Take a Picture, It’ll Last Longer


During my first few months in Beijing, I received more stares than I had ever gotten in my entire life. At first it flattered and amused me. Later, that amusement grew to irritation, and eventually I began to ignore the stares. Now, the hundreds of looks I receive daily are just background in my commute to work or the supermarket. There is definitely a comical variation of how people look at me.

The Obvious Gawker: Most often, the perpetrator is an older male. This stare remains persistent and is often accompanied with an open mouth. It is unbroken, even after eye contact or a gesture, such as a smile, that would normally render the perpetrator embarrassed or indicate friendliness. The only way to avoid this type of stare is to leave the vicinity of the unbreakable stare.

The Stealth Starer: These kinds of oglers either know it is impolite to stare or do not want to appear uncool. Their gaze is felt just as much as the Obvious Gawker, but instead of maintaining their stare, they slyly avert their eyes to avoid eye contact. Despite their attempt at surreptitiousness, they are just as guilty as the others.

The Gossip Gaze: This kind of stare is commonly committed among several people in a group [typically teenagers]. The onlookers not only stare, but also proceed to whisper about the object of fascination despite the possibility that said object may understand them.

The Busted Onlooker: These are the perpetrators who, once they are caught staring, have no other tactic than returning a smile. Whether the intent of the stare was to establish a connection with the stare-ee, this onlooker usually gains the notion that they now have an established relationship and may attempt to make verbal contact.