Saturday, August 11, 2018

To blend or not to blend?

I've never blended.

Not really.

My entire life I have felt like I stood out. I have always felt like everyone was looking at me. I have always felt head and shoulders above the crowd.

Because, well, because I was.

I have realized that my standing out is two-fold.

One is that I am tall. That part is obvious.

However, having Tijmen here from the Netherlands, I realized that the other part of that is that I am a coloring that isn't exceptionally "normal."

Here's what funny. While standing together in Lowes, a man walked up to the two of us and said: "Wow. There must be Scandinavian blood here." And he's not the first person to say that. Everyone who sees Tijmen and I thinks we look a lot alike. I actually started to believe it.

But then last night Tijmen said to me: "In the Netherlands, no one would think we look alike. Everyone is blonde there. We don't look at blonde as making people look alike."

So in addition to not blending because I am tall, I don't blend because I am a blonde, blue-eyed person. While either of these can occur in America, the combination of the two of those things is incredibly rare. I have in fact only met three other women in America who were blonde and above six-foot tall like I am.

A few moments of my life stand out particularly for me when it comes to blending.

One was traveling around Turkey with my friend Linda. Linda is one of those gals who can blend into so many cultures nearly seamlessly. But as we walked through the mall, I vividly remember her saying: "Wow Wendi. You are right. You do not blend."

In fact, this feeling was not new to me. As early as four-years-old, I remember graduating from preschool and feeling different as the teachers took a photo holding each of the students in their arms ... except for me. They kneeled down next to me. It is one of my earliest memories, and my mother says she remembers feeling uncomfortable for me. I also remember feeling incredibly uncomfortable and sad that they didn't pick me up.

However, the other moment that stands out to me was the moment, as a twenty-three-year-old married woman, I disembarked from a train in Switzerland. The moment those doors open, I felt like putting my hands up in the air and spinning in circles and singing, "I'm home! These are my people!"

All of this had made me think. What would I rather do? John has often commented that he isn't exceptionally "memorable." His name is John and he looks like a pretty "normal American guy." (Whatever that means.) But for me, I've never felt that way. I have always felt different. So would I rather blend? Or rather stand out?

What about you? What's your opinion on this? Love to hear from you!


AW said...

It's funny. I partly grew up in Hawaii. Where everyone is mixed Asian or Polynesian race like I am. (I'm Japanese American.) So that made pretty much everyone over there short and dark skinned/eyed/haired like me. I never had issues buying clothes or finding my shoe size. I thought I blended in with the crowd there most times, but I dealt with racism because people thought I pulled my Caucasian blood stronger. I was often outcast because I was half white. So maybe I didn't blend as well as I thought.

But when I moved to the Mainland? I was immediately struck by how WHITE and TALL everyone was. Ha! Everyone seemed to have light skin and eyes and hair. I could NEVER find my sized clothing or shoes. I've had to get jeans hemmed ever since I landed here. Now on the mainland I've dealt with racism because I'm part Japanese. I've been called Jap, Chink, Gook, Chinagirl, you name it. So do I blend in here? Not especially. Perhaps if I lived on the West Coast or NYC where their is a bigger melting pot of East Asians. But down here in Texas, I don't. What's funny? My half brothers (half white/half Chinese) who are from Hawaii and surf all the time (thus dark skinned), fit here fine because people think they're Mexican. Haha!

Anonymous said...

I'm not over 6 ft but I'm about 5'10", blonde and blue eyed. I'm from Norwegian decent. I agree with the feelings of not blending in. We lived on Guam when I was a kid (my dad was in the Navy) and man did my cotton top stick out like a sore thumb there! When I was young, I was very tall for a girl but now there are women like yourself who have me beat height wise! It was hard to find tall pants, tall men, etc. now that's not such a problem but it was! I will say that I'm glad to be tall, blonde and blue eyed! Blondes have more fun! Ha Ha!

Tamara said...

As a redhead, I've always stood out. I remember feeling so uncomfortable as a kid because adults would make such a fuss over how beautiful my hair was... but my peers would pick on me for having red hair because it was different. I desperately wanted to be blond, which wasn't helped by the fact that in kindergarten I wanted to be Goldilocks in our class play, but as a redhead with a bob, I was immediately out of the running and the part was given to the girl with the long curly blond hair.

I think because I stood out a lot as a kid (the red hair thing and the only child thing), I spent my teenage years wanting to blend. And sometimes now as an adult that's still what I want. For instance, when people ask if I'd rather be the most underdressed or overdressed person in the room, I pick underdressed because I find being overdressed incredibly awkward. But I tend to put myself in situations where blending is hard, through travel and right now living in a country where I don't speak much of the local language. So I've come to terms with standing out. And, I will say I do absolutely love my red hair as a grown up :).

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that they thought the two of you were Scandinavian. If I see a tall, blonde, blue-eyed person, I immediately think that he/she would be Dutch. But then again, those are the communities I've lived in. If you were to visit parts of the upper Midwest, especially the NW corner of Iowa (Orange City, Pella, Sioux Center...all huge Dutch communities), you would not feel out of place. All, but one of my aunts were close to 6', I have female cousins that are 6' or over...also blonde with blue eyes. My dad was one of the shortest in his family at 5'11. All the people I grew up around were tall with blonde hair and blue eyes (I'm short - only 5'5).