Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I is for Indecently Blonde . . .

Blame the Romans. Cowed 
by Celtic women's indecent strength, 
their innards curled to ice; they required
prostitutes to wear blonde wigs 
near two millenia ago. 
Roman women rejoiced
when the Celts were ousted;
insults ended imitation.

Yet we women still color our hair.
In my twenties, I favored Hollywood blonde,
like my Swedish mother,  
and applied for work at a bank. 
The men swarmed out of their offices
on invented errands; I was hired
and then ignored as ash blonde
tangled with illicit brown roots.
Now I would not change a single
gray hair; I've earned them all.

Marion Henry (1941)
My mother, a Hollywood starlet

Today's poetry prompt (Day 10 and the letter "I") came from a visit to 2nd Look Books here in Spokane. Michael showed me a page from Terry Jones' Barbarians which retold how the Romans admired and feared Celtic, Germanic and Viking women for their strength, their fearsome pale beauty, and their furious tempers. Luckily I inherited none of these traits, but I was intrigued by what causes women particularly to assume a mask of protective coloring, something I once did. 

To celebrate National Poetry Month, read what others have written:
NaPoWriMo at
A-Z Challenge at
A Round of Words in 80 Days at


  1. Ooops, somehow I accidentally deleted my comment. Silly me!

    This poem is lovely :) I too was once blonde, but am now a loud and proud purple. It's all natural I swear ;p

  2. Lovely poem, I'm afraid I do use colour to cover up the grey and tried various attempts at Henna colouring in my youth.

  3. Jodie: Thanks for persevering! Congratulations on the 'natural' purple. I admire your courage. In some ways, purple is a statement about being essentially yourself, free of societal expectations -- and proud! Despite my ambivalence, I may yet join you!

    Sally: Where's that gray? Your hair looks lovely. Despite my poem, why shouldn't we color our hair if we want to?

  4. What a beautiful picture. The poem is awesome.

    I used blonde highlights to cover my gray. I got my first gray hair at 29. One day I decided to embrace it, I have the silvery gray hair. It's kind of pretty? When my daughter was getting married I offered to color it so her mama didn't look like her grandma. She thought me silly. Reminded me I WAS a grandma and to get over it. Boy am I ever happy she did.

  5. Hello, Beth! What a wonderful poem to celebrate National Poetry Month and for the A to Z Challenge. Your mother was beautiful. She looks like there's something only she knows and we don't!

    Happy A to Z-ing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

  6. I was immediately intrigued by your title - Indecently Blonde! That may even turn into a prompt for me to write about. (My gut reaction to the word "indecently" is driving my reaction - LOL.)

    The poem is lovely and an interesting study on why women color their hair. I've been every color from a natural ash blonde of childhood to "indecently" blonde in my late teens/early twenties to nearly black for a role in a play to my current shade of white/gray. I've talked to my stylist about color over the last year, but he refuses to take my money for color. He insists there are women who pay him to have the color I have now! Funny how we always seem to want what we don't have! Lately, I've been pondering shades of pink or purple! Who knows?

    Congrats on such a provocative image in your poem!

  7. I love your poetry! More please ...
    Happy Ato Z-ing
    Jemima at Jemima's blog

  8. Beautifully written. I'm still wrestling with my earned gray..... it's a loosing battle.
    Peanut Butter and Whine