what’s the deal with greece’s blondes anyway?

Asi Biliou

As my friends and family have observed many times, Greek women are dying their hair blonde in ever-increasing numbers. I wish I could find statistics on it. The best evidence I can come up with is assessing the number of TV talk show hostesses who are fake blondes — and I must say, it’s pretty hard to come up with a brunette (pictures provided, left and below). Certainly more women are dying their hair blonde in Greece than in the US, or maybe I just notice it here more because blonde hair looks really unnatural on Greeks.

The only theory I’ve heard on this is that Greek women started dying their hair blonde because they began having to compete with foreign, blonde women for male attention. That might be true. Who knows. What definitely seems true is that Greek women started turning themselves into blondes once Greece started becoming more exposed to other Western media.

It’s also true that blondes get more attention here (and anywhere else where it is the minority hair color). I have a friend who gets twice the attention when she dyes her hair blonde. Greek culture is predicated on receiving attention and external validation from others all the time. I think this may also be why the blonde talk show hosts wear such heavy, obvious makeup. There is a lot of emphasis here not only on having the right clothes and lifestyle, but on showing it to the world, making sure the world knows you are there. You must be social.

“You’re a nice girl,” a Greek cab driver once told me. “You’re Greek, you’re social.” As if that was all the justification needed. Contrastively, I’ve been looked at funny for reading in the presence of other people and have been called a bore for not being outgoing.

If you really want to fit in to Greek culture then, blonde is the hair color of choice. The problem with it is that it comes with all these contradictions of Greek identity. Greeks like it when people are Greeks, and they like Greek Identity with a capital ‘I’. But if you ask Greeks, they’ll describe the classic Greek woman as brunette. For example, Maria Tsagaraki, the runner-up for Star Hellas, has been described as more representative of traditional ‘Greek’ beauty than Anna Prelevic, the winner (who, of course, is half Serbian, which brought on its own controversy).

Then there is the Greek show Beat the Blondes in which a contestant wins money for each blonde who loses a question he gets right. One terribly translated description of the show reads:

A format based on preconceptions and prejudice, BEAT THE BLONDES is a game of strategy where the contestant has to use his intuition to figure out what he knows and what the Blondes don’t. But will the contestant only judge the Blondes by their appearance? Or can the Blondes double-bluff him and win some cash for themselves?

As promised, here is a quick selection of TV hostesses from the Alpha channel. I could provide more photos if necessary. Notice that they aren’t just blonde, but white blonde.

Natalia Germanou

Eleni Menegaki

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