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Exoticization is one way of dealing with human diversity. It is generally less offensive than many other attitudes to difference - most people would rather be seen as exotic than just sick, or wrong - but it's a long way from normalization. Fundamentally, it is a form of othering, and while it can have undoubted advantages for the exoticized party - gosh, you're so interesting! - many people find it annoying when people see their differences more clearly than who they are as a person. Exoticization risks being patronizing, dehumanizing or intrusive, and can shade into fetishization.

People living in foreign countries are the most obvious and literal targets of exoticization - see Edward Said on Orientalism, for example, and consider representations of all sorts of foreign cultures in fiction and the media, going at least as far back as the hazy ideas about China manifested by the Arabic writers of Aladdin. It is something of a cheap trick for making your readers or viewers go 'oo' - not without its value, but dangerously easy to get offensively wrong.

Much the same phenomenon affects almost everyone who differs from the norm in whatever population they find themselves in, though - the transgendered, non-heterosexual, physiologically or neurologically different, unusually-coloured, people with uncommon religious beliefs or diets, and so on and so on.

Some people actively trade on how interestingly different they are perceived as being, knowingly or unknowingly; I've been told a British accent will get me far in certain parts of the USA, and few people are going to complain about people being nicer to them for reasons that have nothing to do with them personally, even though 'positive' prejudice can be deceptively close to its flipside. This probably explains the fact that it is not uncommon to exaggerate or even create differences, and many people report feeling more British, or whatever, when they live away from the country of their birth.

Often, though, people eventually get extremely bored of having the same conversations again and again and again. I met a girl once who had dyed her hair a spectacular shade of purple, and she enjoyed the attention it garnered her at first, but she dyed it back to black once she realized that every person she met wanted to talk about it. Not all differences are so easy to erase. Many people do their best to lose the accents they grew up with because they get so bored with the 'So, where are you from?' conversation, with varying degrees of success. There is a lot to be said for relishing the differences between us - but clumsy expressions of such appreciation run the risk having a profoundly alienating or homogenizing effect.