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Why 'Exotic' is not a compliment

Other | Monday 13th February 2017 | Annoush

Exotic is a word reserved for birds, not people.

If I had a pound every time someone has referred to me as exotic I would have a lot of money (not enough to pay of my student loan, but still a lot). There is so much wrong with this phrase I don’t know where to begin…

I am aware that most people don’t mean it in an offensive way, in fact they say it like a complement, but please it is a gross and very odd phrase, so please stop.

It usually beings with the, “Oh were are you from?” “London.” “No but originally.” “South West London...” “Where are your parents from?” This is the age-old conversation that fellow diverse people have. Or sometimes people give you a look like they’re surprised or disappointed that you haven’t said somewhere foreign and non-western. It still amazes me that people think it’s acceptable to ask things like this, especially as London is so multi-cultural.

Being referred to as exotic is just strange, it sounds like you are comparing a person to a rare bird? It’s implying that you don’t look like other girls, you have dark mysterious features, oh so fascinating. Well, to me it all sounds a little demeaning, “I’ve bought this exotic creature back home, isn’t she so strange and new.”

The worst thing is when people try to guess where you’re from, I have had everything from Arabic to Italian, if I was from a different country I would tell you, please there is no need to guess, I am not about to tell someone, “You look like your from Brighton”.

So please if you are looking for a partner, don’t refer to them as exotic, and remember next time you ask someone where they’re originally from, they might get upset. Maybe just say they look good and ask about their family in a kind and interested way. 

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