Cultural profiling

I play a game when we are traveling.  Every time I see a bleach blond with sky-high heels, too much makeup, dressed like a hooker I say “Russian mail-order bride”. To which my husband almost always calls me a racist. Russians are not a race, so I refuse this label but I will admit to cultural profiling. No judgements, just the cold hard facts.

If you see a petite someone, smartly dressed, smoking hand-rolled cigarettes. He must be French. Same description but instead filter cigarettes. He’s Italian. Cliché – yes, but they became clichés because they were  consistently true.

You can start with the shoes, they will usually put you on the right continent.

Italians: always high quality, fashionable leather shoes and usually dressed warmer than one would expect for 30 ºC.

Germans: look like they are off on an expedition.

Scandinavians: preppy,sporty or both. Usually half-naked or at least in comparison to local population.

English: again explorer clothing such as wide-brimmed hats sometimes combined with mosquito nets.

Americans: Casual clothing or expedition style with high-tech fabric variation. Most often with  jogging shoes. **Notable exceptions are extreme trends like the TEVA, CROCS and recently TOMS shoes, which make American-spotting super easy.

In the picture above: the Italian gentleman on the bicycle looks to be in the same age group as the American. Now I ask you which man commands more respect? Which one would you want to be from a Super Power?  Sadly, I would expect that they both have the same socioeconomic status.

Care to try your hand at cultural profiling?

Guess where these three are from?

5 responses to “Cultural profiling

  1. Very funny, but sandals with socks nearly always points to a Brit. I was intrigued by your comment that Russians are not a race, what would you call someone from Russia then? lol. Great post enjoyed reading. Greetings from a Brit in Thailand. K

    • Thanks Keith. Nice to know that my blog can reach all the way to Thailand. You must be enjoying yourself in that nice tropical paradise with all those cheeky women you are writing about. In my experience they are always German and I know this because they never say “Pardon me” when they push me aside in the queue. But now I am very intrigued, what race do you think the Russians are?

  2. Observant eye. Americans also wear t-shirts with their college or favorite sports team. What about the French? Or Russians?

    • Agreed! Ask an American if they went to the school they are advertising and they will most likely say “I know someone who goes there” because that many people could not possibly go to Stanford.

      Good question – We spent a holiday in Terracina, Italy and there was an entire tour group with nouveau riche Russians. Some of them dressed like they did on the Sopranos but I think that is just because they had been shopping in Italy. Shiny silk suits don’t go unnoticed by me.

      We are off to France now so I will keep my eyes peeled so I can make sweeping generalizations when I get back. 😉

  3. LOL, Germans are always wearing sandals with socks! Or they look like they’re going hiking 🙂

    Race, ethnicity, nationally, and religion are all ways to categories people. Living in Europe it is defiantly easy to develop prejudices against certain groups especially if you have consistently bad experiences with them.

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