I was born with blonde hair and blue eyes. The blue eyes quickly darkened to brown, but I held on to my blonde hair until I was around 3 or 4. I am 2 1/2 in the picture below.
Since then, I have always self-identified as having brown hair. Light brown hair, if pressed to be specific. But really, it depends on how much sun my hair has been exposed to. In winter, I have solidly brown hair. In the summer, light brown with some lighter streaks.
That is, until I moved to Chile. Now, I am blonde. Rubia, in Spanish. I have been described as such hundreds of times. Yes, my hair is lighter than the average Chilean who doesn’t take a bottle of peroxide to their hair every month. But blonde?
Yep, blonde. Confirmed this morning by a creepy man waiting for the bus as I walked through Plaza Italia. As he banged some empty soda bottles against the bus stop, he sang: Mira la rubiecita linda como camina la rubiecita linda (Look at the cute blondie look at how the cute blondie walks).
I posted about the singing man on my Facebook this morning and some discussion ensued. Some said hair color is a euphemism for skin color. I am pasty pale, but that doesn’t change my hair color! Most of the rest of the conversation centered on Eileen, who has dark hair and white skin, as to whether anyone would call her morenita (answer: no) which is what Chileans call people with a darker complexion and dark hair.
It doesn’t bother me per se that people call me blonde here; being blonde is a quality that a lot of Chileans strive for, as it is considered a beauty ideal. So really, every time someone calls me blonde, they are paying me a small compliment.
However, I do find it inaccurate. According to Wikipedia (obviously the expert on everything) I have pelo castaño. I’ve never heard a Chilean use that term though. Maybe I should start to bring it back.
Next time some creepy guy starts singing me a song, I’ll have to correct him: Mira la casteñita linda como camina la casteñita linda.