“Are you sisters?”

Reading the latest blog post in My Chinese Boyfriend reminded me of something. She writes about a roommate who thought that she and her friend were dating the same guy, just because both of them have Asian boyfriends and the roommate thought there was only one guy (yep, she must have been pretty high…). You can read the full story in her blog. I haven’t had similar comments towards my boyfriend when he visited Spain last year, but… I have had some weird comments in China! Not regarding my Chinese boyfriend, but my European friends. Yep, for many Asian people, whites also look alike.

The first time I was aware of this was during my first year studying in Beijing. There was a Korean classmate who thought my Spanish friend and I looked very similar and asked if we were family… when, honestly, we look very different. Yes, we have similar hair and eyes colour… but that’s about it!

Do we look like each other?

Do we look like each other?

Then, on my second year in Beijing, I had a German friend. We are about the same height, but she has fair hair and green eyes, and I have black hair and eyes, and of course my skin is darker. Well, several Chinese people asked if we were sisters! This lead to several private jokes between us and till this day we call each other sister.

My German sister and I. Sorry, it was a very windy day at the beach.

My German sister and I. Sorry, it was a very windy day at the beach.

Obviously, not all Asians think white people are so similar they must be related to each other, so I also had the complete opposite situation. In my third year in Beijing I was always going out with a Spanish friend who has curly fair hair and blue eyes. When Chinese people asked us where we were from, and both said from Spain, they would say: “How can you come from the same country? You have different eye colour!”. To which we had to explain that in most western countries you can see people of different hair, eye, and skin colour.

We cannot possibly be from the same country! (Anna had dyed her hair red when this pic was taken).

We cannot possibly be from the same country! (Anna had dyed her hair red when this pic was taken).

Have you experienced similar situations? Do you find it difficult to tell apart people of a race different to yours? Well, don’t feel ashamed as it is pretty common, as you can see here and here.

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