Spectacularly Remarkable, Remarkably Spectacular: Getting Used to Getting Stared At

Wandering around Seoul with my parents, having been approached by a university student interviewing tourists, and a handful of teenagers with the sort of shy/bold combination demeanor that I’ve only ever seen teenage girls pull off, saying “Hello, my name is….” and collapsing into fits of giggles when I responded cheerfully, I realized something.

I’m getting pretty good at being spectacular and remarkable. That is, spectacular in the sense of being a spectacle, remarkable in the sense of getting commented on.

This is the sort of thing you deal with when you’re white in Asia, white in many parts of Africa, or have blue hair just about anywhere. People stare with varying degrees of subtlety.

From the little kid in the grocery store who gapes, open-mouthed, at me until I grin, then runs off to excitedly tell their mom about it, to the little old ladies who seem rather horrified by my short sleeves on the subway (even if it is kept at the approximate temperature of the hubs of hell) people have been staring at me rather a lot lately.

Even the other foreigners around tend to stare, probably observing the same look on my face that I see on theirs as we both think to ourselves “Holy crap, another one! Should I say hi or would that just be too typical?”

In England, I didn’t look much different. My ancestry is pretty British, and even if it wasn’t Britain, much like the parts of Canada I’ve spent a lot of time in, tends to be fairly multicultural. I wasn’t obviously different until I opened my mouth. In Asia on the other hand, I stick out like a sore thumb.

Walking around with my parents, I noticed it again. The feeling of being watched, of being looked at. Wondering if there’s something on my face, because people keep looking at me. That could be because groups are often more conspicuous than individuals, or it could have been because I’m not used to getting stared at when my parents are around.

Either way, I’m getting pretty used to being stared at. Around here, I’m spectacular and remarkable.


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