Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Why being stared at made me almost cry

Ever since we relocated to Singapore, I face the issue that people stare at me on almost a daily basis. Knowing that staring at other people is not consider as rude in Asia and the fact I do look different to the Asian ladies with my blond, long hair and blue eyes, I did not mind it so much at the start. I basically ignore it and big sun glasses always helped too. Over time, I sometimes felt a little bit more brave and even stared back and imitated their way of staring at me by scanning them from head to top. Something must have changed lately because I cannot ignore it as easy anymore as I used to. It makes me feel more and more uncomfortable.

Last weekend in Malaysia, I felt so uncomfortable that I was on the verge of crying and hiding in our hotel room after being continuously stared at for 3 days. Don't get me wrong here and, yes, I know I should take it as a compliment. Seriously, it is not a nice feeling when everyone just looks at you. It even went so far that some people would start to talk to their friends or family and then everyone looks again. It made me feel very insecure about myself, vulnerable even. In particular when I lay in a bikini by the pool and had one of those "fat days".

I guess the fact that Malaysia has a large Muslim population contributed to the fact that I was stared at when lying in a bikini by pool. For me it is so normal to go swimming in a bikini whereas for other cultures it is strictly forbidden to reveal so much skin. It was actually forbidden to go swimming fully clothed and/or with a scarf according to the hotel rules. So I did not do anything wrong by wearing a black bikini, it wasn't a tiny skimpy piece either.

Still a bit battered and down by this experience , I googled a few expat and travel forums today to see (and get assurance) if anyone feels in a similar way I feel. Maybe I am just a little weak princess who should toughen up more. And yes, there are heaps of Western people who feel in the same way and no I am not weak little princess. Every Western person seems to have an issue with being stared at and it is not the issue of rudeness. It is about being uncomfortable, the feeling of being judged by all these stranger. I am not sure if these strangers really judged me when staring at me. They probably still wonder about me looking different to them. Not a bad way.

But I can't help it, it makes me feel so uncomfortable. So please no more stares, please. How do you feel being stared at? Do you love it or loathe it? 

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