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Claim: A study undertaken by the World Health Organization concluded that natural blondes are likely to be extinct within
Origins: Some factoids are just too intriguing, their hold on our imaginations too tenacious, for us to let go of
A study by the World Health Organisation found that natural blonds are likely to be extinct withinAs factoids go, this one is generally accompanied by a fair amount of detail, such as:
The World Health Organization says there is no suchWhere did the "blonde extinction" idea originate? Normally we'd be tempted to chalk it up to the work of an anonymous prankster, or expect to find it began as yet another Weekly World News story that made the jump from a supermarket tabloid to the mainstream news media, but we were surprised to discover the notion of blondes' being completely supplanted by brunettes has been bouncing around for a very long time. For starters, we learned that in 1961 a number of newspapers reported a similar study predicting blondes might be disappearing from most parts of the world within 50 to
"We've certainly never conducted any research into the subject," WHO spokeswoman Rebecca Harding said from Geneva. "It's been impossible to find out where it came from. It just seems like it was a hoax."
The health group traced the story to an account on a German wire service, which in turn was based on a two-year-old article in the German women's magazine Allegra, which cited a WHO anthropologist. Harding could find no record of such a man working for the WHO.
Harding says the WHO made no attempt to contact the news outlets that went with the bogus report but decided to issue a news release yesterday.
"Honestly, we have better things to spend our time on," she said.
Blondes Are in Global Fade-OutGoing back even further, we find the same concept being expressed in 1906, with this example anticipating the demise of blondes within the next
Blondes — real and bottled — are disappearing on a worldwide scale at increasingly rapid rates, according to a scientific study made in France.
Natural blondes, the kind gentlemen prefer most, may be extinct in
Though nobody knows why, the International Committee for Demographic Studies, which made the study, believes the trend is related to Darwin's "survival of the fittest" law. Blondes are believed to be more fragile than brunettes who are better able to adjust to climatic and other environmental changes.
Even Sweden, the world's blondest country, has had a drop in the proportion of blondes to brunettes of nearly
The decline of the natural blonde has been paralleled by the "evaporation" of girls with bottled yellow tresses. Several years ago one in three French girls was a peroxide blonde. Today the proportion is closer to one in six.
Stylists, noting a trend toward coloring the hair in dark shades, say western women are entering a "brunette cycle" certain to last a decade or more.
BLONDES DOOMED TO VANISH FROM EARTHBacking up further still, we find evidence that the possible extinction of blondes was a subject of discussion in the 19th century as well, with this 1890 article anticipating their downfall due to a stronger male preference for brunettes as matrimonial partners:
Major Woodruff Sounds Their Deathknell — It's Science.
The girl with the golden tresses is doomed, and within six hundred years blondes will be extinct. The fate of the blonde was foretold today by
The major said the blondes were on the toboggan and were scheduled to disappear in six centuries. The gallant major said her peroxide sister might endure, but the real twenty-two karat blonde would be only known in history in future ages.
Major Woodruff said science might discover some method of controlling the color of hair.
THE BLONDES DISAPPEARINGThis excerpt from an 1865 article approving of recent Parisian fashion changes favoring the blonde look dates rumors concerning the extinction of the fair-haired to at least as far back as the American Civil War:
Condition of Affairs the Government Should Investigate
Blondes are said to be disappearing both in Engand and America, says the Illustrated American. Persons who can look back half a century unite in declaring that there is a marked change in this respect.
For every red-haired person seen now, 10 could have been met with
In New York a reporter recently made an interesting experiment which any one who doubts it may repeat. In the course of
He passed only 13 women of the pronounced blonde type. Three of these had red hair, and the hair of two had apparently been bleached. At the theatre the same evening he scrutinized
They sat surrounded by a bevy of dark women, who gave its prevailing tone to the complexion of the house. The public schools yielded a similar result. One class of
Another observer hazards the statement that not more than
"Go anywhere where pretty girls congregate, and you meet tall, striking-looking figures with dark hair and big, dark eyes. The blondes are disappearing. And why?"
Science steps in with an explanation. Dr. Beddoes of the British Royal Infirmary in London declares that after examining the hair of nearly 1000 young women who came before his notice, he has arrived at the conclusion that in matrimony the brunette was preferred over the blonde in the ratio of three to two, and so, gradually but surely, through the selection of dark women for wives and through the hereditary transmission of brunette traits, the blondes become extinct.
GOLDEN HAIRNo matter how old and ingrained this extinction belief may be, however, blondes and blonde-lovers probably need not fear the imminent demise of natural blondeness. Most scientists asked to comment on the faux study in recent years have opined that although the proportion of blondes in the population might decrease a bit in coming years, it likely won't drop to nothing any time in the foreseeable future.
Not long ago, the admirers of blue eyes and fair hair were disgusted by certain wise men announcing that the blonde was becoming rapidly extinct, failing to hold her own even in her native North. Let them take heart and rejoice, and laugh to scorn the evil prophecies of Darwinian doctrinaires. Fashion, in Paris, has determined to thwart the disciples of the new school, and set natural selection at defiance, and the fiat has gone forth that the blonde is the true type of beauty, and golden your only hair. Amber-colored locks are literally worth their weight in gold, and all the hair-markets of Europe are being ransacked to enable Parisian belles to witch mankind with beauty not their own, except by right of purchase.
Last updated: 8 March 2006
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