Looking quite different from the average Egyptian is a struggle as you attempt to survive in the concrete jungle of Cairo.

‘Maybe it’s not their fault’, you tell yourself every day as you’re scrutinized from head to toe, for no apparent reason, or occasionally catcalled in the streets while holding the phone to your ear and peacefully strolling down the sidewalk.

The average Egyptian is used to, and only okay with the typical “am7y” complexion, not sure why, but anything different (lighter or darker) will trigger their curiosity way more than it should.

Egypt was once the land of tourism, and some argue it still is. So aren’t Egyptians used to the lighter skinned? It doesn’t look like they are. Which prompted me to reflect on the whole situation…

Surrounded by goblins and goons
the same faces in all rooms
in every corner and sidewalk,
wide eyes gazing and a million mouths talk.
You look down to see,
is there something wrong with me?
“Get me out of here,” you scream.
I am not your every orientalist dream,
I am not a mannequin for your eyes
so don’t look at me like a lion in a cage
because even with my golden mane and lighter skin
I am not a clown on a stage
I am not here for your entertainment or pleasure
so look away because I am clever
I am more than a light haired, light skinned Barbie doll.
It’s not my fault you’re world is small
same colors, appearances and clothes,
not a single unique smile or pose.
Will I ever escape these walls they’ve built and flee?
Or should I allow the entire city to engulf me?

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About The Author

Malak Sekaly

I am a sophomore at The American University in Cairo. An advocate of human rights, I aim to spread awareness on universal issues through my writing. A ballerina, environmentalist, and hypochondriac with OCD, I plan to give voice to those who are silenced. I am not dramatic per say, just an emotional mess cursed with severe overthinking. My points of interest range from the ongoing global calamities to TBS’ new Nutella croissant. My favorite possessions are my neatly arranged novels, and my chewing gum drawer. Resisting my wanderlust is a struggle as Cairo continues to engulf me.