Tackling stereotypes abroad

Blog by Kriti Toshniwal

Stereotypes, we have all encountered them. And as expats abroad, we encounter them more openly and perhaps more often. As an Indian woman living abroad, I have encountered several stereotypes. Some of these were expressed to me rather directly: why I don’t wear a dot (bindi) on my forehead or why I don’t wobble my head when talking. Others were expressed in subtle ways: how I had started dressing like a Western girl (though I wore both jeans and skirts before moving abroad). Or how it must be ‘so expensive’ for my family to come visit me here in the Netherlands (well, just as expensive as the other way round).

What’s wrong with stereotypes?

But what is the issue, you might ask. Remarks like these are not meant to be demeaning or serious; they are meant to be light-hearted. Besides, stereotypes have, in a way, helped us make sense of our globalized world. Knowing that the Americans are loud or the Dutch are bluntly honest brings order to our minds. By labelling, we are aware of these differences. And of course they are an essential part of our humour. So much so, that comedians like Russell Peters have ma