Maria Smedstad: Look like other people
“You’re Big Smithy’s daughter!” a man in a dusty top hat shouted delightedly at me across a pub last night. I reassured him that my dad is not Big Smithy, but a rather slim Swede, but he was having none of it. “You’re definitely a relative of Big Smithy’s. There’s no mistaking you lot, you all look the same.”
It’s rare that I get mistaken for someone else in England. In Sweden, on the other hand, I frequently spot people who look like me. They’ll have the same kind of body frame and facial features; they’ll dress and even move in a way that seems familiar. There’s something incredibly reassuring about looking like other people, a safety in numbers kind of thing. It’s also undeniably a balm to the self-esteem. I cannot criticise myself without also criticising the strangers who look like me, and that would be rude, even by Swedish standards.
Actually, thinking about it, it does happen that I get confused with someone else in the UK. “Adults only!” a doorman at a venue yelled after me a little while ago. When I turned to face him, revealing that I am not in fact a child, but a very short grown-up, he resorted to the British solution of shouting “sorry!” until, naturally, I was obliged to tell him that the fault was all mine. Because this is what becomes of a person who has lived in the UK for a long time: I might not look like a Brit, but by God can I solve a problem by engaging in a game of endless apology, until everyone forgets what the initial issue actually was. This, to me, is just about the best national look there is.
TEXT: MARIA SMEDSTAD
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Scan Magazine Ltd.’
Subscribe to Our Newsletter
Receive our monthly newsletter by email