Why do they have to stare, and stare, and stare??? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 30 Old 06-18-2010, 01:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I can't stop mulling over a recent trip experience, and think this is the perfect place to vent and get support

I'm white, dh is Chinese/Malaysian, and we have a 2 year old daughter. Recently we went to visit his parents in PA. We've never gone down there, and wanted to see the restaurant they own.
I've gotten all the rude comments, people asking "where did you got her?", or "did you adopt her?", or "wow she looks nothing like you!". It's really annoying. I've also gotten plenty of looks, not when I'm out with my daughter, or even when I'm out with DH, but when we're all out together. It seems lots of people think it's ok to date another race, but not to marry or reproduce with them. I always wonder what people are thinking when they're staring, but also wonder if I'm just paranoid and think people are looking at race more than they actually are.
Well on our trip, we/I got stared at so much that I was ready to start confronting the staring strangers by the end of it. First, at my in-law's restaurant, my inlaw's wanted to show DD to a bunch of customers, which was nice, but when they met me I could tell some of them were really surprised and then kept staring at me while they were eating. I could hear a few of them talking about it while they stared, it was really annoying. Then over the next few days, we visited China town in Philidelphia and NYC. I love going into China town to shop and eat real Asian cusine, which is so good. We went with my father-in-law both times. Everywhere we went, it was like everyone in the street turned and watched us go by. And it wasn't like when someone is staring and you make eye contact and they smile and turn away. No, it was a cold stare and when you make eye contact they still keep staring. I didn't imagine it either, in fact, I wasn't looking for it or even expecting it.
I must really stand out I guess, I didn't see any mixed race Asian couples while we were there, which surprised me because it was the city. And I'm not just white, I'm as white as you can get, with blue eyes and platinum blond hair. I suddenly felt like I had committed a crime in the eyes of everyone around me by marrying an Asian. It really made me mad. I usually deal with annoying reactions from white people who probably don't realize how rude they're being. I thought I'd feel more at home in the city, and I was unpleasantly surprised. My inlaws have never had an issue with me being white so I wasn't expecting negativity from Asians. Guess I'm a bit naive still.
I don't know what to think or how I'm supposed to respond when people just stare like that and don't say anything. I don't get a chance to use any of my comebacks

Has anyone else dealt with anything similar?
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#2 of 30 Old 06-18-2010, 08:48 PM
 
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Thankfully here we never get any odd looks. People do a double take seeing me wearing a baby especially when I'm by myself, but we thankfully live in one of the most diverse cities in the country so there's not a lot of turned heads for that reason.

The best comeback to staring is probably your indifference. If someone thinks something is unusual, just continue acting as if nothing is unusual at all, because reality is, nothing is unusual at all, eh? :-) Cheers.

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#3 of 30 Old 06-18-2010, 09:52 PM
 
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Has anyone else dealt with anything similar?
I have not experienced this myself but I am so sorry you did! It always saddens and angers me to hear these kind of stories.
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#4 of 30 Old 06-19-2010, 05:53 AM
 
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is your FIL well known in his community ?
==> maybe people are staring at HIM rather than you (as in "who would have thought that it would happen in that family too .... ?") , maybe they feel betrayed by him/his son rather than are making a jugement on you ....

it's the situation that they are not familiar nor comfortable with, not really the actual persons (since they don't even know you)

you might be amongst the precursors now but in 2 or 3 generations' time
MOST OF the population will have a mixed heritage anyway

It's hard not to feel "picked on" unjustly
... and to act indifferent (as PP suggested, good advice though)
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#5 of 30 Old 06-19-2010, 08:56 PM
 
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oh yes.

dh is mexican american and lots of him family goes back and forth between here and mexico so there is always someone new at family gatherings. my family is from mexico too but i think im like, the third generation here so im pretty much american

anyways, i dont speak spanish, except for very basic words and random words that ive picked up here and there, and i can always tell during get togethers when THE WHOLE FAMILY is talking about me. and i mean, the whole darn family. its usually when my dh is away from the table or in another room and sure enough, as soon as he returns, the whole atmosphere is different and happy and friendly.

i can only imagine what theyre saying, "why did he marry her, she cant even cook." lol

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#6 of 30 Old 06-19-2010, 09:02 PM
 
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If some of the starers were actually from China, it's not really considered rude there to stare at "unusual" strangers. At least not last I heard.
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#7 of 30 Old 06-20-2010, 12:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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oh yes.

dh is mexican american and lots of him family goes back and forth between here and mexico so there is always someone new at family gatherings. my family is from mexico too but i think im like, the third generation here so im pretty much american

anyways, i dont speak spanish, except for very basic words and random words that ive picked up here and there, and i can always tell during get togethers when THE WHOLE FAMILY is talking about me. and i mean, the whole darn family. its usually when my dh is away from the table or in another room and sure enough, as soon as he returns, the whole atmosphere is different and happy and friendly.

i can only imagine what theyre saying, "why did he marry her, she cant even cook." lol
Lol... ya I can't speak cantonese, but I often feel like I'm being talked about when DH isn't in the room. I really want to learn the language, much of the reason being so I can understand what is being said!


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If some of the starers were actually from China, it's not really considered rude there to stare at "unusual" strangers. At least not last I heard.
When I was in Europe I noticed people do the same thing, so I'd be inclined to agree. When you catch guys over there checking you out, if you catch their eye they keep doing it, and don't break eye contact. But I was told if you keep eye contact it basically means you're a whore and you're looking to hook up with them. This is a little different I think. Lol
I do think it's a cultural thing, at least in part. Still offensive though.
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#8 of 30 Old 06-20-2010, 10:42 AM
 
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I think it's probably a little everything. Extra attention from strangers, plus extra sensitivity or defensiveness on your part.

We've lived in PA since before ds1 was born. Out here in the "boonies", we're definitely different enough to catch the eye. In the city, people noticed me/the kids but interracial families were all over the place, and so it wasn't as odd.

There's definitely some negativity hanging around here. However, living here I've come to discover that stares/comments are not ill-intended. Sometimes they're just ignorant (adoption questions), most often the comments we get are 100% positive. Interracial families are just not common here, and it's a new experience for a lot of people. If we can give them a positive first impression of this new reality, with pleasant, factual responses, so much the better.

Also, many people simply find multi-racial children particularly attractive to the eye, maybe because of their differences from the mass of humanity around them. I'd be willing to bet at least some of those staring and whispering were saying "What a beautiful baby".

As for the Asian side of things--I could be wrong but in my observation it's not terribly common for Asian men to marry white/American women. Increasing, but the reverse is what people are more used to. Rude, yes, but you can't really know what people are thinking unless they say it straight out. When cultures meet, somtimes intent and perception of intent are different. One has to step very carefully when judging the motivation of others.
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#9 of 30 Old 06-20-2010, 11:24 AM
 
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As for the Asian side of things--I could be wrong but in my observation it's not terribly common for Asian men to marry white/American women. Increasing, but the reverse is what people are more used to.
I think that might be it, too. We live in NYC. Sometimes when we're out, it seems like half the families are Asian mom-white Dad-kids, but we're ALWAYS the only white mom-Asian dad-kid family. There's actually another family in our apartment building with an Asian dad and a white mom, and I secretly want to high-five them every time we see each other.

Anyway, I'm sorry people are staring, and that you feel singled out because of your family's ethnic makeup. It's a horrible feeling.

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#10 of 30 Old 06-20-2010, 01:40 PM
 
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I'm white and DH is Vietnamese. I was the first to be a real (legal) part of the family iykwim. Now many (like 10 of the 35 or more) cousins have or plan to marry different ethnicities. Anyway it took them awhile. We'd get stares in Little Siagon (CA) but when confident then people just shrug and go on their way. We went 10 years without kids. Now people stare again but always comment on how we have the most beautiful children. Often with suprise in their voice! I guess neither DH nor myself are that great looking...
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#11 of 30 Old 06-20-2010, 02:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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As for the Asian side of things--I could be wrong but in my observation it's not terribly common for Asian men to marry white/American women. Increasing, but the reverse is what people are more used to. Rude, yes, but you can't really know what people are thinking unless they say it straight out. When cultures meet, somtimes intent and perception of intent are different. One has to step very carefully when judging the motivation of others.
Yeah, I've read statistics and the lowest numbers of mixed race marriages are white/Asian, but the white woman marrying an Asian man is much less common than the reverse.

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I think that might be it, too. We live in NYC. Sometimes when we're out, it seems like half the families are Asian mom-white Dad-kids, but we're ALWAYS the only white mom-Asian dad-kid family. There's actually another family in our apartment building with an Asian dad and a white mom, and I secretly want to high-five them every time we see each other.
Lol ya when I was in NYC i don't really see any mixed race couples that are white and Asian. Oddly, in chinatown I saw a lot of mixed blacl/white couples, but no asian/white. Maybe I'd see more even diversity if I didn't stay right in the heart of Chinatown! Another thought I had about the staring is if new immigrants land first in the city, maybe that's why I get more looks there. It must be like a circus to someone coming from an Asian country where there are (I'm just guessing) virtually no mixed marriages.

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Now people stare again but always comment on how we have the most beautiful children. Often with suprise in their voice! I guess neither DH nor myself are that great looking...
I've gotten that too! Actually I've also had acquaintances say things to me about being surprised my daughter is gorgeous even though she has mostly Asian features, or make comments about how I'm way hotter than DH is, but somehow managed to produce a gorgeous baby! I get so mad because people I know often make the worst comments and have no clue how insulting they're being to DH. Just because you're not attracted to Asian men, doesn't mean I'm married to a goat! It's MY preference, and I think we look awesome together
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#12 of 30 Old 06-20-2010, 11:50 PM
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My DH is Asian and I am white. We've been together since we were teenagers 20 years ago. The thing that actually gets the most comments is the fact that I am 6 inches taller than he is. The next thing that gets questions is the difference in our religions, because I take our sons to church without DH. Few people have inquired about our ethnic differences, but I know exactly what the OP means by the stares. When we're out together, I sometimes make eye contact with a passerby who will then look at DH, then at our kids, then back at me, with a puzzled/surprised look. I can literally see the 1 + 1 = 2 going through the passerby's head. The few times that a person has made a comment after giving us that look, it has been overwhelmingly positive. The funniest questions are from the cashiers at grocery stores, "Um, is this all together?" ...as if a man and woman with kids loading food on the counter together might somehow be separate. One grocery store cashier got excited and told us about her Irish-German mom & Chinese dad, and said that DS1 looked just like her brother at that age. I think most people are just curious and nosy about multiethnic families, meaning no harm...I guess that's what America is all about, right?

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#13 of 30 Old 06-21-2010, 03:15 AM
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When I was in Europe I noticed people do the same thing, so I'd be inclined to agree. When you catch guys over there checking you out, if you catch their eye they keep doing it, and don't break eye contact. But I was told if you keep eye contact it basically means you're a whore and you're looking to hook up with them. This is a little different I think. Lol
I do think it's a cultural thing, at least in part. Still offensive though.
Do you realise you just pigeon holed over 800 million people in 50+ countries into one blanket statement of behaviour?

Now that's offensive

"Custom will reconcile people to any atrocity."
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#14 of 30 Old 06-21-2010, 11:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I can literally see the 1 + 1 = 2 going through the passerby's head.
I don't like it, but I'm definitely amused when I can see the mental process as it unfolds like that!

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Do you realise you just pigeon holed over 800 million people in 50+ countries into one blanket statement of behaviour?

Now that's offensive
Lol ya I thought that as I was typing it. Guess what I'm trying to say it that I've experienced it in EVERY culture I've been in contact with outside of America. So maybe America is the only place we think it's rude to stare like that. Of course, there's some of every culture here too, so 1st generation people here would still do it, as would people still immersed in their culture, as I experienced in Chinatown.
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#15 of 30 Old 06-21-2010, 05:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Do you realise you just pigeon holed over 800 million people in 50+ countries into one blanket statement of behaviour?

Now that's offensive
On second though, this made me realize something else... Ya know, we talk about our mixed race relationships as, for example (in my case), Chinese and white. Well I'm not just white, I'm actually French. I always wished I could identify as French instead of white. But in general, "whites" are mixes of several European races. That's why the whole issue of "mixed race" relationships and our "mixed" children is so annoying, most of us ARE "mixed race", it's just somehow not a problem or different unless you cross with someone who is black or Asian. And you have the same situation within Asian and black cultures.
I've heard family stories of people being disowned because a French girl wanted to be with an English guy or stuff like that. So it used to be an issue I guess but now we're just all "white" if we're European. I'm sure Europe is not the only continent that has gone through this progression either.
I don't think I'm wording it very well, but I hope that made sense
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#16 of 30 Old 06-22-2010, 06:26 AM
 
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it does make sense (well, I'm French too & married to a Brit !)

+ if you look at borders in Europe ....quite a few of them did change place over the years => in one part of my family tree, quite a few of the men who were living near what is now a border with Germany .... were called "Louis" & then if you go back a little further, men were called "ludwig" which is Louis in german .... ok, so I'm French, now but if you go back enough I must have a bit of german stock too .... I mean at the time of Charlemagne, my area was not even French ...

+ I learned recently that one of my grand-mothers managed to escape war time trouble relating to race because the german occupier only went back so many generations in order to track jewish ancestry ... and she had some just beyond the cutting line => and that came out when my sister related some heated discussion she had with her northern african husband when she pointed out to him that anyway, his own children somewhow had some jewish blood in them even if very diluted ....

so the whole concept of race, really .....

it might not "look it" for people who "seem" white from the outside but unless you live in a remote montain area where people never marry someone very far away .... we are all quite a mixed bag anyway ....
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#17 of 30 Old 06-22-2010, 07:26 AM
 
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eeek im so sorry

I TOTALLY do that, i find multi-racial kiddos so darned beautiful - exotic and unusual, absolutely gorgeous blend of cutures. soo many times i've found myself staring thinking - wow you're so cute and not realising at alll that i may be causing offense in the UK where it's pretty much the norm to have mixed race families - in fact where i live i'd say 30-40% of children are mixed race. mostly indian/caucasian or black/caucasian. tis really no biggie

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#18 of 30 Old 06-25-2010, 02:33 PM
 
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I almost cried when I read your post because I know how it feels to be stared at everytime you're in public because you have a multicultural family! My husband is from Mexico and I am a very white redhead. I am currently living in Mexico as we wait for my huband to get his visa. I hate leaving the house because the people stare, point, and make loud comments. The women, in particular, have been unfriendly. It has been very uncomfortable and stressful, to the point that my husband worries about someone putting "the evil eye" on the baby! His family have been wonderful, for the most part (except for his step-grandmother who refused to give her shrimp tamale recipe to an American). Anyway, I just was not prepared for the blatant stares and disapproval. I feel far less uncomfortable in my ultra-conservative state back in the US!

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#19 of 30 Old 06-25-2010, 05:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I almost cried when I read your post because I know how it feels to be stared at everytime you're in public because you have a multicultural family! My husband is from Mexico and I am a very white redhead. I am currently living in Mexico as we wait for my huband to get his visa. I hate leaving the house because the people stare, point, and make loud comments. The women, in particular, have been unfriendly. It has been very uncomfortable and stressful, to the point that my husband worries about someone putting "the evil eye" on the baby! His family have been wonderful, for the most part (except for his step-grandmother who refused to give her shrimp tamale recipe to an American). Anyway, I just was not prepared for the blatant stares and disapproval. I feel far less uncomfortable in my ultra-conservative state back in the US!
That's awful! At least when I get it the worst, I'm in the city for the day. I couldn't imagine living in it every day!
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#20 of 30 Old 06-26-2010, 05:02 AM
 
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omg i live in the middle east lebanon, and i am soo white american, my hubs is from palestine but raised in lebanon, and i always get looks, i am muslim covered like everyone, but as soon as they find out i know zero arabic and i am american i get the looks ooo why is she living here and why did Ahmad marry her, then they find out i spend zero time at home back in usa, cause i am out playing and teaching my kids, they really turn their heads, then they findout i dont cook that often, and i dont clean every 4 mins like they do, they really turn there heads in shame, and yep they talk about me and i know it, just cant understand it just yet.

and i get the looks like why in the hell is this american white girl living in lebanon?

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#21 of 30 Old 06-27-2010, 04:07 PM
 
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If it makes you feel any better, my husband and I are both white and we still get stares when we're out in public together with our daughter.

Of course, we're both redheads, with the same shade of red hair, very similar blue eyes, and of course, the pale, freckled skin. And for whatever reason, people assume that two redheads together must be biologically related. When we were dating, I even overheard people saying how disgusting they thought it was.

Our daughter has the same shade of hair as us, and has my blue eyes. We've gotten some curious and even some dirty looks.
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#22 of 30 Old 07-12-2010, 09:04 PM
 
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OP, i know about the stares too!
I lived in Peru for 2 years. The average height for adults, male or female, is right around 5 feet tall, and I'm 5'7 and a big girl.. plus white.. i have medium to dark brown hair but that is considered blond in a country where jet black hair is normal.. plus I have green eyes.

I got stared at CONSTANTLY. I even had kids follow me around and then hide when I would turn around. it was ANNOYING!!!!
and then I met DH who has very dark skin, hair and eyes. We used to get REALLY stared at.
We live in the states now and I don't honestly notice any looks. But we will be visiting peru soon with DS and I am curious to see if we get even MORE stares!

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#23 of 30 Old 07-17-2010, 10:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Madi - wow that sound annoying! We'll be visiting Malaysia, where DH was born, in about a year once he gets his citizenship, I'm already thinking about how I'll probably be stared at even more. I love visiting new countries, but this will be the first time in an Asian country as the only white person in a group of Asians. I'm hoping if I can learn the basics of the language then I'll feel better knowing what's being said at least. Or maybe that'll make it worse
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#24 of 30 Old 08-16-2010, 04:51 PM
 
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Becuase they cannot believe how gorgeous your baby is
My nearly 3 year old has tightly curled blong hair that gets lots of comments, and I know it's just because it's not familiar to them. Especially in more monoracial areas.

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#25 of 30 Old 08-17-2010, 12:16 AM
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Because they cannot believe how gorgeous your baby is
yeah that.
lol, I am Asian and DH is English/German/Irish. And we get stared at constantly when we are in any sort of Chinatown, etc.
And b/c I am Asian, then I know it's a compliment. The Asian culture does emphasize politeness, and respect. But in different ways than the American culture. So... just to stare is not a problem. But to show someone the bottom of your foot is very offensive.
One also does not point out things that cannot be changed. Like if someone had 4 fingers, or if a child had cerebral palsy, then the Asian culture considers it shameful, and one should not stare at them. B/c it would embarrass that person by acknowledging what is obviously a "defect." (Although, of course... right?, we all know that CP is not shameful.) Or at least they would stare, but in a kind- of- trying- to hide it stare. Not a full - in your face stare.
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#26 of 30 Old 08-17-2010, 02:33 AM
 
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I seem to have missed this thread the first time around, but since it's back...

I wonder if there is more to the staring than the mixed marriage. I'm very obviously not Asian (I'm a pale freckled blue eyed redhead,) but Dh and I never get stared at in NYC's China town, or even over in Flushing. We never go to Philly's China town, just the Philly suburbs, but we never get stared at there either. We regularly go to Asian super markets and such with no issues as well.

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Originally Posted by GoGoGirl View Post
I think that might be it, too. We live in NYC. Sometimes when we're out, it seems like half the families are Asian mom-white Dad-kids, but we're ALWAYS the only white mom-Asian dad-kid family. There's actually another family in our apartment building with an Asian dad and a white mom, and I secretly want to high-five them every time we see each other.
I'm surprised there are so few in the city, there are lots of us out in the suburbs. Just counting on my fingers, I know the same # of Asian-American huband/European-American wife couples as I do Asian-American wife/European-American husband couples in our age range. Though when it comes to older couples it is less of an equal split.

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#27 of 30 Old 08-19-2010, 12:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by p.s View Post
yeah that.
lol, I am Asian and DH is English/German/Irish. And we get stared at constantly when we are in any sort of Chinatown, etc.
And b/c I am Asian, then I know it's a compliment. The Asian culture does emphasize politeness, and respect. But in different ways than the American culture. So... just to stare is not a problem. But to show someone the bottom of your foot is very offensive.
One also does not point out things that cannot be changed. Like if someone had 4 fingers, or if a child had cerebral palsy, then the Asian culture considers it shameful, and one should not stare at them. B/c it would embarrass that person by acknowledging what is obviously a "defect." (Although, of course... right?, we all know that CP is not shameful.) Or at least they would stare, but in a kind- of- trying- to hide it stare. Not a full - in your face stare.
Interesting... good point and I never thought of it that way.


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Originally Posted by eepster View Post
I seem to have missed this thread the first time around, but since it's back...

I wonder if there is more to the staring than the mixed marriage. I'm very obviously not Asian (I'm a pale freckled blue eyed redhead,) but Dh and I never get stared at in NYC's China town, or even over in Flushing. We never go to Philly's China town, just the Philly suburbs, but we never get stared at there either. We regularly go to Asian super markets and such with no issues as well.



I'm surprised there are so few in the city, there are lots of us out in the suburbs. Just counting on my fingers, I know the same # of Asian-American huband/European-American wife couples as I do Asian-American wife/European-American husband couples in our age range. Though when it comes to older couples it is less of an equal split.
We definitely get more stares in Philly, no idea why, but we also get some in NYC Chinatown and Flushing. DH jokes it's because everyone's trying to figure out how he got such a hot wife, which may actually be partly true. I personally think he's about as hot as I am, but I know a lot of people who hugely disagree, so maybe there's something to it. I really feel that I get more attention specifically in Chinatown with DH and DD... I guess it could be for more reasons than the multi racial thing and I just see it that way because it's on my mind.
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#28 of 30 Old 08-21-2010, 02:49 PM
 
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DD and I are white, DH is from Iran and our twin boys are fairly light skinned AA with blue eyes. Honestly, when we are all out together, you can see the wheels in people's heads turning as they try to figure it out. As DD says, "we're a spectacle!"

I've noticed that here, although there's a fairly large Middle Eastern population there really don't seem to be many with white spouses. Oh and I'm taller than DH too, so that doesn't really help with the blending in either...

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#29 of 30 Old 08-21-2010, 04:02 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Smylingeyz View Post
I'm as white as you can get, with blue eyes and platinum blond hair. I suddenly felt like I had committed a crime in the eyes of everyone around me by marrying an Asian.
I really have no idea. But, is it possible just that you look different? Not that they think you shouldn't marry an Asian? I live in a State that has mostly people with darker skin, eyes and hair. I tend to notice (I hope I'm not rude about it) light skinned blondes. It just stands out here.

I went to a state in the midwest. I was told by my friend I was staring.... Actually she said "CLose your mouth, you look like in idiot". But, she meant stop staring at all the pale people.

ETA... Now that I think about it, you are probably right. I'd know if I were getting disapproving looks too. I'm sorry people are so rude about it. I hope I remember this in the future. I'd hate to be one of those people. I'm sure I have been in the past though.
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#30 of 30 Old 08-22-2010, 08:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by nextcommercial View Post
I really have no idea. But, is it possible just that you look different? Not that they think you shouldn't marry an Asian? I live in a State that has mostly people with darker skin, eyes and hair. I tend to notice (I hope I'm not rude about it) light skinned blondes. It just stands out here.

I went to a state in the midwest. I was told by my friend I was staring.... Actually she said "CLose your mouth, you look like in idiot". But, she meant stop staring at all the pale people.
Well, I definitely get more attention since I went platinum, but at the same time, it's not like I stand out in an odd way because it matches my complexion and look really well. But it's different when I'm with DH and DD. Basically it's prolonged staring by all different people as opposed to young guys checking out a hot blond. DH and I are on different ends of the color spectrum, and DD is right in the middle, so I understand it's less common to people especially in the rural, mostly-white area we're in, but I feel like we're a circus act to some people, when it really isn't that uncommon anymore.
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