Friday, January 23, 2015

Discovering how my Features stand out

New Year's Eve


While I can't imagine what it will be like to be a Westerner in UB, in Mongolia, I am beginning to learn what features of mine will stand out and be noticed by Mongolians. While I've always felt pretty ordinary in the US--brown hair, brown eyes, medium build--I will not be normal or ordinary there.

First, not only is my nose long, but it is also SHARP with all of its angles. Today Zorig will meet my older sister Fawn and I'll be curious to see what he thinks of her nose. :)  Asian noses, according to him, are short and rounded (not sharp!).

Secondly, apparently I have a "skinny face." It's true that I've lost some weight since this past summer, but nothing drastic. Here I think it's the simple difference between the bone structures of Westerners and Asians (again, Asian is a huge racial group and I'm aware of differences and varieties, forgive me for the generalization). For most of my life I've been told by people that I remind them of someone. Did I go to their high school? Or college? Or work with them at X or Y? Alas, I've not recognized any of them or had mutual connections. I think it's simply that I have common features and a bit of the girl-next-door attitude that is familiar to many. Sometimes Z simply touches my cheeks simultaneously and comments on my skinny face. I find it strange to have a part of me that is so commonplace to be perceived as rare and desirable.

Third, I have deep set eyes. Looking at Asian features, this makes sense to me, and yet, it's not something I ever really considered or spent time thinking about. When I was in high school I thought to myself that I wanted to be open-minded and set a goal to date someone from every race (obviously not EVERY....but the major categories at least). All through high school and college, I kept an eye out for an Asian man that I was attracted to. None ever appeared. Until July 30th of 2014. When Zorig left the room that night after being introduced to us, I turned to my father and commented that he was an attractive man. It was an off-handed comment and I certainly never expected anything to develop between him and I. And much has. :)

Finally, there is the reality that I am a "white woman." Of course I know that I check the Caucasian box when I fill out paperwork. However, I've never been called a "white woman" until this relationship. I've found it both strange and strangely exciting. I do not consider Asians to be "of color," but Zorig refers to them as being yellow. I can tell you that when we met this summer I was jealous of how evenly he tanned. I thought my arms would be darker than his with all of my freckles, but alas, they are not. He is correct and my skin appears quite white next to his.

I do ponder what it will be like to walk the streets of UB. How often will I be stared at (probably a lot when I attempt to speak Mongolian!) or watched. We often talk about how people will be curious about us. I've always enjoyed shocking and surprising people--intentionally so as a teenager, now it just seems to be a product of who I've become. So be it.

I think perhaps it's a good experience to discover what it feels like to be different from, to stand out, to realize that to someone, somewhere in the world, your ordinary, everyday features, can seem exotic and rare.

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