It is a strange thing!
On the one hand I am often being recognized by others in my 'host country' (Turkey) as a 'foreigner', on the other hand I have the kind of looks that also seems to blend in for other locals, who do not (initially) seem to recognise me as a foreigner.
When recognised as such you feel the looks, and you often literally hear them say when you pass/behind your back 'yabancı' litterally meaning 'foreigner' (how lovely
), they aften assume sice you are 'foreign' you do not have a clue what is been said, so sometimes I might hear more of their comments (often based on curiosity, but at times very offending, very rude, have had some really bad experiences, luckily isolated incidents). It also happened many times that people have been staring at me and my kids, you really get the feeling like you're 'screened' head to toe. Not very pleasant. Sometimes downright funny, I mean it is so over the top that I cannot but laugh about it.
Really, I do have the kind of looks (light brown hair, pale but not ivory skin, with freckles, small posture) that is also found among Turkish locals, Turks are really a blend of all kinds of looks, from fair-skinned to dark skinned, from blonde over red to brown and black (and grey :-), there really is no stereotype that can apply to his people, nor as one could generally apply to all inhabitants of other countries. E.g. My ILs initially expected a blonde, blue-eyed bride, and my hair (dyed) and eyes were olive black :-)!
I must say I do not really like to be addressed just because of my 'foreignness' which makes me a curiosity, or being named a 'foreigner/stranger', the last thing also because it is an impolite/rude or oven racist attitude in my country of origin (Belgium) to call or address someone as such. Sometimes it feels really unpleasant or weird. I'd just like to blend in an be addressed because of who I am or because I'm a customer or so. Luckily that also happens enough :-).
My husband is really dark skinned, and has pitch black hair.
Kids are a blend, they got their dark eyes from mom though not from dad :-). The eldest is dark skinned, a bit 'furry' like dad :-), and his hair colour has changed from black at birth to blondish to medium brown. In Belgium he 'jumps out' because of his draker/different looks, in Turkey he is specially noticed as well because here too he looks 'different'. The youngest is fair skinned, has medium blonde hair, and really is noticed in Turkey, while he may blend in more in Belgium. Let's check that out when in a month we go visit my motherland.
It is often fun when people 'like' our kids, Turkish people are generally really really warm towards children and it happens so often that a shopkeeper or waiter or passer-by wants to hold your child and show it off to others. I wouşldn't let them when they were just a baby and/or in a difficult mood, but now they're older I enjoy these encounters most of the time. And it happens even more when your kids look a bit different, so it happened quite a lot to us. Few minutes of hands-free shopping, or a pleasant opportunity to finally finish your own meal at a restaurant :-). My kids are very extraverted, have no fear of strangers, so they mostly like such attention. It also depends on HOW people respond to them, there is a big difference in their reaction when they really get positive attention or when it is about strangers 'just wanting to touch them' or 'wanting to kiss them', stroke the hair and saying 'you're cute' and/or pinch their cheeks, then they are not so happy at all! They are too young to notice people staring at them, but they more often stare at me then them so that's ok. Their reaction may be more annoyed when they get a little older though. As a teenager they may either hate to look different, or love it.
If it really happens TOO often on one and the same day, it DOES get annoying.
I also just try to explain things to my kids as they are, in words they understand, about all kinds of topics and also this one. They deserve to get the thruth, in a way they can understand/deal with it.
My father was driving my baby in a stroller in Belgium and he encountered two olive-skinned muslim girls who looked at the baby, then at my father, then again at the baby, again at my father, and then he saw them say something, giggle and shake their heads. We thought that quite funny. He often happens to take out two boys of a Moroccan neighbour too, I am sure that gives strange looks as well!
Both in the İstanbul Bazaar and in Belgium me and my husband (no kids yet) have been even called Spanish hahaaaaaaa - funfunfun!
I really wonder if ever someone will ask if my kids are adopted, but I do think they look enough like me. But even then, I'll just explain they're mixed, why being offended while adoption is such a good/wonderful thing?
It is good to look at the fun sides of things.
Maybe I would say differently if I would live in a society where blending in isn't possible at all with my and my kids looks. That must be wary and/or scary at times!