In her debate article on the website Ledarsidorna, Helberlein recalled an incident when a middle-aged woman and her teenage daughter (both blondes) were coarsely insulted by a passing driver, simply because of the color of their hair. By her own admission, Helberlein has herself experienced various insults of that kind from “people with non-European appearances,” which is why she decided to share this painful experience on Facebook. It turned out that many of her fellow blonde Swedes were able to personally relate to this degrading treatment. However, in the ensuing debate in the commentaries, Helberlein’s experience was questioned and belittled by people who profiled themselves as anti-racists. Helberlein was told to ‘keep quiet’ and ‘stop whining’ and was accused of ‘thriving in the role of a victim.’
Sweden, along with the other Nordic nations, is commonly associated with blond people. Despite the fact that this stereotype is in fact well justified, blond Swedes, who constitute the majority, often find themselves discriminated against in a country that likes to characterize itself as a crusader of human rights and equality.
According to Ann Heberlein, a freelance writer, author and lecturer in ethics at Lund University, blond Swedes find themselves habitually harassed and sneered at in their own country, despite the Swedish authorities’ relentless campaign against discrimination.