Inappropriate Comments

My family is transracial, so sadly I am used to unsolicited, inappropriate comments from strangers. During a recent trip to the hairdresser, as my daughter sat in the swivel chair to have her hair trimmed, the Singaporean hairdresser turned to me and said, “She swims a lot?”

“Yeah, she loves swimming,” I said, assuming she was going to educate me about the ill-effects of chlorine on hair. That would be the appropriate subject, one would think, seeing were at a hair salon.

“Too much swimming,” the hairdresser continued. “Makes her skin too dark.” She pointed to my daughter’s beautiful caramel arms.

I am used to the bias against dark skin in Asia, where women drive around wearing white gloves up to their elbows to avoid getting a tan, and sun visors the size of UFOs on their heads, so I took the hairdresser’s comment in my stride. It was a comment from another stranger later that day that had me stumped, and it had nothing to do with skin colour or race.

caramel_colour_skin

“Your children?” The Singaporean woman nodded towards my kids.

“Yes,” I smiled, ready for a dressing down in regards to their rowdiness. They seemed to have mistaken the supermarket trolley for a dodgem car.

“Girl or boy?” She pointed to my youngest.

“Girl,” I said.

“She looks like a boy.”

Well, that’s one way to give a 4-year-old a complex.

I admit, my youngest daughter is still struggling in the hair growth department. But seriously?!

I grabbed my daughter’s hand and marched off.