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*BLACK BLONDES AND BLONDE WEAVE HAIRSTYLES, ACCORDING TO GOOGLE SEARCH

50

The number of people worldwide who Google the phrase, “African American blonde” each month.

3,600

The number of people worldwide who Google the phrase, “Blonde weave” each month.

2,400

The number of people worldwide who Google the phrase, “Black people with blonde hair” each month.

*All figures for “Black Blondes And Blonde Weave Hairstyles, According to Google Search”, supplied by Google. Stats include global totals for laptop and desktop computers and mobile devices.

African American Women In History: Black Girls With Blonde Hair - From The 1950s To Now

BLACK AND BLONDE: Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé are two of music's most prominent black women who sport dyed blonde hair and weaves. African American girls with blonde hair is not new — the practice dates back to the early models and singers of the 1950s.

BLONDE HAIR HAS BECOME THE HOTTEST look for black women celebrities. But far from being new, the color has a long history amongst African American females. By Ben Arogundade.

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THERE ARE FEW MORE striking aesthetic contrasts than blonde hair on black skin. Until recently, it was believed that people of African heritage who possessed naturally blonde hair had acquired it as the result of having European ancestry. But new evidence uncovered by researcher Carlos Bustamante and a team from Stanford University suggests that in some black people, natural blonde hair occurs separately from Caucasian genes.

BLACK WOMEN BLONDE HAIR
In 2012 they analysed DNA samples from the indigenous Solomon Islanders of the South Pacific, who typically have some of the darkest skin pigments outside of Africa, and where up to 10 per cent of the population possess naturally blonde curly hair — the highest proportion outside Europe. Bustamante and his team analysed a series of saliva samples from 43 blonde and 42 dark-haired Solomon Islanders. They discovered a gene called TYPR1 that only occurred in the blonde-haired individuals. Crucially, this gene is distinct from the one that produces blonde hair in Europeans. It is thought to have cropped up around 10,000 years ago, and is likely to be the same gene that accounts for blonde hair amongst the Fijian population and other peoples within the South Pacific region.

“Before this, everybody would have thought blonde hair evolved once in humans,” said Bustamante. “This tells us we can’t really assume that even these common mutations are common across different human populations. Non-European populations are critical to study to find mutations that may be underlying the vast phenotypic variation of humans.”

BLONDE HAIR DYES AND WEAVE HAIRSTYLES
Alongside nature’s black blondes, historical fashion and hair and beauty trends have played a major part in creating the desire amongst dark-haired people to become artificially blonde. 1950s Hollywood was the era in which the blonde came to epitomise Western beauty values, through actresses such as Brigitte Bardot and Marilyn Monroe. Also, the invention of Lady Clairol in 1956 was revolutionary, as it meant that women could dye their hair blonde at home. Although none of this culture was aimed at African American women, they too were affected by blonde ambition. Singers Joyce Bryant and Dinah Washington — the Rihanna and Beyoncé of their day — were early adopters of dyed blonde hair, as was the late Dorothea Towles, a fashion model who went platinum in Paris as early as 1952. “I stopped traffic,” she recalled. The 1990s saw a second wave of black blondes such as Lil’ Kim, Ru Paul and Mary J Blige, only by this time weave hairstyles had been invented, making for greater versatility in styling.

THE MODERN BLACK BLONDE GIRL
Black blondes live on in the 21st century, lead by three of music’s biggest stars — Nicki Minaj, Beyoncé and Rihanna. The weaves have become more elaborate, colourful and outlandish, and these stars have almost singlehandedly expanded its creative possibilities in their push for distinctiveness within the image hungry arena of pop. Ultimately, their hair may be fake, but their desire to be blonde is real.

BLACK BEAUTY by Ben Arogundade is out now.

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BLACK BLONDES IN HISTORY: Since the 1950s, black and African American singers and models have dyed their hair blonde or worn blonde wigs and weaves. Above; 60s model Dorothea Towles makes the November 1959 cover of African American magazine Sepia. Middle; A blonde Rihanna makes the November 2011 cover of British Vogue.

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NATURAL BLONDE: amongst the people of the Solomon Islands blonde hair is not the result of European genes, as previously thought, but actually developed independently, 10,000 years ago.

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BEAUTY HISTORY & CULTURE

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