Katie Chriscoe reporting for the Researcher
Dumb blondes are the butt of many jokes in our modern society, and mostly no harm is meant. However, being a natural blonde myself, I often take offense when my peers antic on about dumb blonde moments. I get so anxiously confused about why an entire group of girls with the blonde hair color have been constantly mocked. I had to start asking myself the question: how could hair color possibly contribute to one’s intelligence? Let’s start at the beginning with the original dumb blonde.
Rosalie Duthe lived in France as a trained ballet dancer in the 18th century. She was famous for, not just her dancing, but as a favorite escort of French royals and fashionable circles. Fairhaired Duthe was not unlike the blonde Kim Kardashian for her day, known for being beautiful, charming, and slowwitted. Duthe was born to win the hearts of many, become the talk of many, and be mocked by many. Her laugh was specifically charming and beautiful, many said.
How did this graceful ballet dancer become the first dumb blonde? Rosalie started the dumb blonde meme with something that she did often as a dancing performer. When the aristocrat had to articulate lines on stage, she was famous for taking very long pauses in between them. This certainly made an impression on audiences, and perhaps she aimed for a dramatic effect. Whatever Rosalie thought she was conveying, many saw this as a sign of stupidity. They thought that Duthe was forgetting her lines, or that her mind just wasn’t in the right place.
The topic of many’s gossip, Rosalie was popular among boys. Her best catch was possibly Louis XVI’s brother, the Comte d'Artois. The affair was short and sweet. The Comte was slightly younger than Rosalie, and married. And of course, she was not his only fling. The affair heated up sometime in 1775, and Rosalie received gifts and surprises from her generous Comte. He "gave her a house in the Chaussée d'Antin," and even had the court painter Spaendonck hired to paint her boudoir. Her new place, lavishly decorated, had cost the Comte three months and 80,000 pounds; all well spent on his pretty friend.
All of this new sparkle in Rosalie’s life led to her going around town and boasting her wealth to others. She called herself a sylph and her motto was: l'arc et le carquois de l'Amour. Her acting career continued but she was becoming such a topic among gossips, she was soon the main character of a one act play. The play, debuting in Paris, while she was in residence, satirized Rosalie and her stage performances (the long pauses....the silence...etc). It was called Les Curiosities de la Foire (Curiosities of the Fair).
Three years prior to the Revolution she moved to England living off the generous sums she acquired from her French suitors. When the Revolution began her property in France was confiscated. Around this time in 1792, she sat for a painting where she posed as she had seen a woman do in another painting she owned. The artist, Danloux, chose to place her against a blue background, to him it was the color of blonds. He found the piece "very handsome, and above all a good likeness of the sitter."
What can we take away from all of this? First of all, the original dumb blonde, Rosalie Duthe of France, had a great life that quickly backfired. And, yes, an entire slew of memes was created because of her life, but at what cost? Did we, as a society, really base an opinion of hair color on one woman? Whether this is right or wrong, it happened, and Rosalie Duthe will live on forever as the world’s first dumb blonde.