Author Topic: You don't look American.  (Read 44960 times)

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Spoder

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Re: You don't look American.
« Reply #15 on: May 12, 2011, 01:54:41 AM »
Looks, I do not get that much haranguing. Maybe because the USA is so diverse. By my looks alone, the most common guess of my ancestry is Italian- though if you add up Israeli/Jewish/Hebrew, that would be second, and otherwise I have not computed what third is. 

I get much more a "you don't sound American". Which sometimes the way it is said, the implication is "you are not a real American".

Nah. Sometimes people phrase things badly, you know? That could just as easily be a compliment to your accent or even just inflection. It's still a silly thing to say, but not neccesarily derogatory.

:P Maybe you and the OP should carry guns and drop the F bomb more.


Ha ha.  ;D.

I think this kind of thing is pretty common, to be honest. People have vague stereotypes in their heads that they're barely aware of. I lived in various overseas countries for years and was often told I didn't look Australian. Of course, the person would then have no idea what they thought 'Australian' should look like. A few times it was apparently because I had an 'English face'. (Yeah, no idea about that one).

Ereine

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Re: You don't look American.
« Reply #16 on: May 12, 2011, 02:12:09 AM »
There's one look that to me seems American, not because all Americans look the same and those that don't look like my stereotype are obviously as American, but it seems that other nationalities don't look like that. (For some strange reason my stereotypical American is a hiker and has a glossy brown hair and a wide smile). And there's something about clothes and body language that may make me think that someone's American. Not that it matters at all, it's mostly just idle curiosity and I would never tell anyone that they don't look like X (I don't look like the Scandinavian stereotype of blond and tall, but not that many people actually look like that in Finland). For some reason some people assumed that I was English when I was living in the Netherlands, despite my awful accent, maybe because I wanted to speak English to them.

And Russians often look like Russians, at least the ones I've met. There are some other groups as well, I might recognize Germans abroad for example and many Swedes seem to have the same smile, even if they weren't born there. Though when I was in Holland I saw a group of very well dressed (like suits when other people were wearing t-shirts) people who didn't look local and was shocked when they started speaking Finnish. The Finnish stereotype is that we don't understand fashion :)

Brentwood

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Re: You don't look American.
« Reply #17 on: May 12, 2011, 02:30:43 AM »
I think some countries have a definite "look." 

I agree. I think I "look" like my Scandinavian heritage would suggest.

Of course, I also look American, because...well, I am American!

Nurvingiel

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Re: You don't look American.
« Reply #18 on: May 12, 2011, 02:38:47 AM »
This just goes to show you don't just learn a new language in an ESL (or other language) course. You also learned the local customs. This is a great time to disabuse the naive student of a fairly offensive notion that all Americans looks the same.

I took Swedish as a second language when I was there. But it was actually my neighbours in the student building who taught me the most about culture.

I remember talking about stereotypes with one friend. She said that people think all Swedes are blonde. She was blonde herself but not all Swedes are blonde. Not by a longshot. Of course I would never dream of telling someone they don't look like they're from Sweden/the USA/wherever. In Canada such a statement is considered ridiculous.

Maybe it's normal in a country where people do tend to have similar features. But it still seems rude to me to basically call someone out for not looking a certain way.
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magdalena

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Re: You don't look American.
« Reply #19 on: May 12, 2011, 03:18:07 AM »
I pretty much fit the stereotype of a Finn (except I like to think that I know how to dress, lol, Ereine, that's so true  ;D ;D... actually, I pretty much dress "German" by now and might even appear German to foreigners), and I have had a hard time explaining to people that no, not every Finn is tall, blond and blue-eyed, no no.
Extra points were given when my best friend visited. She's my height, blonder and her eyes are probably a bit bluer  ;D >:D And we were going around saying, "oh, no, most finns are not blond. No no, most have brown hair. Really. And not really all that tall... oh those pics of us with a bunch of tall young men, well, those are our cousins and brothers, yes, they're blond. And tall. And blue-eyed. And Finns. But no, no, not all Finns look like that. Not at all"



Flibbertigibbet

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Re: You don't look American.
« Reply #20 on: May 13, 2011, 01:39:35 PM »
I'm English and have been 'accused' of lying when I say I am. I am apparently French, Italian or Greek, but definitely not English  ::). I even got an 'are you sure?' from a complete stranger once after he enquired about my nationality. Um, yes? lol. Another person kept speaking what I think was Greek to me (and as I don't speak Greek, it was as the saying goes 'all Greek to me'!) I think in an effort to make me 'come clean'...It didn't work for obvious reasons!

The only reason I can think of for this happening is that I have very dark hair and when I have a tan have quite olivey skin, but still!

Auntie Mame

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Re: You don't look American.
« Reply #21 on: May 13, 2011, 03:12:04 PM »
I don't think anyone can. An American can look like anything. That's the beauty of the United States. It was just a strange encounter.
I've also had elderly ladies speak to me in Russian and I had to apologize that I didn't understand what they were saying.
That is EXACTLY how I feel.  I love the diversity of people I see everyday.
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Nurvingiel

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Re: You don't look American.
« Reply #22 on: May 13, 2011, 04:16:03 PM »
FWIW I don't know a lot of Finns but the ones I do know always dress well. That's not a stereotype I really "get". Maybe it's more prevalent in Europe.

People actually thought I was Swedish when I learned how to speak the language. Like many Swedes I have brown hair and brown eyes. Except they all thought I was from the part of Sweden where they have a strange accent (no offence Malmö).
If I had some ham, I could have ham and eggs, if I had some eggs.

magician5

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Re: You don't look American.
« Reply #23 on: May 14, 2011, 04:23:27 AM »
I am an American, and I live in a VERY ethnically diverse area.

Some countries or regions do indeed have a very distinct "look". For instance, it's not much trouble telling a Korean from a Japanese. Around here we have a lot of Hispanic people from a wide variety of countries, but I know if they look like the pictures the Aztecs and Incas painted they are almost certainly from Central or South America.

But first and foremost, I assume all of them to be Americans unless told otherwise. My people (whoever they are ... I'm an adoptee) came here from somewhere else, too. I'm thrilled, and my life is enriched, to be in an inclusive country (at least, that's what I was taught, recent ugly attitudes notwithstanding).

As for "what are you?", that is so rude, compared to "where are you from?"
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Ereine

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Re: You don't look American.
« Reply #24 on: May 14, 2011, 07:31:58 AM »
FWIW I don't know a lot of Finns but the ones I do know always dress well. That's not a stereotype I really "get". Maybe it's more prevalent in Europe.

I think that's a mostly Finnish stereotype, along with the stereotypes that Finns can't speak English and that we can't behave (very often a politicians visit to another country is accompanied by headlines about how they shamed Finland by not speaking fluent enough English or by having an ugly handbag, in the case of our president).

HorseFreak

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Re: You don't look American.
« Reply #25 on: May 14, 2011, 08:13:01 AM »
I was told the other day I looked European, not American. I wasn't sure what to make of that since I am a Euro-Mutt (Irish, Scottish, Polish and Slovak) from three generations back.

One of my colleagues is a 6'1" Mexican and he's constantly told he's too tall. His brothers are even taller. I don't think people realize that not everyone from Mexico looks exactly the same. His niece is nearly blonde and fairly light skinned.

iridaceae

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Re: You don't look American.
« Reply #26 on: May 14, 2011, 08:42:36 AM »
My father's family is all German, as far as we can tell and my mother was Estonian. In 2009 my dad and I went over to Europe to visit my sister and her husband in Germany and then went down to Lake Como to visit my dad's brother, who has retired there, and then up through Switzerland [we took the scenic but not very much used anymore Spluga Pass] to Neuschwanstein. While we were visiting my uncle we went to Lecco for the day and decided to have some gelato.  So, we went up to order and the young lady promptly spoke to us in German.   Then we were up having lunch in Spluga and I went across the street to the souvenir shop...and the man behind the counter spoke to me in German. 

I guess my fair complection, beige hair and fat cheeks and face make me look German.

Giggity

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Re: You don't look American.
« Reply #27 on: May 14, 2011, 09:18:13 AM »
I think this kind of thing is pretty common, to be honest. People have vague stereotypes in their heads that they're barely aware of. I lived in various overseas countries for years and was often told I didn't look Australian. Of course, the person would then have no idea what they thought 'Australian' should look like. A few times it was apparently because I had an 'English face'. (Yeah, no idea about that one).

Even inside the United States, we deal in stereotypes by state. Texans, of which I am one, all have scads of guns, big cars preferably with longhorn horns mounted on the front, and oil wells in our back yards.
Words mean things.

Nurvingiel

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Re: You don't look American.
« Reply #28 on: May 14, 2011, 01:50:30 PM »
FWIW I don't know a lot of Finns but the ones I do know always dress well. That's not a stereotype I really "get". Maybe it's more prevalent in Europe.

I think that's a mostly Finnish stereotype, along with the stereotypes that Finns can't speak English and that we can't behave (very often a politicians visit to another country is accompanied by headlines about how they shamed Finland by not speaking fluent enough English or by having an ugly handbag, in the case of our president).
LOL who cares what Tarja Halonen's handbag looks like, she the President not a model.
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Ereine

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Re: You don't look American.
« Reply #29 on: May 14, 2011, 02:39:03 PM »
FWIW I don't know a lot of Finns but the ones I do know always dress well. That's not a stereotype I really "get". Maybe it's more prevalent in Europe.

I think that's a mostly Finnish stereotype, along with the stereotypes that Finns can't speak English and that we can't behave (very often a politicians visit to another country is accompanied by headlines about how they shamed Finland by not speaking fluent enough English or by having an ugly handbag, in the case of our president).
LOL who cares what Tarja Halonen's handbag looks like, she the President not a model.

But it causes the whole world to mock us, at least according to some. Some people call her Moominmamma, like it's an insult.

I think that Finns think too much about what other people think of us, when in reality they don't think much at all of us :)