Yesterday I took the lift up to my office with 2 other cleaning ladies. They were quiet the whole trip until the doors opened. Then one of them turned to me and said (in Malay)
“You look like a Japanese!”
The other one immediately countered with:
“No! You look like a Korean!”
I was bemused because I am neither. I am a 3rd generation Malaysian of Chinese heritage. From what we could trace, the line has been pretty unbroken so it always amuses me to have people mistake me for a Japanese (in the past) or a Korean (presently).
I think the perception is such because I’m quite fair, and I do a full face of makeup every day. Lately, I’ve learned to finally apply mascara that doesn’t make me look like a panda in 2 hours and which opens up my eyes a lot more giving me the impression of having larger eyes thanÂ I really do. From what I see and have been told (having never been to Japan or Korea yet) the Korean and Japanese ladies place a lot of emphasis on their looks and take great pains to put on their makeup everyday. I read somewhere once that a Japanese woman would wake up a full 2 hours earlier than she has to, just to make sure her “face” is put on for the day. Its impressive to me because I’d rather spend the 2 hours sleeping!
By contrast, many women on the street here don’t bother too much with makeup. Many office ladies I have seen only use powder and some lipstick and that’s it.
So I think that’s part of the reason why I’m being mistaken for a Japanese/Korean everywhere. The other is probably due to my rather wide face that is reminiscent of Korean lineage. All pretty fun until traders try to fleece me because they think I’m a tourist!!
So, do people confuse you with someone form another heritage?