Aug 18, 2011

Do all Caucasians look the same ?

You know how Caucasians say all Chinese look alike? I've discovered that it works both ways.

The boys have been taught swimming by a few different instructors, but have settled on one for their weekly lessons. One day while at the poolside, I pointed to one instructor and told a friend, "That's my boys' instructor."
The friend, who has seen Number One and Two's instructor, said, "No, it's not."
I looked at her weird, and said "Yes, it is."
She proceeded to tell me their names and distinguishing characteristics, while I'm flabbergasted by how much the two look like twins!

When I first arrived, I also had this weird experience of seeing movie stars everywhere.
Firstly, I saw Charlize Theron on the first day at school. This lanky, slim woman with short blonde hair. I couldn't stop staring. I wanted to walk up to her and say, "You look like Charlize Theron."

And then, I saw Suri Cruise at playgroup. And I did tell her mother, "Your daughter looks like Suri Cruise." She must have thought I was weird. Because I had seen Caucasian faces primarily on the screen and in magazines, that had formed my database of faces.

On the flip side, a mom at school said she swore she saw me at work the other day but of course, it wasn't me.

Whether Caucasian or Asian, we must all agree, 'all monkeys look the same.' But I've watched a documentary where some researches tested babies' reaction to pictures of different monkeys. The babies could tell the monkeys apart by their facial characteristics!

What the brain doesn't need, it doesn't evolve the ability to do. And in a land of Asians, you hone the ability to distinguish Asian features and vice versa. There are Caucasians in Malaysia but they are few so just a few macro characteristics (Mark at Legal, or big-sized Rob) is enough to tell them apart. In the research with the monkeys, when the children got older, they lost this ability to recognise faces, simply because they didn't need it.

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