The Curse of Being Brunette



I know I’ve got two brilliant covers of Game of Thrones up there, and I promise I’ll get to the book later in the post, but first of all I want to make reference to another book I’m reading right now, and how it relates to the subject matter I’m wanting to discuss with you all.

The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley, is one of those pensive, magical reads that really makes a girl think. I am loving the book so far, but I must admit, something has been gnawing at my bones and its been growing for a while now. Or not my bones, rather. More my hair follicles…

If you want the God’s-honest truth, my brunette strands are spitting like Medusa’s snakes.

Allow me to explain. Zimmer Bradley does such a bang-up job of portraying Morgaine’s side of the story in The Mists of Avalon and the glorious legend of Camelot and King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (et cetera, et cetera) that I am actually hating on Guinevere (or “Gwenhwyfar” as the book spells it). Hating on her for her ‘fair locks’, just like Morgaine is, because Lancelot wouldn’t both looking at dark, ugly things while these pale golden beauties are around…

Is it just me, or are we taking a step back into Disney fairyland here, where Rapunzels and Cinderellas and Goldilocks’ are the orders of the day for romantic heroine stereotypes, and the witches are all black-haired? Just to clarify, I’m only talking about hair here, regardless of skin colour. Not to say that that isn’t a worthy argument – but you can research the whole idea behind Disney’s film The Princess and the Frog, or the furore of Justine Larbeister’s US cover of Liar, in your own time. For the moment, I’m just focusing on the colour of hair. And I’m pretty sure that even in Arthur and Lancelot and Merlin’s time there would have been a bevy of brown-haired British-Anglo beauties to portray alongside the piety of the fair Gwenhwyfar.

Which brings me to Game of Thrones. We see much of the same issue here. Sadhbh has already made a wonderfully comprehensive commentary on this ridiculous review of Episode 1 of  the TV series Game of Thrones which I refuse to pay any attention to – except to say that even my favourite character of the series, Daenerys Targaryen, irks me, all because of her beautiful white-blonde hair. Visually-stunning golden twin Queen Cersei Lannister does nothing to help the cause. I can only hope Arya Stark can do an about-face and quit the raven-haired rebel stereotype (but I do secretly think she’s pretty wonderful no matter the hair colour).

I’m suffering a serious case of character hair-envy, no doubt about it. But seriously, if we can just find an Elizabeth Taylor type (just one) to combat all those Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly types in fantasy literature, then I may find some peace.

What do you think? Are brunettes given a bad rap in fantasy literature? Are there raven-haired heroines out there who don’t conform to the stereotype of rebellious, cold-hearted creatures?

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Aimee Burton

Aimee Burton is a lawyer-in-training who still dreams of befriending unicorns. This blog will be her escape from reality, and hopefully it'll inspire her to finish writing that fantasy trilogy she's always promising her friends is "almost halfway" done.