Miss Melting Pot

I usually don’t pay attention to things like the Miss America Pageant. In fact, I usually avoid them. However, the pageant last night has really caught some attention  because of the winner. Nina Davuluri, Miss New York, is an Indian American, as in, her family is from India. She was born in New York, but her parents came to the US from India in the 80’s. She’s the first Indian American to win Miss America, and many American people were not ok with this apparently. Twitter exploded with rants and raves about a Muslim winning Miss America, one Tweeter even going as far as calling Nina a terrorist.  Tweeters whined about how a “person like this” shouldn’t be winning so soon after 9/11. And most tweeters just sounded ignorant- making 7-11 jokes, calling her Egyptian, and saying “This is America.” (Read all the tweets here.)

Do people forget that America was founded on immigration? Are most of the people upset about this Native Americans? My guess is no. My guess is their families came from another country too; it just may have been more generations ago. Why is it ok to be an immigrant if you’re white but not ok if you’re any other color? Why did so many people say that Theresa Vail, Miss Kansas, should have won? Just because she is blonde and likes to hunt instead of enjoying Bollywood dancing?  Is Miss Kansas more American than Miss New York? I wasn’t aware that skin color and interests made a person American.

In school, we were always taught that America is a melting pot, people from different countries and cultures came together in the US and became one country and one people. However, I believe more in the salad bowl theory, which says many people come to the US and become Americans,  yet they can still retain things from their home countries and home cultures. We are lettuce, and tomatoes, and cheese. We are in the salad bowl together, but we remain as separate items at the same time.  That is what allows people to be Indian American, or Mexican American, or Italian American, or whatever they may be. That is what makes American great; we aren’t homogeneous.  We eat Mexican food for lunch, then we have Chinese food for dinner. We share and learn from each other’s backgrounds or cultures.

I don’t know. She looks American to me.

Miss New York

Source: buzzfeed.com

I Got Threaded Today

My sister Katie, my friend Lisa, and I got threaded today.

Before we continue, please cast your vote about what you think threading is:
a) getting really high on prescription pills
b) being cut by an enemy with barbed wire
c) a beauty procedure

Ding, ding, ding! You win a prize if your answer was C. Oh the things we women will do for beauty! We get procedures preformed on us that sound like things that are done to you on your first night in prison.

My sister has been raving lately about having her eyebrows threaded, so Lisa and I wanted to give it a go. Threading seems to be fairly new, at least in this area. However, it has actually been around for quite some time.

Threading has been a preferred method for women in India and many Arab countries for centuries. It is a way to shape the eyebrows and remove unwanted hair. Thread is used to pluck the hair a line at a time. This method is faster than plucking individual hairs and is less irritating to the skin than waxing.

My sister had been to this particular threading joint several times before, so the owners were friendly enough to talk to us and let us take a few pictures.

Eyebrow Threading

Notice how the thread is anchored in her mouth. And it’s done so quickly! If you’re thinking about giving this a try, I will say it stings a bit. It hurts less than getting your eyebrows waxed though. The results last for about two weeks. It’s pretty inexpensive at $10, which is about the same price you’ll pay to get your eyebrows waxed.

Eyebrow Threading

Just like I enjoy trying food from other countries or listening to music from far away places, it’s also an adventure to try things from other countries you wouldn’t normally think about, like beauty procedures. I always like to do something different. This was my different for the week. :]

Have you ever tried threading? What did you think? If you haven’t, would you? Have you tried an even weirder beauty procedure while living abroad or even in your own country? I did have my eyelashes chemically, semi-permanently curled while I lived in China. But, that’s another story for another day…

“Your Hair is Like the Fine Silk”

I need my hair cut. I’ve put it off for a few months, mostly because it’s hard to schedule an appointment and keep it. I miss the days when I was in China, and I could literally get my hair cut on campus. However, my favorite hair salon was the one right outside my school gate, a mere 10 minute walk from my on-campus apartment that all the foreign teachers lived in.

Teaching ESL in China

My university with the row of restaurants, shops, and my hair salon in the front. The salon is the one that is glowing.

I remember the first time I went to that hair salon. It was my first hair cut in China. I took one of my Chinese friends, Grace, with me to translate, and we soon found out that I was the first foreigner to get her hair cut there. One interesting thing about getting your hair cut in China is that about 95% of the stylists are male. So, I sit in the chair of one of the guys, and he just stares at me with a confused look on his face. Before I know it, the entire staff of the hair salon are gathered around me, touching curly hair for what I’m sure was the first time. And then they then proceeded to have a conference about what to do with my hair. As they were rapidly speaking Chinese, I had no idea what they were saying until Grace said, “He wants me to tell you something. He said your hair is like the fine silk.” Ok, I’ll take that unique compliment!

I got my hair cut that day with no problem and for only about 3 US dollars! Soon my fellow teacher Heidi and I started going to the hair salon all the time. We’d just pop in after dinner to get our hair straightened for about $2. We became friends with all the stylists there and gave them English names. They didn’t speak a word of English, so it was really good for our Chinese language practice! Also, they liked practicing their English on us. And their hair…oh how I love their hair! Young Chinese guys have really crazy hair styles, and the stylists were the kings of crazy!

Expat in China

Me, Heidi, and the stylists

Chinese hair stylist

Shawn’s hair styles were always my favorite!

I got brave  and started trying things other than a simple cut. I had read online that a perm can loosen the curls of people who have really curly hair, so I thought I’d give it a go. It actually turned out pretty well and calmed my hair down a bit. However, the methods cracked me up. I had my hair hooked up to a machine that looked like it was sucking my brain out. It is one of my all-time favorite China pictures. Then they put this trough-type thing around my neck. It was an epic experience.


Here is an alien sucking out my brain, er, me getting a perm.


Here is my perm trough!

Soon, I started taking every other foreigner there that was wanting to get a hair cut. Soon this salon became THE foreign hair salon. They should have given me a cut of the profits!

hair salon in China

I took my Canadian friend Don to get his hair cut. Notice how they wash your hair in the regular chair then take you to the sink to rinse. Also, they give you a nice massage!

Some people go abroad, especially to a place like China, and aren’t adventurous. Some of my fellow teachers wouldn’t dare to get their hair cut in China. They would wait a whole year until they went home. Come on people! Be a part of the culture you’re in. Participate and enjoy. Learn and make friends while you’re at it. It just might be some of the best memories you have.

Hair salon in China

Andy was the guy that always did my hair. I may have had a crush on him. Maybe.