One thing people need to stop saying to foreigners

I am white. I have blonde hair and blue eyes, but I magically don’t burn all that easily. I married a blue eyed, white man who does burn easily, and we have three, very white, very blonde children also with blue eyes.

We stand out here.

And I don’t mean like, you’re a little overdressed for the party so you feel slightly awkward stand out. We are a full blown circus act, sideshow, exhibit at a zoo stand out. It’s quite uncomfortable at times. G doesn’t understand why it bothers me, but the strong, red-bearded, Norwegian man that he is can take care of himself. Luckily he’s on my side, right? Being stared and hollered at (even while driving the van with all three kids in the back-not to mention when one is in the stroller, one riding on it, and one is strapped to my back) is disconcerting…kind of makes me not want to go anywhere just to avoid feeling that way. I can’t even tell you how many times strangers have rubbed the boys’ blonde heads, tried to hold their hands, or pick them up and give them hugs.

In any case, the one thing that no one should really ever say is “Are you foreigners?” I mean seriously? Sure, there might be some genuine curiosity there, but couldn’t you open with something slightly less obvious?

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m hanging onto my American culture pretty tight (although I am making a huge effort to learn the language). Maybe it’s because I come from America that I’m used to diversity and find comfort in it, but then again there are plenty of people in America who don’t share those feelings with me. I wonder how the native Brazillian’s feel about me and my family being here. Kind of scary to think that it could be the same that some American’s feel about foreigners there.

Have you ever felt like you were on display?


3 thoughts on “One thing people need to stop saying to foreigners

  1. As an Africa American women I have felt like an outcast, spectacle and on display more times then I care to admit and I live in the great US of A. I have been told to go back to my country as recently as this past July when I was waiting in line at the post office. Strangers have asked if I actually bleed red with the straightest of faces. I have had women and men reach out and touch my hair while waiting in line at the grocery store and then have the audacity to get offended when I snap at them and tell them what they did was wrong. Its a very strang world we live in. I was taught to respect other people’s differences and if you could even remotely offend someone with your question then don’t ask…look it up. In the age of the internet and Google answers to most of life’s questions are just a fingertip away. What’s most frightening is in the country that I call home there are times where I am still treated like a spectacle or outcast on a monthly basis. I would expect this if I lived in another country especially one that isn’t as diverse as America but its really hard to swallow when you’re ‘home’.

  2. Yes, when I was in Mexico as a young college student, with (then) very, very blonde hair, fair skin and blue eyes, I constantly felt like a sideshow at a carnival. Strangers touched me without asking, and some even wrapped my long blonde hair around their arm. Shouts of “muy bonita” followed me everywhere. People at home thought I should be flattered, but it was quite disconcerting.

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