So we were in the US last week, or now two weeks ago, and we brought some Swedish family with us. One was a teenage girl with blue hair. She had colored it herself, but it was a really nice tone of blue that suited her well. (It also made her really easy to spot in a crowd, so was great for trips to the mall or pick-ups).
Every day, at least one random person came up to her and said 'Wow, great hair!' Or asked her how she got her hair that particular color because it was so nice. Or stopped to chat.
And they were people of all ages, men and women, of all different races. It was pretty funny to see just how much attention she got over her blue hair.
She had blue hair in Sweden for weeks before she came to the US. Not one person ever commented on it. She has been back now for two weeks, and still, 'no comment.'
I haven't spent a lot of time imagining the difference between being 16 in the US and Sweden. I spent some time here in Sweden as a teen, but it has been awhile.
In the US, teenagers get a LOT of attention. Not all of it is wanted. Sometimes it can be nice. Sometimes it can be angry making.
And then there are the landscapers that always honk, the construction workers that always whistle. The random guys who stop you on the street and ask 'You lookin' for dates?' as if the street was where you might perform this sort of activity.
I used to say if you were really desperate, you only needed to go down to the Jersey Shore on a Saturday night and walk ten feet in a tank top and shorts. I'm pretty sure the same thing is true today, for anyone under 25. But usually the type of people you meet there, aren't the type of people you want to meet.
In Sweden there are no guys at the bar trying to subtly, or not so subtly, slip five dollars to the bartender to pay for your drink. You don't need to chase them off by forcing your money into the bartender's hand because you don't want to owe that guy anything.
But at the same time, it is nice to be noticed. To talk to people and have them take an interest in you. None of the conversations my Swedish guest had were inappropriate or made her feel uncomfortable.
She got the best of things, without having to deal with the worst of it.