Well, we're coming up to the 4th July, which is making me ponder a superficial question. What makes an American look American? I only know that they stick out like a sore thumb in a crowd of other nationalities. My son does not look 'American' to me. yet he has lived all his life here.
Americans to me always seem a bit more confident, and simultaneously a bit more wholesome and naive than other nationalities. They talk a little louder and move a little faster. And seem a little more oblivious to nuance, though having lived here for a while, I think sometimes this is a conscious choice rather than cluelessness. These are not necessarily bad things - I grew up in an atmosphere where people were crippled by nuance, and not wanting to draw attention to themselves.
Then of course, there are superficial matters like clothing and hair and makeup. I pretty much refuse to wear athletic shoes as everyday shoes, and always will; I will not wear baggy clothing because I like my shape even though I'm fat and ought to feel ashamed of it; I think a little makeup is better than both none or the full works; I hate khakis; I take great care not to get tan. I think all of these things make me look un-American.
I think Americans prize looking casual, informal, active and approachable, no matter what their station in life is. I think they like to look like they have a lot of leisure time, which of course they don't, as they work harder than anyone else. I know this is a hugely broad stereotype, but it is kind of fun to paint with large strokes sometimes.
Not entirely off-topic, Susie Bright had a couple of totally brilliant posts lately: How to Ruin a Women's Sex Life in 30 days or less and The Straight Man's Guide to Lousy Sex. Not that I have anything to ruin, but I thought these posts were both hilarious and perceptive, and unfortunately, I have known both that woman and that man, and even more unfortunately, I have known that man in the biblical sense, which was as bad as you might imagine.