Cavemen prefer blondes

There’s a fascinating Independent article today (best be quick before it becomes pay-only content) on the evolutionary causes of blonde hair. I always thought that the lighter hair colours would be something to do with uptake of sunlight, much like skin colour, but it seems that’s not the case. Researchers think that sexual selection in times of food scarcity resulted in blonde-hair genes spreading due to their increased appeal to men. I’m not sure whether this appeal is attributed to the colour itself, or just being different from others.

Hair’s interesting. The classic image of stereotypical male fantasy has long blonde hair. Why long? Steven Pinker, in How the Mind Works, says:

Luxuriant hair is always pleasing, possibly because it shows not only current health but a record of health in the years before. Malnutrition and disease weaken the hair as it grows from the scalp, leaving a fragile spot in the shaft. Long hair implies a long history of good health.

Explains why we all care so much about which shampoo we use 🙂

Happily, times change. I’ve generally always been more attracted to brunettes, and I wonder whether that’s because most of my relatives have darker hair colours. It would make sense that genes that control hair colour would generally co-exist with genes that cause attraction to said colour, right? Do people from predominantly blonde families prefer blondes?

The Independent article also contains this paragraph:

Experts said that as relations between men and women have evolved, men may have become more attracted by brains, represented in their psyche by brunettes, than the more physical charms of blond hair.

Look, I didn’t say it. I put that in mainly to annoy Lynsey 🙂