"Those who would think that design writing and poetry have little in common have not yet read Natalia Ilyin." --Michael Bierut
"A bracing look at the upsides and shortcomings of the designer's urge to create perfection in...post 9-11 America." -- Glen Helfand, CMYK
"Ilyin’s design commentaries will pique the interest of anyone who is serious about design ideology and theology." -- Steven Heller
"An exciting gem of a book full of existential insights." -- Kalle Lasn, author of Culture Jam and Design Anarchy
"Mix one part Robert Graves, one part Fran Lebowitz, and one part peroxide, and you get this scholarly, slyly funny, and deliciously readable exploration of the ultimate meaning of blondeness."
From Library Journal
"Ilyin, a teacher and a critic, has constructed an insightful and humorous examination of the meaning and myth of the blonde, especially blonde women, in American society. She introduces us to a few different kinds of blondes--the Apollo Blonde, the Trophy Blonde, the California Sun Blonde, the Moon Blonde, and the Ironic Blonde--each of whom corresponds to a series of cultural ideas and attitudes. Using real-life blondes like Marilyn Monroe, Martha Stewart, and Gloria Steinem to demonstrate these categories and weaving references to cultural theorists like Joseph Campbell and Robert Graves into the narrative, Ilyin has written a unique book. A nice companion to Forever Barbie: The Unauthorized Biography of a Real Doll (Morrow, 1994); recommended for libraries serving general readers and undergraduates."
-Jenny Lynn Presnell, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, OH
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From The Washington Post
"... Natalia Ilyin reaches for the peroxide bottle to highlight our sometimes dark fascination with the light-haired... Blonde Like Me is a memoir masquerading as, or braided with, a clever critique of the obsession with blondeness... A wisecracking writer and smart scholar, often a pleasure to read, Ilyin could have taken her ideas further. Maybe she didn't want to try the reader's patience with too much academic analysis and organization...Still, it's about time somebody peeled the foil off our obsession with blonde and blonder, and Blonde Like Me does. "
From Kirkus Reviews
"A flip, funny, thought-provoking evocation of the need to be a blonde amid all its mythic and symbolic ramifications. Because peripatetic cultural theorist Ilyin, whos taught at Yale and Cooper Union, was born a blonde and remained one until puberty, she and others like her, she avers, have the right to live a ``blonde life.'' That can mean anything from getting more attention from taxi drivers, subway conductors, and waiters to becoming the next Marilyn Monroe. Ilyins discourse begins with an inventory of the blondes on boxes in the hair-care aisle, ranging from the Golden Sunlight Blonde (most popular) to the lightest Baby Blonde. They break down into three categories: Sun Goddesses, Moon Goddesses, and Innocents. Among the blondes who preserve the face of innocencevulnerable, presexual, forever youngare the Virgin Mary, Princess Diana, and Nicole Simpson. Among the Sun Blondes are Martha Stewart (in the Summer Wheat subcategory) and Farrah Fawcett, epitome of the California blonde. But even sun blonde has its darker side, illuminated by delving into creation myths, Jung, and Hitlers Aryan ideal. A discussion of omnipotent Moon Blondes leads into tales of ancient goddesses, transformed today into the compelling yet dangerous decadence of Marlene Dietrich in The Blue Angel. Further subcategories include the Ironic Blonde (Gloria Steinem), the mixed blonde (Dolly Parton), and the old blonde, who opts for pastel colors in an attempt to hide the dreaded mythical crone beneath the look of a Walt Disney fairy godmother. It is not mere vanity at play with the peroxide bottle, says Ilyin, but a heroic attempt to blend myth with reality. Blondes, she notes, want to be remembered, just like the (blonde) Vikings. Must reading for all blondes, friends of blondes, and would-be blondesnone of whom will ever look at a dark root in the same way again. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved."
"A witty, shrewd despatch from semiotics boot camp."
-- Vera Rule, The Guardian (UK), October 7, 2000
"...I took to heart the axiom at the heart of Ms. Ilyin's book, which is that a blonde is never just a blonde. Ms. Ilyin...has constructed a kind of blond memoir, in which she recounts her life through a peroxide prism, from highlights to double process, from cultural studies student to Armpiece Blonde.... Ms. Ilyin, who knows her Robert Graves, weaves personal history into the mythologies of many cultures, always extracting some deeper meaning about blond tresses, in such a way that leaves you dizzy.... "
-- Penelope Green, The New York Times, April 9, 2000
"...Natalia Ilyin has perpetrated the ultimate blonde joke... It is loosely disguised as autobiography but she has written a serious, erudite, sometimes profound and frequently very funny study of the historic condition of being blonde...It is not all glittering highlights, however. In the chapter on the Innocent, Ilyin gives a cogent and persuasive reading of why the death of the Princess of Wales caused so much worldwide grief. Her relatively brief assessment of the phenomenon has more going for it than the maudlin ramblings from the likes of Julie Burchill and Anna Pasternak.... "
-- Diana Simmonds, The Weekend Australian, March 4-5 2000
"...Why do women want to be blonde? Just because gentlemen prefer them -- or is there something more complicated going on? I must warn you that if you would like a wholly serious answer to that rather interesting question, you'll have to look elsewhere. Camille Paglia says some provocative things in ``Sexual Personae,'' as does Susan Brownmiller in ``Femininity.'' However, neither Paglia nor Brownmiller is as much fun to read as Ilyin...."
-- Joann Gutin, The San Jose Mercury News, April 9, 2000
"Natalia Ilyin forever puts to rest the theory of the "dumb blonde." This very witty, very wise book reads as if Mae West, RuPaul, Princess Diana, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, and I all had Freud on the couch and were trying to explain to him why he should "lighten up."
-- Ilene Beckerman
author of What We Do for Love and Love, Loss, and What I Wore
"This is a book about society's fixation with yellow hair, or the myth of the blonde. In other words, it's largely a book about hair dying: why we do it and what it means. There are, it seems, many different kinds of blondes, and not just on the "tint" shelf in the drugstore. There are different blonde personalities: "the innocent blonde," the baby blonde who is virginal and childlike and pure (think Lisa Kudrow in Friends); the sun blonde, an asexual earth goddess/mom type (Martha Stewart); and "the Apollo blonde," a no-nonsense, cool, unreachable blonde (Dianne Sawyer). Based on graphic designer Ilyin's personal experience and anecdotal research, Blonde Like Me is an engaging study of a subject that might appear superficial but quickly proves to be worth it's weight in Clairol. "
-- Entertainment Weekly, February 4, 2000
"Natalia Ilyin takes a premise as wispy as a strand of baby blonde hair and weaves it into a surprisingly rich and entertaining tapestry."
--M. G. Lord, author of Forever Barbie
"Funny -- and helpful to those of us who have spent much of our lives trying to puzzle out the insufferable appeal of blondes."
--Bruce Jay Friedman