One of the more recent terms to gain momentum is ‘bagel girl’, a term which refers to a woman with a “baby face and a glamorous (read, “curvy and mature”) body”. The idea of a girl who has a childlike face, while flaunting the sexualized body of an older woman, is certainly alarming on many levels, as the trend lends itself to the sexualisation of young girls.
My grandmother held me by my shoulders and scrutinized my face. Instead of commenting as she usually did about my height or how skinny I was, she said, “You got so dark!” Her face twisted to form a grimace as she nodded at my mother disapprovingly. My mother then proceeded to explain to her why I had become so dark as though she was pleading guilty to a crime before a judge in court. “We need to fix that,” my aunt remarked. By “that,” she meant my skin color; how she planned on “fixing” it, I was about to find out.
An interesting observation I have made is the mentality when it comes to money and commercial talent. In America spending has priority before saving. And When consumer spending is low the economy goes into recession. In Norway the shops are closed by law on Sundays. Commercials on TV were first allowed around 1990, and the volume is low and strictly regulated compared to the US and particularly New York. The "shop for the fun of it" mentality is not as great in Norway as in the US. I believe that in New York there is always someone after my money. There is an offer on each corner and the creativity of each hawker to get me to make a purchase is constant and enormous.
Photography is a dangerous sport. The convenience of iphones cameras, and rapid access to wifi and social media platforms means that many of us can discretely snap or upload images of anonymous strangers while we travel, usually with little thought to the subject’s privacy or personal space. With the immediacy of twitter and apps such as Instagram, we can distribute street photos in a snap, without any thought to how this image may be culturally inappropriate or perhaps degrading to the local people.
As a translator, the term monozukuri always causes me problems. It literally means “the making of things” but it encompasses aspects of craftsmanship, meticulousness, pride in the production process and an affinity for the creation of goods that are carefully considered and of the highest possible quality. Monozukuri also contains a sense of pride in a job well done and an affinity for vocation akin to a calling. It’s not just folks making things for a pay check. It’s people engaging in work that gives their working lives meaning.
Gangnam Style is stylistically or culturally grounded in Korean themes, and how it might be reflecting some of the social issues in modern Seoul life. Regardless of my own personal speculation and my loose contextualization, I would not encourage anybody to view ‘Gangnam Style’ too deeply or cynically. It is, after all, a catchy horse dance with a hypnotic beat. Let’s start dancing.
While bargaining in Istanbul's grand bazaar for a small, sand-colored kilim I was met with an argument from an elderly carpet dealer who told me he had to fly to Philadelphia for his leg surgery, lamenting the lower standard of local care and the cost of the trip. Didn't I think the carpet was worth what he asked?! Fearful of offending him or even of appearing ungrateful for healthcare in the U.S., I settled on a higher price. In retrospect, I would have not been pressured in the least.
To a foreigner, perhaps a North American foreigner especially, an exhibit on the Holocaust does not seem particularly different, current, or interesting. We’ve seen Holocaust museums before. European tourism bureaus already cater to history buffs of the Second World War and Holocaust memorials have long been established throughout Europe. France alone contains more than 40 different exhibits and museums on the genocide of the Jews. But “They Were Children” is different, and its story’s fundamental difference has been the source of great controversy and deep division in France since the war.
Perhaps, our cultural upbringing really does play more a role in our everyday lives than we want to admit and maybe we can never truly let them go like they are balloons our 5 year old self is clinging tightly to, afraid the wind might steal our treasured prize. Yet, there's always that moment when you contemplate what it would be like to let go and watch the balloons float away into the never ending azure sky; you cling tightly to the balloons into that moment and you cling so hard that your fingernails dig into your palms, but the pain fades away as one by one you uncurl your fingers.
Until I arrived, and soon realized that due to my being female, I had to accept a more close-mouthed and less aggressive persona than what I would in my native Australia. To get as much out of my Korean experience as possible, I would have to behave the way that Korean women were taught to behave: to respect men, to not question men, to behave coyly in front of men, and to not act as though I were smarter than any man. This was a tough blow to my feminist ego.
On my mother’s fifty-sixth birthday, I called her from Indonesia to wish her a happy birthday. “Oh, You remembered!” Her flattered response made it seem like I never remember her birthday. In the same call, I told her that I had received and accepted a fellowship that would keep me in Indonesia for one more year. My news is met with silence. I couldn't tell if she was taking time to gather her thoughts, or if the long-distance call had been dropped.
I’ve traveled more than some - I’ve traveled less than some. I didn’t start traveling across oceans until the end of high school, and so prior to landing at London-Heathrow airport with my mother at age 18, all of my travel time had been logged on family vacations across North America. In journeys both near and far, I’ve learned a few things about traveling, about myself, and about my values when traveling. I’ve compiled a few of them here as ten observations or rules. Together, they form a sort of ‘travel doctrine.’
"I am freakin' out. It is one week before departure. Quick! Write more articles so I can feel ready" That was the Facebook message I got from Bob, a friend and former student who is moving to Japan this week to start a teaching job. Bob knows some things about Japan in an academic way. He studied the language for a few years and took a culture class. He plays lots of video games. He has enough familiarity with Japan to know that he is getting himself into something vastly different from the life he currently knows. And now, with one week until take off, he is feeling a little anxious. So Bob, this one's for you.
As we enter the dark, small hut in the open-air museum, the guide points to a small, penned area in the corner. In it, thirteen light brown, fluffy little critters: cuyes. He explains that they are kept to keep those with bad energies, and thus an omen, out of the home. When faced with negative energy, or aura, the cuyes would respond in panic, making noises and fleeing away from the bearer of bad energy. This would signal to the homeowners that they needed to get rid of that person as soon as possible.
As an Australian woman living in Korea, many people often ask me if it is hard to live in Seoul as a foreigner. When I initially moved to Korea three years ago, I might have answered “yes”. These days, however, after having interacted with Korean culture on a more substantial level, I feel like any social problems I may face in Korea are not related so much to my nationality or “foreignness”, so much as they are a result of my gender.
The Institut du Monde Arabe (IMA) is an institution built around the idea of an ethnic and political body known as Arabs. And in a nation that has great difficulty discussing ethnicity under the vanguard of liberté-égalité-fraternité, the sight of such a poster is a paradox.
Even if you grew up in an expressive environment, if you have spent a lot of time in Japan and worked to acclimate yourself to the culture, your greeting instincts become scrambled and reset. You learn that hugging Japanese friends and family makes them uncomfortable and then you become unsure of what to do when you see your foreign friends who also live there. Do you hug only if you haven’t seen them in a long time? You forget if you hug friends every time you see them or if there is some other algorithm involved. It starts to strike you as odd when you are home and you hear your friends and family ending every phone call with “Love you!”
Living in such a volatile ethnic-economic context, I was pushed to understand my ethnic identity much differently than I had to before. In the past, I had “passed” my way through my travels in Asia. While living in Ho Chi Minh City teaching English to young Vietnamese students, young children often reminded me of our similarities as they lined their arms up next to mine and told me we’re the “same-same.” And when I traveled in South Korea and Japan with non-Asian college friends, locals looked to me to help bridge the language barrier. Even when I revealed that I am Taiwanese-American, they held a sense of camaraderie, as we recognized our overlapping national histories and mutual cultural understandings.
Today, Bussières acts as a traveling photographer with an anthropological methodology, and is stationed back and forth from Quebec to the north coast of California continuing to develop her projects. Her knowledge of social anthropology reminds her that a subject’s context is crucial to understanding their culture. She describes her artistic process as capturing and reconstructing moments in a way that both reflect emotions and realities, but still accounts for their unique contexts.
My neighborhood does not exist in space so much as it exists in imagination. Every resident and visitor has their own vision of this neighborhood whose heart is the Barbès-Rochechouart intersection. Some see Barbès as a place of community and normalcy. They might also call it home. Others see it as a neighborhood of multiple enclaves, and multiple social codes. For others still, Barbès is a place of fear and danger, a neighborhood to avoid if at all possible. Each imagined vision of the neighborhood seems to contradict the next.
Thanks to your interest in travel sustainability, advocacy, and culture, Shatter the Looking Glass has grown rapidly over the last year. We are thrilled to launch our new series; SLG Perspectives. Our team of expert travelers will share knowledge and stories from the cities and countries they know best. Here is our second batch of travelers.
“Shall I scrub your back?” offered the elderly woman sitting at the neighboring stool. “Yes, Thank you,” I replied as I nodded my head in a bow and then angled myself so this lady, whose name I never did learn, could soap and scrub my back with a wash cloth. This wasn’t at a spa where I was paying for a body scrub, it was the neighborhood hot spring I had been frequenting for a couple of years. This simple gesture by one of the regulars let me know I was now considered one of them.
As a foreign woman who has lived in Korea for over three years, I have come to realize that getting plastic surgery in Korea is one of the fastest, most accessible, and most popular services in Korea. This comes as no shock, as South Korea is the highest ranked country in the world for plastic surgery, according to the New York Times.
I biked through rural villages, rice paddies and dusty and bumpy dirt roads and sometimes there weren't even any roads, just torn up ox-cart paths that led to hidden pockets of the country where few ventured. It was on these bike rides that I began to see Cambodia in a new light and I started to see more than dusty roads, tuk tuks and overcrowded markets. I started to see the very essence of a country; the people.
Names are important. In the very first poem of the Man-yôshû, Japan’s first poetry anthology dating from the late 8th century, the emperor-poet Yûryaku implores a young woman picking herbs on a hillside “Tell me your name!” Whether it’s an ancient emperor, The Zombies, Lynyrd Skynrd or Jesse McCartney, getting someone’s name is the way you start to make a connection. One of the first sentences you’re likely to hear in Japanese is “Onamae wa?, meaning “Your name is...?” It seems like the answer would be simple enough, right?
But something happened. In that moment between stops on the Metro, between Blanche and Place de Clichy, the social code was broken. Some passengers seemed to express silently that “whoever that is, just shouldn’t do that,” or “not here, not in public.” In that moment, the unspoken, ignored truth had been quietly—if temporarily—accepted. Half the Metro car is white. Half is not.
We are thrilled to launch our new series; SLG Perspectives. Our team of expert travelers will share knowledge and stories from the cities and countries they know best. Rather than provide a "City Guide" or a "Must Do" list --- these columns will provide insight and understanding to the most fascinating cities, traditions and people.