Posted by: r.m. | April 29, 2012

conversation 1: you don’t look Lebanese

The following is a transcript between a female stranger and me in Egypt

Female Egyptian Stranger: (after I spoke to her in Arabic, in my Lebanese accent): You’re not Egyptian, right?

Me: Correct, I’m not.

Her: Are you Moroccan?

Me: No, I’m Lebanese.

Her: But you don’t look Lebanese.

Me: Well, I am Lebanese, and I do look like other women in my family.

Her: Well, you’re not from Beirut.

Me: Actually, I live there.  But, let me ask you: why do you say I don’t look Lebanese. I have been told that I don’t look Lebanese for months now in Egypt.

Her: Well, you don’t look like you’ve had plastic surgery.


Me: Yes, I haven’t made my nose smaller or my lips bigger.

Her: I have. I had a nose operation


[next: i have to figure out why I’m commonly thought of as being from Morocco]


For accuracy: I have gotten the same comment on a weekly basis in Lebanon for years. Conversations there are like this one, which happened in Hamra (Beirut), and note that these conversations are in Arabic – both of us speaking in a Lebanese accent, with my accent arguably stronger:

female stranger: You’re not Lebanese. [said in a statement, not a question]

me: Yes, I am Lebanese

female stranger: Really? Both your mom and dad are Lebanese?

me: Yes, both my parents are Lebanese, and I can trace my family back 700 years to this region. Yes, I am Lebanese. Would you like to see my family tree? my ID?

female stranger: well, you don’t look Lebanese.

— Those comments I only get in Beirut – whether in Hamra or Achrafieh – and never elsewhere in Lebanon where the image of what a Lebanese looks like is not so narrow: i.e. not defined by plastic surgery, straightened hair, heavy make-up, or who knows what



  1. hmm that’s just a stupid stereotype!

  2. Perhaps it’s because of your Bahraini accent…

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