I Was Treated Like A Celebrity In China Because Of My Skin Color

I Was Treated Like A Celebrity In China Because Of My Skin Color

"I felt noticed and important, thinking to myself: this is exactly how Lizzie McGuire felt when she pretended to be Isabella."

I Was Treated Like A Celebrity In China Because Of My Skin Color
Vidar Nordli-Mathisen

I was only 17 when I got the experience of a lifetime to travel to China with my high school and as an avid “Lizzie McGuire” viewer back in the day, I expected nothing short of amazing from a class trip out of the country. Even though the only flying experience I had prior to the trip was a quick 3-hour flight to New York the summer before, I knew that an opportunity like this scarcely comes around and if that meant I had to bear a 13-hour flight, so be it.

Before I got to China, I wanted to know everything exactly what to expect; although “Mulan” was one of my favorite Disney princesses growing up, I hardly thought that would be an accurate portrayal of what was to come so I asked my World History teacher who had traveled to China before what the experience would be like. I expected him to say things like “real Chinese food is way different from what American Chinese food” or “if you smell burning in the middle of the night, don’t worry. It’s just the smog.”

Instead, he said, “People are going to take pictures with you and of you because they don’t see black people often.” Wait, what? That was the last thing I expected to hear. Surely, he was joking or at least exaggerating because the concept of people wanting to take pictures of me just because of my skin color was so bizarre I couldn’t wrap my head around it. I found out later he wasn’t joking.

The first day I got to China my tour group and I traveled to the Summer Palace. I was immediately immersed in the beauty of the country, from the architecture to the scenery, and even the people. But just as I was fascinated with the Chinese people around me, they were fascinated with me. The moment we got there, a man started following me around taking pictures of me. He didn’t even try and make it subtle, like the way people do when they take a picture of their crush to show their best friend later, he just walked right up to me and started snapping.

I recalled words my teacher said to me right before the trip, “think of it this way, imagine if you saw a person with blue skin, wouldn’t you think it’s rare enough to take a picture?” I understood the perspective but was still shocked at how everything went down. As the days went on, more people came up to me asking for pictures together, saying yes meant opening the floodgates to many more requests and soon I had countless photos with strangers.

I’m not going to lie, it was a thrilling rush. I felt noticed and important, thinking to myself: this is exactly how Lizzie McGuire felt when she pretended to be Isabella. However, as things got complicated for Lizzie in the movie, things started to get complicated for me.

On our walk on the Great Wall of China, my friend and I, who is also black, ventured off together to take some pictures on the wall. After we got our pictures, we were walking back to meet up with our group but were stopped and asked for pictures. We complied but halfway through the photo sessions, my friend realized that she lost an iPod she was holding for a friend. We were surrounded by so many people grabbing us left and right we couldn’t break out from the circle of people that enclosed us, forcing us to take pictures with them.

In the middle of crying, my friend had to quickly wipe away her tears away to get a smiling picture with the people around us. That moment showed me a sliver of what real celebrities must go through and even though I knew they are often forced to put on an act, seeing my friend go through that was jarring. My friend never found the iPod after we broke out of the circle.

Being a “celebrity” for a couple of days is probably my most interesting experience. My trip to China was an amazing memory that I will hold with me for the rest of my life. It taught me that you can never know what someone is going through and if I ever want to be an instant celebrity, I just have to take a trip across the world.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

119 People Reveal How The Pandemic Has Affected Their Love Lives, And Honestly... Relatable

"I haven't been able to get out of the 'talking phase' with anyone."

The reality is, there's no part of life the pandemic hasn't affected. Whether it's your work life, your home life, your social life, or your love life, coronavirus (COVID-19) is wreaking havoc on just about everything — not to mention people's health.

When it comes to romance, in particular, people are all handling things differently and there's no "right way" of making it through, regardless of your relationship status (single, taken, married, divorced, you name it). So, some of Swoon's creators sought out to hear from various individuals on how exactly their love lives have been affected since quarantine began.

Keep Reading... Show less

Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B just dropped the hottest summer single yet. It's called "WAP" and we're going to get into all the intoxicating lyrics.

This song empowers females and their sexuality. These women put the ridiculous music industry female beef to bed, and I mean tucked away in a coma.

Keep Reading... Show less

How To Write Down The Holy Grail Recipe Everyone Begs You To Make

Because everyone has a signature cocktail, cake, or pasta they bring to every potluck.


From back when I used to bring my mom's classic white chocolate chip cookies to preschool on my birthday to now stirring up my signature tequila cocktails at every friends' barbecue, I've always had a couple of standby recipes in my culinary rotation.

Keep Reading... Show less

Meet My Cat: Cheshire, The Stray Turned House Cat Who Lives in Michigan

I never considered myself a cat person, but Chess immediately stole my heart.

Madelyn Darbonne

In 2016, a stray cat gave birth to a litter of three grey kittens on my aunt and uncle's property. I had never considered myself to be much of a cat person, but these furballs immediately stole my heart. I got to watch them grow up until they were old enough to leave their mother's side.

Keep Reading... Show less

How To Binge-Watch A TV Show —And Then Write A Review About It

Writing your favorite and least favorite things about a show could not be more fun.

Photo by Mollie Sivaram on Unsplash

Looking for a new show to binge? Stop scrolling through your options and listen.

Sometimes a good show doesn't come down to the genre or the actors involved, it comes down to the fact that it is simply a GOOD show. If any of these things sound appealing to you, you should definitely watch.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

11 Reasons Why Getting A Cat Is The Best Thing You Can Do For Your Mental Health

Cats may mess up your puzzles but they'll always love you unconditionally — as long as you have some catnip, that is.

Scout Guarino

Alright, everyone, it's time to stop spreading the rumor that all cats are mean, aloof, and hate everyone. Like dogs, each cat has its own personality and tendencies. Some like a lot of attention, some like less — each person has to find the right cat for them. As for me, my cats Bienfu and Reptar have seen me at my worst, but they've also helped pull me out of it. They're a constant in my life and they give me the strength to get through the day in spite of my depression, and there's even scientific evidence to support it!

Keep Reading... Show less

I've been bleaching my hair since I was in seventh grade. Yes, you read that correctly, seventh grade. That's nearly 10 years of maintaining a very light shade of blonde that too-often brings about dryness and brittle strands.

Keep Reading... Show less

Chances are if you're here, you're probably interested in writing an open letter. Yay! We're excited to have you.

Of course, not all open letters are created equal. In fact, there's a recipe to writing one for Odyssey that'll get featured on one of our many verticals. When it comes to Swoon specifically (for those new around here, that's our dating and relationships vertical), we receive dozens of open letters each month, many of which are all very similar.

Keep Reading... Show less

With a new phone comes great responsibility: Do not break it! And the best way to do that is with a case. However, picking a case can be a challenge. No need to fret, I am here to help break down some of the best cases for the new iPhone SE 2020. Honestly, I think it's going to be impossible to choose!

Keep Reading... Show less

To some who have been out of the dating world for a while, it can be hard to get back into the swing of things after being single for some time. So, I asked 26 people what they think is important to know before looking for love again, here's what they had to say.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments