In fact, I was very surprised to find my Brazilian friend had decided to add some borderline offensive comments to my album. So this friend is someone who likes winding me up nearly as much as I do him, and his comments would have been laughed off quickly had they been made over a few beers. Only they weren’t made over a few beers, they were posted on Facebook!
A couple of years ago I took a trip back to the UK to attend a friend’s wedding. Just as I’d hoped, the day was extremely enjoyable, the weather was great and I particularly enjoyed catching up with friends I hadn’t seen for a while. So the next day after sleeping off the excess of the previous day, I added some of my pictures to my Facebook page.
With wedding pictures you can usually expect a number of people to ‘like’ your pictures, particularly when it comes to shots of the bride. These ‘likes’ are usually accompanied by comments such as ‘absolutely gorgeous’, ‘beautiful’ or as I read once: ‘One word: Stunning Babe!’. You’re then likely to find that the rest of the pictures will have other playful comments written underneath, like ‘oh you scrubbed up well!’ or ‘everyone looks drunk’.
So a minute or so after posting my own set of pictures I envisaged getting a handful of similar comments.But this wasn’t to be.
He was particularly tickled that one of the female guests was wearing a large wedding hat. On reflection this hat was an over-sized, floppy thing that was pretty unique even by British standards. Yet it definitely wasn’t out of place for a wedding. When it comes to British weddings, I’m pretty sure anything Lady Gaga has ever worn on her head is fair game, the rule is that there are no rules for what is an appropriate wedding hat.
“Why is she wearing the sorting hat from Harry Potter to a church wedding? Kkkkkkk!” was the first in a series of comments I was scrambling to delete before anyone had the chance to read.
Clearly encouraged when he noticed I was deleting his comments as soon as he’d posted them, my friend continued to write the same comment under every picture of the woman wearing the ‘sorting hat’.
“Gryffindor, you are Gryffindor! Please go to Gryffindor immediately!”
After a few minutes I decided enough was enough, and I sent him an email:
“In Britain women wear hats like this to weddings, this is our culture. My friend will be confused about the ‘Harry Potter hat’ comments if she reads them, so PLEASE STOP!
And he did….
It’s not just some of the hats that Brazilians find intriguing, but fascinators too. I’ll never forget watching the wedding of William and Kate on Brazilian TV with my Brazilian flat mate. He was very interested in what was unfolding on our TV screen, and his curiosity led him to ask me a number of interesting questions about the event; my favourite one being:
“Why are British women wearing carnival clothes to church?”
“Carnival clothes?” I repeated, wondering if this was a genuine question. After all, nobody had turned up to the Royal Wedding scantily clad and looking like they’d been dipped in a vat of glitter.
“Yes, with these crazy hats and feathers. This style really reminds me of carnival!” Clearly amused by his own joke, he started to laugh. “I never imagined women would wear things like this in England” he added, “They are a little crazy, aren’t they?”
I guess wedding hats or fascinators at a wedding must look peculiar to the unaccustomed Brazilian eye, but I still felt it was my duty as a Brit to defend their choice of head wear. As I was about to do this though I glanced back over at the TV screen just in time to see one of the Princesses arriving at the church. She had what looked like a giant pretzel stuck to the front of her head, and after thinking about my response for a while….I conceded that I really should just keep quiet.
A few years ago I sat and watched the final Harry Potter at the cinema with my outspoken friend Carlos. He enjoys winding me up to the point I am almost immune to the majority of whatever comes out of his mouth now, and before the film started I could have guessed the aspects of British culture he was going to pick up on.
I responded to his comment about Brits driving down “the wrong side of the road because they are crazy” with a dismissive smile and instant amnesia. I also acknowledged his observation that “England always looks really cold, I could never live there” with a half-assed nod and a mouth full of popcorn.
But as the credits began rolling and the lights came up I wasn’t ready for what was about to come tumbling out of his mouth. As I looked over at him to see if he wanted to leave straight away or to wait for the crowds to ease before leaving, I noticed that he was thoughtfully looking me up and down from his seat. He did this in a detached sort of way, like he was contemplating an exotic zoo animal for the first time. Then he broke his self imposed silence to direct a very bizarre comment at me.
“Andrew. Your clothes are EXACTLY the same as the people in Harry Potter!”
I’m not sure why I felt compelled to do this, but I took a moment to look down at what I was wearing just to check.
They weren’t, or at least I didn’t think they were.
“Erm….what?” I asked loudly, with a confused frown now dominating my face.
“Absolutely this!” he remarked defiantly, “even now you are wearing Harry Potter clothes! Just look, one hundred percent you look like a Harry Potter character. You look like a muggle!”
Why Can’t I Pass For Being Brazilian?
Living in the cultural melting pot that is Sao Paulo, I am constantly amazed by the ability some Brazilians have to pick me out from the crowd as being a foreigner. I discussed this in a previous blog post I wrote a few months back (looking foreign in Sao Paulo), and am still bewildered that people can do this so easily. When I asked my friends and students why I can’t pass as Brazilian, many have said quite insightfully…that I just can’t.
They’ve not been able to put their finger on exactly why, but I have been offered some possible suggestions (including some suggestions from readers of the blog post). One is that my Portuguese accent is definitely not native, others have suggested that I walk like a foreigner; that I carry myself like a foreigner and some have even said it may be because of my foreign ‘style’ of dress.
I won’t lie to you, at first I enjoyed hearing people refer to me as someone with a ‘style’, it doesn’t happen very often back home. The UK might be where Alexander McQueen, Tom Baker and Burberry herald from; but to be honest with you, when I go out I’m dressed more like a walking advert for the Fathers Day Marks and Spencer’s range than I do a cutting edge fashionista.
So when it comes to our style, I’ve now started to wonder if British people look more like Harry Potter characters to Brazilians than I’d ever really considered before….and I’m now looking at Facebook pictures of my friends weddings, and questioning why women look so eccentric at formal wedding ceremonies.
What do you think about the way British people dress? Do you think British women look strange at weddings?