Purple Three Eyed Alien

“I am going away to an unknown country where I shall have no past and no name, and where I shall be born again with a new face and an untried heart.”

I am pretty sure I have grown an extra arm. Or maybe I am purple from head to toe. Or possibly I am eighteen feet tall but haven’t realized it yet. That’s how I feel when people stare at me here, I feel as if I am an extraterrestrial. It continues to surprise me how, just because my hair is a little lighter and my eyes are blue, I am treated as if I am a different species. I am constantly pointed at, stared at, and followed, just because my skin color is a bit different. Though I have always been happily different than most of my peers, conformity is definitely not something I stand for, there are times that I wish I could just blend in. I want to live life in these rural remote villages, but I don’t always want to be the center of attention.

The staring and curiosity I can deal with, normally, but something that has put me off from the start is the discrimination towards whites, a “white supremacy” discrimination. People here are constantly praising my white skin, telling me that they wished theirs was white as well. Some women even powder their faces everyday to make their skin lighter. Children (and occasionally grown women) try and ask my opinion as to “how white they are,” comparing themselves to their friends and neighbors in hopes they will come out the “whitest.” Marrying darker is seen as shameful, and being called black is an insult. Plainly stated white is seen as better here, and though I am white, I absolutely hate the thoughtless discrimination that is accepted as the norm.

Though there isn’t much I can say to change how it is, I am constantly thinking in my head: “I’m not a zoo animal, I’m a person just like you. And just because I am white, doesn’t mean I should be treated differently, for better or for worst.”

9 thoughts on “Purple Three Eyed Alien

  1. Amen, girl. But admit it, it could be worse, much worse…but only in the severity of the extreme: they’re not out to lynch you cuz of your skin color!

  2. Your posts indicate that everyday you are becoming more of an undeniable person. We are all already much better off for your journey. fdr

  3. Interesting story, reminds me of 2 things:

    1. In ancient China there was a preference for lighter-skinned women as brides; here, skin color was used as a proxy for family wealth. Women were dark-skinned if they labored in the fields, so dark skin was an indicator of low economic status; ligher-skinned women typically came from families with enough wealth that women could stay indoors. Social aspiring families might choose a daughter to stay home in hopes of marrying her up in the social ladder (meaning the parents & rest of family would have to work harder & sacrifice more for her). Note this was not racism nor was it discrimination in the modern skin-color sense.

    2. A family friend was a missionary in Papau New Guniea for years. The thing she said she missed the most was the ability to “blend in with the crowd”. No matter where she went in PNG she stuck out obviously – skin and hair color and clothing. No anonymity at all.

  4. When I visited India in the 80s I was told that the word Caste means color, and that the darker people were lower caste. Indeed, the darkest non-African person I ever saw in my life was a janitor at the Delhi airport. I was shocked and surprised, especially when a beautiful woman told me that the man she’d wanted to marry couldn’t marry her because she was too dark for his family to accept. It is a sad state of affairs. Yet, oddly, for a European to marry an Indian, was also frowned upon, as the children would be out-caste, even though presumably of a lighter color. The vagaries of the human condition……unfathomable.

  5. We ran into this all the time in China, Shirine, and I think it grew out of ancient class division there. Traditionally, the poorer, peasant classes worked the fields outside in the sun and evolved darker complexions; while the important wealthier classes could stay indoors and avoid the sun. I sometimes made a point of telling Chinese friends who were really stuck on the white skin thing that in America mostly only rich people can afford to play outside in the sun all the time and have beautiful tanned skin; while the poor have to work inside in factories and shops and are usually pale looking. It was stretching the truth a bit, but it always would stop them in their tracks and produce a look of confusion…. especially since, in those days at least, so many people in China romanticized what they thought of as high-class, wealthy Western style, and hated being thought of as poor by Americans.

    • That’s a lot like what I tell people, I often comment that in America most people want to look tan, and white is actually bad! Funny how perceptions change so much depending on the country.

  6. Hi Shirine, I’ve been reading your blog for a while and it’s great.

    Don’t stress so much about the preferance of white skin – it’s just a beauty standard. In most Asian countries (including China, Japan and S-Korea) paler skin is preferred to darker as it is more ‘elegant’ – white skin tells you’ve not had to spend time outside in the sun labouring. Europe and N-America used to be the same too before tanning (=”luxurious, since can afford holidays in the sun”) became fashionable 🙂
    I’m the palest possible shade of northern european whiteness, nearing zombielike skintone. If someone in Thailand asks me if I think their nicely brown skin looks white to me, I lie and say it’s a lot paler than many others. Beauty standards vary in different cultures – I bet you have heard some strange sounding compliments too and will hear more in the future (my favourites are when I’m told my face is small and my body big 😀 )

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s