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legally blonde & stereotypes

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Why am I watching Legally Blonde again? Yes, yes, I have to admit, I sort of like it, but there is something else going on here and I suppose that takes me to a deeper level, therefore defeating the purpose of my resting but nevermind.

It seems that whenever I am sick with a cold or a flu just generally not feeling well, I pull out the bad movies, or not bad, just not high-brow, I guess, and that sounds snotty because it is, because sad to say that too many of the films that I watch and the books that I read are more literary (read: snotty, at times). But one must relax every now and then and develop a good and healthy sense of humor and as a partial blonde (mostly prematurely grey and now aided with highlights; I started graying at age sixteen) I suppose I sort of relate to Elle Woods because all my life people took darker haired people more seriously and while this may be a small form of prejudice, it’s by no means where this article stops. I’ve even dyed my naturally light auburn hair dark in order to be taken more seriously, yet nobody judges me for that. Why is it that high-lights or blonding decreases intellect, but darker shades seem to equally increase intellect?

For me, coming from a family of blondes and ginger –headed and freckled individuals , I was always very sensitive that my coloring gave away too much about who I was and where I am from. You could guess, pretty much, that I was not say from Tahiti or Vietnam or anywhere where people have darker hair and darker skin. You can tell easily that I’m Celtic and be it English or French or whatever, it doesn’t matter because Celtic is Celtic and when I was growing up, being Celtic meant you were shit. It meant you were plain and not exotic or interesting but just ordinary, a “spud digger”, digging potatoes out of the ground your whole life, and then getting old and fat and losing your teeth and living in a house that reeks of cabbage all the time. This is what I imagine. This is what others imagine, or what I imagine they imagine, I’m not sure which.

I hate that. I hate that there were Londoners who thought they were better than us because they lived in London proper and we lived in the outskirts and more, that my family was, oh no, from Scotland, so we were really poor-cousins and more. Any minority can speak to these feelings and whether it is recognized or not, I am , at least in this country, in the minority. I’m not really British because I’m Scottish and even though England claims Scotland it’s a bit like being from Northern Ireland and not feeling like you have ever had or ever will have a country of your own that you can call home.

I also have a funny, mid-Atlantic accent that I hate but what can you do. I’m not going to phony it up either more American or more British. It is what it is and by now, there is no doubt a bit of a Massachusetts brogue in there that I’m quite proud of really because if I can call anywhere home, it is likely somewhere like East Boston, where the people are blue collar as my family was, where the houses are triple-decker (I lived in one for years), where everyone knows everyone and everyone’s business and everyone looks out for you. I love the lack of pretense in East Boston, which is why now I still visit the old hood because it’s still home. There are times even now when I long for my $500 a month top-floor walk through apartment – huge and an entire floor with my old Italian landlady who lived downstairs and who taught me about life and let me know when my outfit was “slutty” as she would say (slutty, for the record, was anything above the knee, unless you were wearing it and with a man, in which case, you looked “nice.”

Poor Elle Woods, as Reese Witherspoon is called in Legally Blonde. She’s a nice girl, a blonde girl and if you pay attention to the opening shots of her sorority house, you can see the boxes of Clairol hair dye laying around. Whether she’s naturally blonde or not is irrelevant, just as it should be in life. IF she is blonde, and looks blonde then she is so. Likewise, if one wants to be brunette, then they are. Yet nobody ever points out that a brunette dyes her hair; why is that? what is that about? it’s an odd thing that we pick on a group of people for their hair color, but hey, why not, we oppressed thousand of people for years and years because of their skin color and really, it wasn’t that long ago that we decided hey, it’s okay to be black – somewhere around the 1860s or so – and after that, we still had to overcome the women’s right to vote, African American voting and where they could sit, and so on. So why not pick on blondes. Why not pick on any group. Hey, I once worked for a woman who was such a nut that she actually made fun of me not only for the way I speak ,but because I had cancer and somehow, this was humorous. This was suddenly the office joke, from what I’ve heard.

Of course, all of this shit is behind your back. Nobody says this stuff to your face unless they really want a beating because if someone approached me the way I’ve seen certain minorities approached, I’d be pretty damn pissed off and maybe even violent. I can’t say – I’m fortunate in that I have never had to endure such hardships. My hardships are of a different nature, though as I said, the very fact of someone making fun of me for being sick says it all right there.

Some people can be twisted and awful and will do anything to cut you down to size because of their own insecurities and their own issues.

People will find any route to your Achilles, to tell you you’re not enough, they will make you the Elle Woods of the world or the Sandy from Australia (if you’re watching Grease, then it’s Olivia Newton John). Remember junior high school or high school and the kid who was picked on or you were picked on and it all seemed so freaking arbitrary. I never understood how people chose who it was they would pick on. To me, it often seemed that the brightest and best were picked on more than any other group and I found that disgusting and disturbing and sad.

I remember this one girl, Mary, who was truly, truly the most beautiful girl I had ever seen, with naturally platinum hair, a gorgeous face, a body to match and a great personality and yes, she was poor and lived in a ramshackle house but so what. So had I and I knew where of she came. Yet other students picked on Mary.

It started with the girls, of course. The girls couldn’t stand how beautiful Mary was. May with no make-up, no hair dye, no curing tongs, no expensive hair cut or clothes, just poor, old Mary who grew up with her weirdo twin brother with whom I admit, she did seem a bit unnaturally close, but regardless, there was never any evidence of this, just a feeling. There were siblings who were sleeping together but I’ll leave out their names. We’ll call them Bill and Elizabeth. I knew Bill as a friend and his sister Eliza never liked me very much for reasons I just never understood, then one day he tells me that Eliza and he have had sex and that’s why she hates me so much because she’s jealous. He says it like it’s nothing, like it’s the thing to do.

It terrified me, and I still remember the last time I went to Bill’s house and saw Eliza sitting on the couch, beautiful and sad with her long, dark hair, the clear opposite of me, and looking up at me half wanting to be rescued and half wanting to rip me to shreds. Eliza, like Mary, was unpopular in school, though she too was beautiful. As for me, I was nice to both of them and never chose sides, though there was always pressure to chose, I kind of got away with anything because I worked for the local newspapers, both the school and the town, and I hung out with the so-called “smart” kids and we were a clique unto ourselves. This does not explain how it was that I came to be a baton twirler for our school or any of the other “out of type” things that I did. I was wanted by the popular kids, though I hung with them once and some creepy kid locked me in a closet and tried to feel me up – fucking monkey looking pervert. That was the end of that, and no matter that even the idiot captain of the football team wanted me, I didn’t want him. When I told him as much, he literally put his hands around my throat and tried to strangle me calling me a cock tease the whole time until I passed out and feel to the floor of his daddy’s yacht.

Life is weird, no doubt. But what we learn from Elle Woods is that it’s okay to break rank and break type. That no matter what type or class we into which we are put, we can always break out. Whether you’re dumb blonde, or a poor and blue collar Scot who is white trash, or our Mary who was labeled white trash because she was poor. I guess if you’re poor, you’re trash.

As for Bill and Eliza, they went off to Vassar together and as far as I know, went on sleeping together until one day, while on acid, Eliza threw herself off the roof of Vassar. When Bill found out (he was also tripping – I guess they had dropped together), he too threw himself off the roof. Ironically, both lived. Both lived to face another day of hell, which was each other in their case, or for Eliza, it was her own brother who made her life a living hell and who used me to play on her jealousy to make her believe that she wanted him, when really all she wanted was to be loved. I was used to sort of trick Eliza in to thinking that really, she wanted Bill.

So I’m running a fever and I’m rambling and I’m more than slightly delirious, and while I usually drag on and on and take tangents and side roads and the like, in this case at least, I have some good reason, which is that I feel just terrible and am expecting to her the word “Pneumonia” on Friday when I can maybe dig out of this snowstorm and enter the real world again, which would be super.

For now, I cheer for Elle Woods, I root for the underdog and I say break rank and I say that hair color or skin color has nothing to do with who we are or how we think or our iq level of any of that stuff and more, whether or not you have money has nothing to do with your honor, who you are as a person. All our lives we’ve seen other people be bullied or even been bullied ourselves, so then why is it, I have to ask, that when a person is singled out in a group, even on the internet, that they are shut out by other people in a gang or pack mentality. I hate to see people “flamed” on the Web, I hate to see people iced-out in any group, even if I’m in the group and am one of the so-called cool kids, I guess the bottom line is that I wouldn’t want to be part of that group any longer if part of the deal meant being superior to others and ganging up on them and being generally hostile and snippy and bitchy. So I’m in support of Elle Woods and saying No to bullying, No to discrimination, No to type-casting, No to prejudice, No and no and no.

At the end of the day, your ability to say No when it counts the most is vital to who you are and how you will be judged in the final hour.

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About Sadi Ranson-Polizzotti

  • http://blondfrombirth.org Carol E. Cox

    Reese is not Blonde and neither is Elle. They are both Brunettes with bleached hair. This is not irrelevent. In fact, the whole point of this feature-length hair-bleach commercial is to forcibly associate Blondes with Bleached Brunettes and if these skanks couldn’t assume the name Blonde this commercial would be called Legally Bleached Brunette.