Britney Spears: Still Going Strong (and Still a Blonde)

It’s clear that Britney Spears is as popular as ever with thousands of fans flocking to see her concert last night at TD Garden. What’s astonishing is that it’s been 13 years since her debut Hit Me Baby One More Time, yet the siren can still charge an eye-popping $150 per ticket.

Like many female idols, Spears has reinvented herself to endure changes and stay relevant in the industry. Perhaps her most obvious reinvention came early in her career: her shift from au naturel brunette to blonde, just as she exploded from up-and-coming pop star to superstar. Given Britney’s preference for peroxide, I can’t help but wonder: Why are blondes so frequently the sexual dream?

The answer isn’t easy to unpick. Evolutionary theorists have claimed that natural blond hair is rarer than dark and might also signify youth and fitness, thus natural selection would present a bias toward blondness. Then again, academics in the field of cultural studies blame shared, often unconscious biases — Maureen Turim has called our obsession with blondness the “sexual ideal of a racist society.”

But whichever theory you adopt, stereotypes do change. In fact, the rise of free porn sites like YouPorn, which feature home movies uploaded by viewers, might begin to trigger a shift in favor of brunettes, red-heads, baldies, whatever the cases may be. Amateur porn can offer a rich array of real and natural colorings and bodies, and though vids often list “blond” as a selling point, variety is certainly a feature. Now that porn is in the hands of its consumers, it no longer needs a blond front and center — for proof, just look at another megastar, Kim Kardashian.

Spears, known first for her schoolgirl pigtails but later for her risque attire and lyrics, certainly draws her popularity from the imagery of porn — now more so than ever. As she continues as a cultural icon, I, for one, will be watching her coiffure.