Witness the Surprising History of Blond Hair

Prehistoric Times-
The genetic mutation that's linked to blond hair only popped up about 11,000 years ago, spreading from modern-day Lithuania out across Scandinavia and the rest of northern Europe ... more 
Prehistoric Times-
The genetic mutation that's linked to blond hair only popped up about 11,000 years ago, spreading from modern-day Lithuania out across Scandinavia and the rest of northern Europe rapidly.

There are a couple of competing theories about why this happened. Some scientists believe that lighter hair, like lighter skin, allows for more effective vitamin D manufacturing, which was extremely important for maintaining health in the chilly, dark northern Europe of the last Ice Age.

The other school of thought holds that blondes evolved simply because the color was novel and interesting, so in a time when there were very few men compared to women, men were more likely to select blond mates, leading blond women to reproduce much more often.

Related: Study Finds Blondes Make $900 More a Year

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Thu, Oct 6, 2011 4:07 PM EDT
Source: Witness the Surprising History of Blond Hair

Blond hair has only been around for 11,000 years or so, but in that (evolutionarily) short time it's made quite a mark on human culture. Especially in the West, where the highest concentration of flaxen-haired individuals sprang up. (Fun fact: there are also sizable blond populations in Oceania and the Pacific Islands.)

But since blondes began, the hair color has been interpreted in lots of different ways - from virtuous and pure to downright skanky - and every culture has its own norms when it comes to light hair. It's a fascinating case study in the ways something as simple as hair color can have an enormous amount of cultural import. Check out this history of tow-headedness for fascinating facts and cool insights about what it means to be a Betty instead of a Veronica.


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