Define “dowdy”

Look at these two photos. Is the woman in the red dress hotter than the one in the blue dress? Or is the one in the blue dress simply not hot?

Or are they the same woman?

If you said C, give yourself an A. You know a trick question when you see one.

Yahoo! Movies referred to the Jennifer Lawrence on the left as “the stunning blonde Oscar nominee…unveiling her new brunette do and posing in character as Katniss Everdene,” the starring role in the upcoming movie of The Hunger Games.

The Jennifer Lawrence on the right was billed as looking “almost dowdy—her curves covered up—in a simple blue dress and sneakers and seemingly little makeup.”

Which only proves you don’t have to be a Rhodes scholars to be a journalist these days.

I mean, really.

The first problem is the implication that if you’re a woman and you want to ugly yourself up, the first thing you need to do is hide up your gorgeous blondness with some yucky brownth.

Good luck with that one.

In a 2005 study at Florida State University, nearly half of the men who where shown pictures of women said the brown-haired ones were the hottest. With less than twenty percent of the vote, blondes didn’t even come in second—women with black hair did.

You might be tempted to pity the poor redheads, who got only seven percent of the vote.

But you’ll be dashing off to Walgreen’s in search of a box auburn dye if you believe Women’s Health magazine’s contention that redheads should “stock up on condoms” because “according to one study, they get a lot more action” than blondes or brunettes.

You know what they found at Florida State? That what men really want—when it comes to long-term relationships, at least—is a gal that looks like…themselves. And since most men have brown or black hair…

You do the math.

Anyway, the second problem with the Yahoovian logic is that a dearth of makeup and a plain blue dress are enough to make Jennifer Lawrence look “dowdy.” You know, the way wearing their hair up and putting on glasses turns supermodels into librarians.

Commenters ripped the commentary on the two Jennifers, calling it sexist and biased. But the two that get thumbs up each from me are, “Love the brunette look much better! I think it draws more attention to those beautiful eyes,” and, “The trained eye can still spot the rockin’ hot bod ‘neath the ‘dowdiness.’ I’d tear it up!”

Another guy, commenting another story at another website, though, got to the pith. “It’s all about variety,” he wrote. “If everyone had the same preference, we’d all be going after the same woman.”

The bottom line? Dowdy’s in the eye of the beholder. And, apparently, more than skin deep.

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