Ignorance is bliss – a phrase commonplace in everyday life and a phrase I successfully shot dead in the water when I went traveling. It’s no longer unusual for a teenager to fly off and see the world, and so I felt confident in my capability to travel safely, just as my friends and siblings had before me. I refused to adopt a blasé attitude, stocking up on every medicine Boots had to offer, purchasing a very inconspicuous and horrifically un-stylish fanny pack and forking out for overcompensating insurance cover. Unfortunately, what no online traveling guide or experienced friend could advise me was to bring with me my common sense. As soon as I left the plane I went straight to the water fountain to hydrate myself and put on a pair of shorts. Whilst I’ll save you from the details of the former, my inconsiderate clothing in the long term was probably the main cause of the majority of my distress abroad.
“Bad skin”, “Go Home” and “Cover up” were phrases commonly directed at us, followed by the tuts of men and the sniggers of women as my group (made up of 15 English teenage girls) roamed the streets of Morocco. Whilst at first we tried to laugh off the comments, I think we soon all became ashamed of our ignorance, especially those amongst us which had raided the short department of Topshop, where flashing some bum cheek was classed as fashion.
The abuse and rejection from the Moroccan civilians in less touristy areas was met by a mixed response from our group. On the one hand, English girls may need more education on how fashion should be used to leave something to the imagination. Also, as visitors to their country, we all felt rather ignorant about our lack of awareness of their culture and religion. But on the other hand, it was bloody hot.
It has been suggested that the Zanzibar acid attack on Trup and Gee was motivated by locals disagreeing with their scant wardrobe choices, which really emphasises the importance of travelers being aware of other cultures not only out of respect, but also for their own safety. So, whilst I don’t want to comment on Islamic culture or religion, I can comment on fashion. You can tan those legs up when you’re on the safety of your private balcony, but if you want to be met with smiles not sneers, then invest in a scarf and maxi skirt!
Don’t believe the rumors, if you show off a bit of skin you won’t be bought at the price of 3 camels, you’ll be asked to leave the country.