While walking around the streets of Melbourne city, its amazing to observe the large selection of ethnic groups found in Victoria. With almost four corners of the globe gathering in Melbourne, the diverse nature of the society here adds value to what the small city has to offer. You can find a variety of everything, from everywhere, from restaurants, clothing stores, and intimate communities in some Suburbs (Brunswick, comes to my mind).
What I have noticed personally, being a male, Malaysian, Malay in Melbourne is that I often receive and give off something I call “The Look” – (The facial expression when encountering another member of the same ethnicity or country or someone who looks relatively similar)
Whenever I cross paths with another ‘Malay’ male in Melbourne, either from brushing shoulders on the sidewalk, or passing by a group at a cafe, there is a expression of curiosity which is clearly evident from similar looking folk. “The Look” feels like a combination of acknowledgment, confusion, and even shock. This expression comes from encountering someone that looks similar to how you look, meaning, they don’t have to be malay, they just have to look Malay-ish for “The Look” to occur.
My Definition of a “Malay-ish Male” :
- Skin type: Dark ‘chocolate’ brown to a Mocha shade of Brown
- Height: Below 6 feet
- Facial Features: Nose, and bone features unrefined, mustache/goatee facial hair growth, tar discolourment of the teeth
- Attire: The Trendy Kind – Skinny jeans, tight t-shirt, and sling bag or The Tourist – Big Pony Polo shirt (tucked in), and timberland shoes, with aviator sunglasses.
I understand the list is somewhat ambiguous and creates a horrible stereotype, but it is relevant to why “The Look” Occurs. The understanding that we are left pondering the question if – ”He is the same ethnicity as I am”, stands strong to the point why this facial expression occurs.
When this phenomena happens , It’s at a split second look, thus-forth an inability to capture the facial expression in motion. I take improvisation here with how “The Look” is like:
I get quite uncomfortable when exchanging ‘The Look’ it feels that after that we are obliged greet each other and then converse in Bahasa Malaysia whilst lambasting Malaysian politics and spontaneously play the guitar.
So in the situation, I give “The Look”,bend my head down, and power walk slightly faster away from the individual in sheepishness, always leaving with a lingering thought – “I wonder if he’s Malay?”