It was Sunday morning and I was walking to my first day of classes with my company. I got up nice and early to prepare my outfit and look over my lesson. The house I lived in was very close to where I taught, so I walked the whole way. The air was polluted so it wasn't as nice as refreshing as a walk could have been, but I kept a smile on the whole time excited to be teaching my first class.
The first thing I began to notice was the people staring. This made me very nervous because I thought maybe there was something wrong with either my outfit or I had leftover breakfast food on my face. I panicked. I began to walk faster. Near the company there is a bus station and walking very briskly past it I heard someone speaking English. As I turned my head I saw three security guards standing up waving at me saying "Hello beautiful". I didn't know how to respond so I just waved back and continued walking. As soon as I got to work I seen another colleague of mine, "Have you gotten used to the staring yet Chels?" he asked. "What! Is that what that was?!" I answered, shocked and appalled. Immediately I knew that this was why everyone was staring. This is where the idea of "erotic difference" came into my mind.
Since there were only a handful of 'foreigners' in the town I was living in it was a shock to the Chinese culture to see us walking about. The stares varied from shocked, curious, excited, to angry and rude. Being a girl, we tended to get the happier of the stares. It was defiantly an ego booster to some of the woman I taught with. One wouldn't even come out with any other girls because it 'drew attention away from her'. I didn't think much of this because it is the exact same reason to why Western men find the Chinese girls very attractive. They are different. When you are not used to seeing someone who is different they automatically become 'erotic' in your mind.
This idea of attractiveness became an advantage to me in the long run. I had an interview at the private school I taught at and as soon as the principal seen me he hired me on the spot, "You are beautiful and will be an excellent teacher". He hired me based on his perspective on how attractive I was. I could have been the worlds worst teacher, but because my principal thought I was good looking he truly believed the children would obey me and I would be an excellent teacher. This bothered me in the beginning because he had no idea how my skills of teaching were, but it didn't take long until I appreciated the decision and thought myself lucky from having to sit through an interview when I have never taught before.
After some time, in a way, I got used to the staring and the pointing and the whispering. Living the life in China is defiantly in some aspects living like a celebrity. Everyone is always complimenting you and you can do pretty much anything you like, (legal that is). I also caught on to the limited amount of English the Chinese people knew. It was basically: Hello, Okay, Bye Bye, and Beautiful.
To conclude this story, every Sunday that I walked by that bus station to go to work the same three security guards sat waiting for me to come by so they could say "Hello beautiful", and every morning I would smile, wave back and reply "Ni hao ma?".