FAITH-FILLED LIVING | SWEET TREASURES | SIMPLE PLEASURES

Sep 3, 2007

Blending In?

Yesterday's Great Escape section of the Whittier Daily News showed a header that read:

BLENDING IN

"To avoid looking like an ugly American tourist in Paris, avoid shorts, sneakers, fanny packs and baseball caps with your hometeam logo. Above all, leave your comfortable but brightly colored Crocs at home."

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When I read the above snippet, I must say that I found it a bit unsettling, and not because I own 2 pair of Crocs. For starters, I don't find Crocs (funky gardening clogs) to be a huge fashion statement, but they are cushy, comfy, and fun. I don't wear most of the other items mentioned either. I'm sure that we all have images etched firmly into our minds of tourist sightings that elaborated far beyond the above checklist. No, what bothered me was something else...

I walked away from the article and then picked it up about 2 hours later. Two things jumped out at me: "an ugly American tourist in Paris," and "blending in." I am well aware of the differing sentiments regarding Americans. Yet, my own community has undergone enormous ethnic changes in the last 50 years, and I frequently see people wearing the traditional garments from their native lands. They don't seem bothered and they're not trying to blend in.

Obviously, American tourists don't all dress the same. Neither do they dress identically here. So my question is this; why must we blend in to avoid being stereotyped as ugly? Our own tourists and immigrants are allowed to be themselves. Should we be apologizing for ourselves elsewhere? Just a thought...

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Amen - we need to be ourselves. Having been to Paris 3 times, I find that many Parisians wear black. The Ugly American is the one who would be ugly here, too. Loud and expecting everything to be his or her own way. We need to treat every person we meet as one who is special and is loved.

Anonymous said...

KJ - forgot to sign. Blessings...Carol Drey

KJ said...

Well said, Carol. It all boils down to attitude and treating others as we would have them treat us!

KJ

Sharon said...

Well said once again KJ!

ShabbyInTheCity said...

I'll never forget my trips to NYC and how I stuck out like a sore thumb in my colorful attire when everyone else was in black. I'm afraid I won't know what to do if and when I finally get to go to Paris. Do you think they will know what y'all means???

KJ said...

{{GRIN}} It sounds like a few people need a little more of "y'all"! And, how surprising that YOU would wear colorful attire.

Thanks Miss Shabby!
KJ

MOM said...

I resent being referred to as the "Ugly American". The term actually refers more to an attitude than it does to one's attire. Though one's choice of attire can certainly represent an attutude. On tours anywhere I will be the one wearing my comfortable Crocs (I very seldom have found a more comfortable pair of shoes for long walks and standing around) and my fanny pack (keeps my hands free and is easier to protect against the pickpockets--of which there are many in Europe). If etiquette dictated a particular uniorm for the day, than I would dress accordingly. Otherwise I would dress comfortably so that I can enjoy the beauty, history, and/or statement of the surroundings that I have traveled a long distance to see.

Foremost though, I treat and greet the people as I want to be treated. I want to know about their environment, their way of life, and their interests in and impressions of people in the rest of the world. I want them to know that the "Ugly American" conduct is not representative of the majority of Americans. I also want them to know that I appreciate their attempts to speak our language especially since I am so defficient in my ability to speak theirs.

I find the suggestion to travelers that they must dress in the same manner as the populace in order to blend in with the residents of a foreign country to be a pompous and discriminatory statement. That is one more reason why I am not anxious to visit Paris though I understand the people that live in the countryside of France are much more gracious to Americans. Every country should welcome the traveler and make them feel comfortable. I hope the traveler will always feel comfortable in America.

KJ said...

I was eager to hear what my Mom had to say since she has traveled to Europe-- and I know she brought her Crocs. Thanks, Mom, for sharing your experience and feelings on this topic. It's good to hear that I wasn't the only one troubled by the comments of this newspaper.

I am looking forward to traveling in Europe someday...

KJ

Sweet Remembrance said...

Love my Crocs...never leave home without em!
Priscilla

Sheila said...

I'm one of the few people I reckon who doesn't own a pair of crocs, but if I wanted to wear them in Europe I dang well would. But the wisdom I've found in blending in is that you will become a less visible target for pickpockets and other petty criminals who routinely scour public transportation and other venues for the vulnerable tourist. I've only traveled to Italy and admit to trying to adjust my clothing choices. When in Rome. . .

IslandGirl4Ever2 said...

Hello KJ,

I must add some light to this post! Here in France
(Paris area) CROCS are the RAGE!!!! I never liked this plastic variety of bulky looking shoes.. but I actually own a pair of pink plastic jellies... par contre. Parisians are picking up on this hot American trend that's been around for several years now (in the US, that is).. and you can see Crocs in store windows... even printed Crocs... and in display windows at local pharmacies in our town and in Paris... I think the French LOVVVVVVVVVE American trends.. the kids all dress like hip hop/rap stars here in France, too!! -- ciao, Leesa

IslandGirl4Ever2 said...

Oh and PS... I am a So Cal. girl thru and thru and I wear very colorful clothes ALL the time.. I don't EVEN like to wear black cuz I had worn it to funerals and I have bad memories about wearing black... I wear my colorful sketchers and brightly colored Abercrombie & Fitch sweats ALL over the Paris streets.. Sometimes I even wear my Old Navy polar fleece pjs - I bought them last year in NY... and proudly flash them in the streets of Paris cuz it's COOOOOLLLD here!! -- Leesa

KJ said...

Leesa! Amen sister! It's wonderful to see that you didn't leave your fanciful expression at the French customs counter!

KJ