By Elena Garcia

SuzhouAs an avid visitor to sites like Perez Hilton and a subscriber to US Weekly, I have come to rely on my favorite Paparazzi shots. Nothing is more uplifting than a crazy Britney photo or a Lindsay crotch shot! I always figured that when celebs when nutzo on the Paps it was because they were just jerks. I often thought how great it would be if I were famous and the paparazzi followed me around! I even practiced my “I’m hungry face” in the mirror to be prepared in the event of sudden flashing. I thought it would be so cool! Until of course I sat on the other side.

Don’t get me wrong, the Paparazzi always seemed crazy and a little over the top but there was just always something so fascinating about their bright metal flashes, their gigantic cameras shielding their faces from recognition and their encyclopedic knowledge of one’s name and life. I imagined them like the photographers out of a vintage black and white film, wearing a suit, a hat and a funny accent. I was fascinated.

But on a trip Suzhou I realized the glitzy dreams of fame and Paparazzi are just that… dreams. Suzhou is a small town about an hour and half out of Shanghai famous for it’s old temples, pagodas and tourist. Garrett, his parents and I went their on a weekend trip during their visit to Shanghai. Walking along crowded streets, I experienced the attention most celebs get everyday.

As I walked in the midst of the crowd, I was approached by a 20 something girl who spoke broken English. Immediately, I assumed she was trying to pick pocket me. (I had heard stories of locals getting near and trying their best to get their hands down your purse, so I quickly grabbed onto it making sure it was secure, hidden beneath my armpit and hugged by my chest and arm.) With my purse secured I continued listening to her attempts at talking to me.

Garrett looked over and saw my paranoid face in conversation with a stranger and quickly came to my side to find out what was happening. Although I was prepared to battle it out with her over my belongings (she was tiny, I could of totally taken her) I didn’t have to. And Garrett didn’t have to either. The girl approached me to see if I would take a photo with her. Assuming this was a ploy, to pick pocket or con me, I shrugged her off by saying sorry but no.

I thought the girl had been mistaken or a thief but sooner rather then later another person approached, and another and people approached Garrett and soon it occurred to me that they weren’t trying to pick pocket us, and they didn’t think we were famous.

They’d never seen white people before.

People in China stare… they stare at us, they stare at each other, they stare at random objects, they just stare. It’s not rude, it’s not polite, and it’s not anything, they just stare! Garrett and I had gotten use to this. We’d gotten use to people looking, and never thought it was us… it was them.

Occasionally in Shanghai, we’d gotten stares from tourists visiting the metropolis who hadn’t encountered our white faces in their small towns but never often enough to remind us of the oddities of white people in China.

In other words, we knew a lot of Chinese people had never seen a foreigner but in Shanghai we’d only experienced it a tiny bit because Shanghai is filled with foreigners!

On this particular trip we were reminded of the oddities of our foreign faces and I didn’t like it.

My entire life I have craved the attention, to stand under a single spot light, on a center stage, with all eyes on me, every elementary teacher I ever had would tell you that! But when all of a sudden I had to perform, I froze!

Throughout the remainder of the trip people snapped photos of the temples, of the rock gardens, of us and for the first time I understood why celebrities flip out on people. I wanted nothing more then to scream at them and shake them into the realization that I wasn’t anything special or different.

Now, there are plenty of people who think this kind of attention is charming and cute. Garrett had a great time with it, taking pictures with anyone who asked and even asking to take pictures with his camera. Garrett’s Parents were also quite popular with the locals and often posed for group shots!

But for some reason it really got under my skin. I’ve settled so much already during my stay here. I mean I put up with the spitting, the staring, the pushing and shoving, I feel like I have reached my limit. Any more unwarranted attention, disrespect or cultural nuances and I might lose it. So I continued to refuse and hoped I wasn’t offending anyone.

Nevertheless, LaLohan, I totally get it.


  1. Maybe we should start asking random people to take take pictures with us. You know, spread the love. You’ll be famous one day though baby, so better get used to it!

    Comment by Garrett — June 12, 2009 @ 12:53 pm

  2. that picture turned out good too

    Comment by Garrett — June 12, 2009 @ 1:08 pm

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