Do we? Maybe we do because this was the first thing anyone said to me yesterday morning as I walked through the school doors. I must have looked terrible. I told myself otherwise, went into the office and convinced myself they must be due a visit to the optician. After sitting at my desk for a few minutes, paranoia kicked in. I remembered looking in the mirror before I left the house that morning and thinking I looked alright. Apparently my efforts were overshadowed by my persistent sickly look.
This isn’t the first time I’ve been told this when I felt great so I wasn’t overly surprised, but this was the first time that it wasn’t just about me. This time is was about all foreigners. Is it to do with having pale, midwinter skin? It can’t be because I have plenty of friends who have wonderful, healthy looking skin tones who could not be mistaken for dishcloths so it can’t be that. In addition, the average foreigner in Korea also takes as many holidays abroad as possible and so year round tans aren’t that uncommon. It can’t be related to Saturday’s late night because today is Friday and I’ve been getting my eight hours of sleep a night, and drinking fluids like they’re going out of fashion (mainly in green tea form to keep warm while we wait for a socially acceptable time to turn on the heating, I have no idea when this will be).
Do foreigners always look sick to Koreans? I did a poll of my Korean co workers and they established that yes, foreigners do often look sick, but that so did Koreans so I shouldn’t worry. It was just that foreigners looked sick more often. After my morning of wasted, obsessive vanity it turned out that it wasn’t just me, or the foreign community that always looked sickly. Oh no, it’s everyone, from everywhere. Lesson of the week: no matter what you think you look like there’s a 50/50 chance that you look ill to everyone else.