Hair dye

Comments sections, they’re tricky things, right? Because while it’s wonderful to have discussion and lively debate, I suppose you always worry about things going too far. But then, as an editor, you wonder, “what’s the worst that could happen?” The worst is that one of your writers says “why didn’t Jews just dye their hair blonde to escape the Holocaust?”

Which… happened. I want to make sure this avoided my own difficulties with XOJane (I believe shame is a valuable emotion) so I read the comment one of their writers made over four or five times after some of our readers sent it in. Here is what it says:

with the slavery vs. holocaust debate, it’s a bit different, as it was ultimately based upon race vs. religion, as in, Blacks were enslaved for hundreds of years, because they were Black. They couldn’t change or alter the appearance so as to escape and fly under the radar. Jews were exteriminated (@peachgrenade’s words–not mine) for not being blonde + blue and because of their religion–the hair and the religion, they could change.

.Ah. Well, that’s certainly an inflammatory statement, but it’s not as though she’s saying they could dye their hair – OH WAIT:

Sooooo, people couldn’t dye their hair back then? Women were going peroxide blonde back in the early 1900s, so by the 1940s, hair dye was pretty common…

Often, as a child, I wondered about certain things, many of them having to do with planes. I wondered why planes did not come with parachutes rather than flotation devices. I also wondered why the trail of exhaust from planes could not be rainbow colored, because that would make the sky more fun. And I wondered why, when the holocaust happened, all the Jews did not just decide to become Episcopalian. And dye their hair!

I still am frankly very unclear on the first two. However, I turned ten and read a book (only one) and realized that if you had any Jewish grandparents, your dying your hair – or converting extremely quickly – would not save you from being classified as Jewish during the holocaust. There were many people in the concentration camps who barely identified as Jewish. Many were blonde! With blue eyes! Likewise, there were many who spoke Yiddish, and would have had a difficult time passing even had we been air dropping peroxide onto Berlin.

I just thought I would clear that up for anyone reading who thought that if Anne Frank had only had a bottle of Nice ‘n’ Easy she’d be alive today, because, no. No, no, no, no, no.