You don`t look Swiss

Dear ladies & fellas

For my birthday I wanted to make me a gift and finally write an opinion piece about something, that haunts me quite often: My looks…

As you may know or not know, was my father Swiss, while my mother is of Georgian (on her father`s side) and Ukranian-Jewish (on her mother`s side) descent. I was born in Zurich, as a Swiss citizen, grew up with two native languages, German and Russian, that I both speak fluent & lived as a child in Switzerland, Georgia, Russia and Kazakhstan. I spent, so far, the majority of my lifetime in Switzerland and although I appreciate the safety & civil liberties I enjoy in Switzerland, I often feel like a complete stranger in the country I was born in & went to school etc.

Although, I don`t want to claim that the majority of the Swiss people is racist, because it is more often than not sheer ignorance, the behaviour of „visibly Swiss people“ has a major impact on my feeling of being a foreigner on Swiss soil, despite the fact that, as mentioned above my papa was Swiss & I was born with a Swiss nationality. This ignorance manifests itself in the following sentence: „You don`t look Swiss“. Like a Dibbuk this sentence haunts me from my history teacher in the 7th grade, who told me, that I was „best student despite being non-aryan*“ to appointments at the haidresser, where the hairdressers always tell me the very same sentence, after brushing through my thick, dark hair. It seems that the genes of my Georgian ancestors from Poti & my Ukranian-Jewish ancestors from Odessa were stronger in shapping my appearance, than the genes of my Swiss father. Because at the end of day I always look the same: A pale creature with dark, thick hair, that resembles more the people, that are found on the shores of the Black sea than the people that are found around the lake Zurich. But that`s not all: The real curse of my life is my nose. As a jew, it drains my soul every time that people claim that my nose is „typically Jewish“. I thought that those insults would end at that point in my life, when people would see me as an adult or something… But no, till this day I hear that my nose looks „Jewish“ & that my appearance overall is not Swiss-like. I got used to it. But some incidents can still leave me speechless, as happend a couple of days before, when a customer in the bookstore I work overheard a conversation, about a new piercing that I had with my boss. Said customer, who knows that I am Jewish, told me then, that my nose would have brought me to a concentration camp & he would not highlight my Jewish nose in any way. Stuff like that is often an emotional setback for me and a reason that my soul wishes that my body would walk on the beaches around Poti again, where I used to blend in more easily and were my crooked nose could breathe more easily.

*He saw himself as „Aryan of Celtic and Germanic descent“. What a narrow worldview, because the real „Land of the Aryans“ lies somewhere else…

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