JTT: How Not to Look like an American in Foreign Lands
We here at BreachBangClear are unapologetically American patriots. However, not everyone in the world shares our love of ‘Murica. There are certainly times and places to be a loud and proud American in a foreign land, the best of which involves breaching teams and lots of trigger pullers. But Americans traveling outside our borders for work or pleasure are often targets not just for terrorism and kidnapping but an assortment of other crimes such as robbery and thievery.
If you don’t speak the language or have a heavy accent when you do, your American-ism will come right to the forefront as soon as you open your mouth; however, victim selection usually occurs before any words are exchanged (if any even are). If you’re a 6’3″ white dude running around in Southeast Asia you may think that these rules don’t apply, but you’d be wrong. You could be seen as a Westerner, to be sure, but not specifically an American. And that can make a difference to people like the Abu Sayyaf Group.
This isn’t an all-encompassing list of ways to avoid skylining yourself in foreign countries, and doesn’t cover behaviors, but it will certainly get you started on the looks end of the spectrum.
It’s been said that even a good costume falls apart with the wrong shoes. And so it goes with trying to come off as a non-American to a casual observer. In this country bright tennis shoes are quite a popular choice for most any activity, but the same can’t be said about the rest of the world. Choose something comfortable, to be certain, but leave the neon trainers for the gym. Additionally, skip the white socks as well and instead opt for black/grey or earth tones. There are many lower-key comfortable options that can be had from popular manufacturers.
Avoid Ball Caps
In many parts of the world, especially Europe, a baseball cap is a dead giveaway for an American. Even other Westerners don’t generally wear them–and certainly not backwards or emblazoned with logos from NCAA sports teams.
Jeans are becoming more popular around the world, but not baggy, wrinkled, or ill-fitting ones. Leave your ‘laundry day’ jeans back home. Flat-front lightweight cotton slacks (read: not sweatpants or yoga pants) are usually a safe bet, but nothing with cargo pockets. Shorts can be OK in some locales, but not having them isn’t going to hurt unless you’re on the beach.
No American References or Bold American Brands
No American flags, American sports jerseys, or The North Face (the latter is okay if you’re climbing in Chile but not roaming in Rome). You get the idea.
No Oakleys or Giant Beards
…unless you’re operating operationally in Indian country.
Watch Your Watch
Big, rubbery sports watches are an American phenomenon. Get a cheap leather-banded watch from Amazon or eBay or go without.
→An average outfit from Banana Republic, H&M, or The Limited in neutral tones will take you far in many locales around the world.
Be Observant, and Be Vigilant
Vigilant against potential threats, and observant about what locals are wearing and how they’re accessorizing. Change your dress accordingly and always buy adornments like scarves or similar in local, non-tourist shops.
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About the Author: Richard “Swingin’ Dick” Kilgore is half of the most storied celebrity action figure team in the world (and the half that doesn’t prefer BBWs). He believes in American Exceptionalism, America, holding the door for any woman (lady or whore) and the idea that you should be held accountable for what comes out of your fucking mouth. Swingin’ Dick has been a warrior gyrovague for many years now and is, apparently, impossible to kill — he once had a complete body transplant after an IED hit the gun truck in which he was riding. True story, one of the Cav guys mailed his head and arm home. Swingin’ Dick comes from a long line of soldiers and LEOs (his Great Uncle commanded an Air Cav battalion in Vietnam and his many times removed great grandfather was one of the few original Burt Mossman era Arizona Rangers). Swingin’ Dick detests Joy Behar and Chris Matthews almost as much as he enjoys traveling the world to crush crime vice and evil. He believes the opportunity to lead eeeelight team of Breach Bang Clear minions is the most improbably awesome thing an action figure has ever done and he’s immensely proud of his perfect hair.
Loyalty and respect should start from the top down.