An Open Letter to People with a Staring Problem

Dear Creepy Strangers,

I hope you are not offended by my blunt use of the word ‘creepy’ to describe you, though I often get the impression my comfort isn’t one of your concerns.

I used to believe that the bold strangers were those whom were most vocal; you know, who candidly yelled out “compliments” in the form of statements like “Damn girl, you’re pretty as hell” followed by some obscene sexual gesture, or “Hey…hey…HEY! You got a boyfriend?” However my response that was often simply ignoring them or sometimes inevitably laughing at their audacity proved that these strangers were not the creeps, but rather their silent counterparts.

All too often when out in a large group I notice an alarming number of strangers with a staring problem. Now, I will be the first to admit that I am nothing special to look at and cannot figure out the reason for the ridiculous amount of stares I receive. Nonetheless, men and women alike are often guilty of staring for far too long to the point of making me and my company uncomfortable.

Just last night at the local fish fry in Turks and Caicos, I experienced an unsettling number of silent onlookers seemingly observing my mundane habits of eating and talking with friends. There was a man in a red polo shirt who I found staring at me every time I looked up from eating dinner. He didn’t stop staring when we made eye contact, and that only increased my discomfort.

Similarly, a woman donning a bright green shirt, likely a fellow tourist, maintained her gaze for so long that the friend I was with pointed it out to me before I noticed it myself. Though her incessant staring appeared to be harmless, it only added to the numerous others I encountered doing the same thing.

The man with the red polo shirt often walked inexplicably close to me at various times throughout the evening, and although these gestures were not nearly as abrasive as the aforementioned cat callers, I  found myself more uncomfortable around this silent, staring stranger.

I become more conscious of my actions and often feel discouraged from innocently dancing and enjoying myself because I assume it will only attract more unwanted eyes.

Perhaps I’m naive in believing that most of us were taught at a young age the impolite nature of staring at others. I’ve seen numerous tips for women on how to deal with crass outspoken men, but I’ve yet to discover a realistic solution to ridding the psychical and corporeal discomfort experienced from these creepy strangers who stare at me for far too long.

Unless I am doing something explicitly embarrassing or have food on my face, the unwanted looks will remain just that. A true example of actions speaking louder than words, the prolonged stares undoubtedly creep me out and make me feel more unfairly objectified than most cat calls have ever made me feel. The silent onlooker’s intentions  and motives remain a mystery and that mysterious nature causes a lasting discomfort that cannot be resolved with pitying laughter or a turn of the head.

From me to you, creepy people, please reconsider your mysterious and uncomfortable actions and remember the wise words of author Bryant McGill, “Good manners are appreciated as much as bad manners are abhorred.”

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