Blonde ambition [OPRAH: Jan 2014]

Carla Calitz loved being a blonde – right up until she didn’t.

In grade 7, I coveted my youngest sister’s flaxen hair – she was the blue-eyed, golden-locked child adored by all her peers (most particularly, the boys), while I was the brown-haired, cow-eyed geek with no social clout whatsoever at school. My envy knew no bounds when it came to ballet concerts, either, where all the blonde-haloed girls curled their hair into impossibly beautiful ringlets, while my lanky strands slipped out of their hopeful bonds as soon as the pink curlers were strong-armed out of my hair (not even bulletproof 1980s hairspray could solidify them).

My first year in high school saw me trying desperately to “fit in” with a disastrous poodle perm – and a bubble fringe to boot – but my Mom refused to pay for highlights and I wasn’t going to argue, considering we lived on a journalist’s salary.

Then came the heady days of university and the urge to throw off my nerdy roots and em- brace a golden age of wild abandon. So began my love-hate affair with home dyeing kits and hydrogen peroxide. Almost overnight, my social life was transformed – this probably due to my new-found confidence channelling the effervescent, irrepressible personality of “a blonde.” Suddenly, I became a “party animal” – varsity was where I’d expand not my mind, but my social calendar, I decided.

I started navigating that popular mantra, “gentlemen prefer blondes,” although the behaviour of these highly visual, ungainly creatures couldn’t have been classified as courteous, let alone chivalrous. A case in point was when I decided to streak my bottle-blonde locks with purple dye, and groups of conservative male students, taking exception to my hair, displayed their disdain at my perceived otherness by tugging on it and insulting me. Instead, I found acceptance on the dance floors of the rave era, much to my parents’ alarm and dismay.

Read full article: OPRAH Blonde Ambition

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Oprah Hair cover
Oprah South Africa Hair issue [features editor at time]
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