonde hair reigned supreme – the male scope of beauty has taken on different forms.
According to research done by the City University of London, and the reported data of 1,500 males included in the study, 81 percent of men described the brunette as “intelligent,” while 67 percent purported she appeared “self-sufficient,” when asked to give their impressions of her personality.
"They are looking for more intense, equal partnerships and appearance has a large role to play,” noted Peter Ayton, the man who led the study. “It is even possible certain hair colours can indicate wealth and experience.”
The idea of blondness being linked to youthfulness was explored further in a study examining Polish samples.
Dr. Piotr Sorokowski set up an experimental study exploring male hair color preference. The results of his research showed males did, generally, rate pictures of blonde hair as “more youthful,” and also maintained a preference for these women with regard to overall attractiveness.
This provides reason to believe preference in hair color will vary by location, as the experimental data mentioned earlier (reported by Daily Mail and The Independent) was UK-based.