“J’aime la noire!”
“Hola hot chocolate!”
“Que labios tan lindos!”
“Take me to Africa!”
These are just a few of the things I’ve heard from men while traveling abroad. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been approached (especially online) about my skin, hair, or lips alone. Things that, if I looked like other women in the country, would probably never be a topic of discussion.
Now I don’t believe that the nature of this approach is ever intentionally malicious. In fact, most fetishizers believe they are only exercising a “preference” for looks. Obsession over your “ethnic” features is just appreciation for the “exotic” and “different”. They don’t see the issue with confining your entire identity down to just your physical traits. They don’t imagine their desire for a tryst with you as a hunt for which you are merely a trophy.
To be clear, this works in all directions. Men and women of all nationalities can be fetishized alike. I’ve had discussions with my Chinese friend about similar experiences she’s had throughout Europe. I’ve known plenty of African/African-Americans who have been in these situations in Asian countries. Caucasians can be fetishized. People even fetishize members of the same ethnicity.
*Cough* like light-skinned/dark-skinned obsessions in the black community *Cough*
But this post is specific for those of you who experience it while traveling abroad. What can I do to prevent it? How do I know it’s happening? Why should I even care?
Well, I don’t have all the answers. I just have perspective and my experience to share. I talk a little more about specific encounters I had in my “Dating Abroad” YouTube video that I will link at the end of this post. Check it out if you have the time. But in the meantime, all I can really say is YOU have to set the standards and boundaries you desire. For example, there are certain approaches that get an automatic swerve from me.
“Black women are so sexy” SWERVE. “Your lips are so full” SWERVE. “Oooh I like chocolate” SWERVE. “Can I please kiss you?” #SWIIIIZZZEERRRVE.
And no, I’m not making this shit up. I’ve been asked to be kissed several times abroad. Like, excuse me? Do I look like Lucy van Pelt??? (+50 points if you know who that is). I am NOT here satisfy your little ebony porn fantasy.
So I define anything that reduces me to my appearance and/or a lust for my “type” of look as fetishization, and therefore unacceptable. That doesn’t mean that these things can’t brought up at all, just not as an initial or recurring conversation. But again, that’s my own interpretation. Maybe you don’t mind it that kind of discussion, maybe you take the admiration as a compliment. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. You have to define your own meaning.
Okay, and what about prevention? Is there a method? Unfortunately, I’d have to say no. People are going to like what they like and approach how they want. I would never tell any individual, especially not a woman, to alter their identity to draw less attention to themselves. The only thing for you to do is keep your #SWERVE game heavy and discernment on 100. Remember, not EVERY person is a bad guy (or gal)!