Stories of countries and their people are more than just their stereotype. There is more to Soviet Russia than its purported image of communist brutality, there is more to other countries than their singular perspective the world’s media sees too.
I can attest to the ‘wanting to be blonde and blue-eyed’ part. Even in Singapore where we are a melting pot of diverse cultures and races, most girls dye their hair brown if not lighter, and usage of coloured contacts are quite common. That is something that is common even amongst different races.
“I don’t know what hunger is,” said Mikhail: teacher, father, product of the Soviet Union. It was strange hearing that from him, even more so with a bright smile in his eyes and overall jovial demeanor, as if he were discussing a recent hockey victory and not a supposedly sore subject. Rather, as an American it was strange hearing that. I think of the USSR, and I think of tanks, grayness, secrecy, scary and impenetrable Cyrillic lettering, looming misery, and long bread lines in inclement weather; the depressing and immoral yield of a communist machine; the enemy of capitalism and, consequently, freedom. So how could Mikhail even utter the words: “I was a teenager. I didn’t have problems”? Of course you had problems! The single story I know says so! You are a product of the Soviet Union, Mikhail, and nothing else.
Such is the danger of the single story…
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