Stop Calling Me “French Girl”

He’s barely listening. His eyes are searching for something more interesting to look at. In lack of a better question to make conversation, he asks where I’m from.

“I’m from Paris, France.”

This is usually how it starts.

And by “it,” I mean being stereotyped and fetishized.

“Oh, you’re a French girl.”

“Tell me more about dating in your country.”

“Do you smoke? Do you drink?”

“Teach me some bad French words.”

In my first few days of college as an international student, I used to take this spark in my interlocuter’s curiosity as a compliment. After all, shouldn’t I be proud of where I came from?

However, as time went by, I have grown to notice the difference between being asked questions about my culture and being fetishized and scrutinized based on the stereotypes associated with being French.

While on a date with an American guy, he started pointing at things and asking me if I knew what they were called in English. It was both humiliating and infuriating having to explain that as I had gotten into BU, I had indeed learned the word “table” in elementary school. After that, he told me his friend was debating ending things with a girl he was interested in because she was “too religious.” I couldn’t help but wonder if he assumed it would be easier to get into my pants. Unfortunately for him, French women are not only sexually liberated, but also very aware of men’s intentions and tricks to pass off as a gentleman.

Outside of this incredibly disappointing encounter, it has been hurtful to notice a very big change in people’s behavior as they find out I’m French. Their eyes light up when I tell them where I’m from, but they don’t seem interested in anything else that I have to say. At least, they weren’t until they found out about my ethnicity.

I get it. It’s exciting meeting people from all over the world. But shouldn’t your appreciation of my persona come from things other than my ethnicity as well?

I didn’t come to America as a delegate for my country. It’s tiring when every conversation ends up being related to my French-ness.

I’m French, but I’m so much more than that. You can find millions of French girls in France, but there’s only one me.

I’d like to stop being referred to as “French girl,” and start being called by my actual name.

I’m Ariane. I love writing, taking Harry Potter quizzes, following political debates, baking muffins and cookies, and learning as many languages as I can.

Please don’t tell me how much you enjoyed your trip to Paris and Nice. I can relate to you in other ways that your experience with my home country. Tell me about your favorite show. Introduce me to a new spot in Boston. Show me the funniest meme you’ve seen today.

 

Your ethnicity and my ethnicity are only part of our stories. In the end, aren’t our hearts united? Aren’t we just broke college students full of dreams and hope, desiring to make dozens of great friends and explore the world? Let’s focus on that. Let’s learn each other’s names. Let’s find out the whole story.

 

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