August 30 2014

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Free Speech: Hadley Freeman On Scarlett’s Dye Job


So I’ve been thinking a lot about hair this week. Scarlett Johansson‘s hair, to be precise. And to be even more precise, what I’ve been thinking is, WTF? Really, Scarlett, what on earth were you thinking going brunette on us out of nowhere like that? I tell you what I like to think: Even she was feeling a little cowed by the collective gorgeousness of her current co-stars Penélope Cruz and Rebecca Hall (and possibly Javier Bardem), so she
made the error that many others have made before her of trying—to use magazine parlance—to “get the look” of her celebrity icons. And, as tends to happen when one tries to get someone else’s look, particularly Penélope Cruz’s look, it doesn’t really fly. Yes, of course, Scarlett is a very lovely lady, and even Scarlett with fake brown hair looks a lot better than me with real brown hair. But that is a separate issue. Scarlett, I’m here to help you. For a start, I’m not the most massive fan of altering one’s natural hair color anyway. There is a reason God gave you that hair and the reason is because it goes with your natural coloring. Brown hair may be seen as the somewhat boring, even mousy shade on the tonsorial spectrum, but when accessorized with a certain kind of weaponry—namely, olive skin and big, liquid brown eyes—it is downright heavenly. And Scarlett, your coloring and features are definitely more Veronica Lake than Penélope Cruz and, honey, that ain’t necessarily a criticism. I’m really struggling to think of some examples that disprove my theory that altering one’s hair color is a bad idea. I can, however, think of quite a few examples that confirm it. Mariacarla Boscono‘s brief dalliance away from her dark brown hair to platinum blond was, I think we can all agree, a bit of an error. Ditto for any Sex and the City season where Sarah Jessica Parker went inexplicably too blond or too dark. The road of overenthusiastic and ultimately misguided dye jobs is littered with victims.

But there is another factor going on here that I fear young Scarlett has overlooked, too. When one is a blonde, people react to you in a certain way. Namely, they snap to attention. Obviously, I don’t know this from personal experience, merely from personal observation. When one is a brunette, one has to get used to being what I call (and I don’t necessarily mean this euphemistically) more of a slow burner. Oh, don’t you worry, my brown-haired compadre. People will notice you eventually. And when they do, good Lord, they’ll be mystified by how they ever missed you in the first place. Johansson, I’m thinking, isn’t used to being overlooked by anyone, ever, and this may explain her somewhat lackluster appearance when she first showed her newly brown hair to the public at the premiere of He’s Just Not That Into You. (Although, equally, that may be because her new coloring, as we discussed, doesn’t suit it. Or it may be because she was about to sit through the totally whack He’s Just Not That Into You.) So what I’m really saying is, I’m just not convinced that Scarlett is ready for the emotional ramifications that come with being a brunette. It takes inner steel that requires years of being ignored at summer camp to build up. Scarlett, honey, for your sake alone, stop hitting the bottle.



  1. SeasonfiveStyle says:

    Isn’t she a natural brunette? I prefer her as a blond – but I’d take her bad brunette day any day of the week. The woman is GORGEOUS.

  2. ivy41270 says:

    “There is a reason God gave you that hair and the reason is because it goes with your natural coloring.”

    I disagree with that statement. My natural light ashy brown does *not* go with my natural coloring. I am much happier with a richer, darker brown. And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone on that opinion.

  3. pescher says:

    you know I was too very bored about shes turning brunette, but than I realized that the big issue for me, was her hair cut!Actually the lack of one. I really think if she did something different whould be very nice. And if at that premiere she had done a cool hair do,she would be very pretty.

  4. FrancoiseZooey says:

    Scarlett isn’t naturally blonde, at least not the shade we usually see. And I think the brown would look better if the hair was styled differently.

Dept. of Culture