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Culture —– Blonds in Latin America

by Brandi

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November 19th, 2010

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For the most part, in Latin America, the word for blond is “rubio” [ruby-oh]. In Mexico however, they will most often say “güero” [gweh-row]. The interesting thing about this word is that to most Latin Americans, anyone that does not have entirely dark black hair is considered “rubio” or “güero” (blond). Some Latin Americans will refer to friends or family, whose hair is lighter than “dark black”, as being “blond”. As we previously mentioned a few newsletters ago, many Mexicans call Americans “gringos”, but many of them also call Americans “güeros” because of the lighter hair that many of us may have. Do not worry, neither of these are offensive.

The first time I heard someone with “brunette” hair referred to as being “blond”, I thought maybe the Spanish speaker may have been color blind. I would show pictures of my family and they would refer to all of us, brunette or blond, as being blond. Initially this really threw me for a loop and took me a while to finally get used to this. But then, the more I heard it, the more I realized that to a Latin American, anyone that has hair lighter than “dark black” would be considered “rubio” or “güero” (blond).

Another interesting note is that some Latin Americans like, or may be attracted to, foreigners with lighter hair. Take me, for instance.  I definitely would not at all consider myself a real “good-looking” person. However, when I would walk down the streets of Latin America, teenage girls, from their windows, would make a hissing sound at me as I passed. This was a way of flirting in the regions where I lived. It happened so often that it actually became a bit of a bother, especially since I had a girlfriend back home. Pretty soon though, I just learned to completely ignore it. Again though – it did not happen because I am a good-looking person, but because I have dark-blond hair and blue eyes.

On the other side of the spectrum, it was also the dream of many of my native Latin American male friends to marry a foreign blue-eyed blonde haired girl. I even had two specific friends, including a former business partner that moved to the United States and married a blue-eyed blonde or “rubias” and their “dreams came true” after all.

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