Physical characteristics of Turkish people include olive toned skin, brown hair and eyes, and above average body hair.
Stereotypical character traits of Turkish people are that they are loyal and hospitable, obsessed with health and hygiene, a little bit authoritarian, and very direct.
Of course, stereotypes are not always real. Every individual person has their own freewill and personality. Furthermore, many people with Turkish citizenship have diverse ethnic backgrounds, making the below physical characteristics merely stereotypical.
Physical Characteristics of Turkish People
1. Almond or Hooded Eyes
Perhaps the most distinctive physical trait among Turkish people is eyes that tend to be almond or hooded.
There is a subtle distinction between these two types, but what they have in common is that the eyes will generally be wider rather than perfectly round.
Depending on where they are on the spectrum between almond and hooded eyes, Turkish people may also have a heavier brow which can sometimes conceal much of the upper eyelid.
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2. Brown Hair
Although you may think black hair is common among Turkish people, in reality, most of the population has brown hair.
This hair color covers the entire spectrum between dark brown hair that can be easily mistaken as black and light brown hair that can almost seem like a dirty blond.
Blond hair itself is rarer among Turkish people but not unheard of. Ataturk, the founder of the modern Turkish Republic, was known for having blond hair and blue eyes, for example.
3. Plenty of Body Hair
Turkish men are known for having more body hair which is much denser compared to the average person across the planet.
This body hair is most obviously visible as thick hair on the arms and legs, but Turkish men are also known for having hairy chests and in some cases hairy backs.
This also affects beards, with Turkish men tending to have more complete beard coverage and beard hair that is rather thick and may grow fast.
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4. Southern European Skin Complexion
When talking about the complexion of Turkish people, a lot of people will often describe their skin as Mediterranean, but this does not cover the full picture.
The Mediterranean region covers North Africa and the Levant in the Middle East, which Turkish people are often associated with, but actually, the complexion of Turks is much closer to that of Southern Europeans.
Like the Mediterranean Europeans in Southern Europe, the skin of Turkish people will often be olive toned but not especially dark. This makes it seem darker than pink toned skin, but it is actually the hue that is different, not the level of lightness.
5. Average Heights and Builds Compared to Europeans
The average Turkish person stands around the same height as the range of people across Europe. This is true for both men and women.
Although many Turkish men will gravitate toward strength building, making them appear stockier, the builds of both men and women in Turkey are naturally most comparable to the average builds of Europeans and other people of European descent.
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Stereotypical Character Traits of Turkish People
1. Turkish People Are Extremely Loyal
Turkish culture is very family oriented. This means that Turkish people will stick by their family members through thick and thin.
On the extreme end of this stereotype is the perception that children in Turkish families are permitted to do whatever they want without repercussions.
This perception also extends to friendships. Not only are Turkish people perceived as being very loyal toward their friends, but they will also gauge the possibilities of a new friendship based on whether they have any existing connections in common.
2. Turkish People Are Very Hospitable
Guests are treated with great respect in Turkish culture, and so Turkish people will most likely make you feel welcome when you are visiting their home.
Even if you have only recently gotten to know someone, you may be invited to their place and treated to a delicious meal.
Although there is a large overlap with the perceptions of extreme loyalty, the stereotype of hospitability occupies a very specific niche. When you are a guest or being welcomed to be a guest in a Turkish home, they will offer you this hospitality regardless of whether you are already close or a perfect stranger.
3. Turkish People Are Obsessed With Health and Hygiene
If you do ever find yourself visiting a Turkish home, remember to take your shoes off before you enter deeper into the home.
This ties into a stereotype of Turkish people that they are almost hypochondriacs with regard to health and, by extension, hygiene.
Another way in which this focus on health manifests is with regard to the cold. Many homes in Turkey will even not have air conditioning because of the fear that too much cold air can make the people living there sick. The same is considered true for walking barefoot or being caught in a draught.
4. Turkish People Are Very Hierarchal
This stereotype has varying degrees of truth, depending on where you focus. Although Turkish society is not quite as conservative as a lot of people imagine, it is still steeped in many old traditions, and one of these is a strong respect for natural authority.
Turkish people are perceived as deferring to authority where it is clearly laid out by a hierarchy. This can be an organizational structure of a workplace, where the leaders are followed without much dissent or conflict, or it can be the dynamics of a family, where the head of the family, usually the father, has the final word on what decisions are made.
5. Turkish People Are Very Direct
A less polite version of this stereotype would be that Turkish people are very rude, but what is perceived as rudeness is usually just directness.
It might mean that less words are said than one would expect, or even that responses are given with tuts instead of words.
Although Turkish people will have varying degrees of verbosity, the most notable stereotype is that of the Turk of very few words.
Individual Turkish people will likely look and act very differently to how a lot of people in the world imagine, but there remain some stereotypes based on ethnic origin and cultural history that persist in the cultural zeitgeist.
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education.