Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Walking around with a caricature of yourself
Months ago a girl I know who draws caricatures for a living asked me if she could use drawings of me to show off her ability to draw non-Asians in some caricature contest or whatnot. I said sure, and she wanted to take a photo of me to practice with. I did a funny pose, and she said: "I dislike people like this"... So in the end she took a photo of me in a non-funny pose.
Later, one of our common friends mentioned something about a drawing of me, which I said I had never seen or heard of, but after some searching, I could see the caricature result in the background of a Facebook photo of someone we both know.
Later, when I ran into the caricaturist, I was told that this caricature had been very helpful. This was the only drawing of a Westerner at the whole event, so all the foreigners there had no idea what the results would be like at the other caricaturists, and my friend thus got lots of foreigners that bought her services, she said.
Apparently, the other people she had used as models had received their caricatures as gifts a long time ago, but I had been forgotten. Yesterday (a month or so after being told about there being a picture of me too, and that other people had received theirs as gifts), I got my caricature.
I was drawn wearing a shirt that says: "I am not Japanese". I own such a shirt, but the spelling is different and the letters are written from left to right instead of top down as in the drawing. I thought my friend had seen me in that shirt (I wear it often), but she had drawn it based only on rumors, she said.
When I walked home, I stopped by a convenience store near my place to buy some bread for breakfast. The convenience store clerk said: "I see you are walking around with a caricature of yourself. It looks very much like you." The same clerk often comments on strange things he thinks I do (mostly he talks about how weird my t-shirts are, for instance the one in the drawing is based on). So I am doing my part in keeping up the Japanese stereotype of all foreigners being complete weirdos.
Here is a picture of me wearing the shirt. In this case, parts of the Japanese text are covered, so it says: 本人ではありません ("honnin deha arimasen", "I am not the actual person" (as in I am a look-alike or something along those lines) instead of 日本人ではありません ("nihonjin deha arimasen", "I am not Japanese").