Being Blonde in Mexico — The North Star Reports – by Jennifer Battcher. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal
Living in the upper Midwest, I have never thought much about the relatively homogenous society in which I participate. Being pale in many aspects of my appearance has allowed me to fit right in with the majority of people in the surrounding areas. When I was in Mexico, I experienced what it feels like to look different from nearly everyone around. I had been in Mexico several days, paying absolutely no mind to the fact that I looked very different from most of the people there. It never even occurred to me how much I stood out from those within my group, but it certainly occurred to other people.
“Jenny, these guys want to talk to you because you’re blonde,” said a girl in my group while we were out one night. Because you are blonde. Suddenly, I felt so very noticeable and defined by this one glaring feature that set me apart from the rest. Another time, while my traveling group had dinner with a family from the area, the older ladies started to laugh and giggle as a teenage boy’s face turned red. It was translated to me that this boy was wondering if I would take a picture with him because of my blonde hair. As he stood next to me, embarrassed but defiant to get his picture, I felt very on display, again. Like my hair was shouting “I’m different from you! I’m different from you!” Not only were all the Mexican people staring as our picture was snapped, but so was every brown, black and red haired person from my group. They all stood grouped together watching me and my conspicuous hair with emotionless eyes.
Suddenly my morning routine changed. As I brushed my hair I began to wonder if I should wear it up to hide the blondness or wear it down and embrace my peculiarity.
When I returned to my society of doppelgängers, I started to notice the few people who don’t camouflage in the snow and wonder if they feel as if a spot light shines on them and their features. Some features that stand out aren’t as easily hidden just by putting your hair up. I wonder what kind of comments and experiences they encounter, and if they ever feel like blending in with the crowd.
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The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The College of St. Scholastica and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal’s online learning community and outreach program with undergraduate and K-12 classes around the world. The North Star Reports has flourished since 2012. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:
The North Star Reports publishes edited essays from our students, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Students have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing reviews of books, documentaries, and films, and analysis of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers. We thank The Department of History and Politics and the School of Arts and Letters of The College of St. Scholastica for their generous financial support for The North Star Reports and The Middle Ground Journal.
Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA
(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org The NSR is sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu