Sometimes I forget about Scandinavian stereotypes. And sometimes I forget that there is often a basis for those stereotypes. And sometimes it takes a bunch of international student trying to learn a Scandinavian language to point those differences out.
I am somewhere between red-headed and blonde-headed. I do not have blue eyes. I am half-way tall. I am pushing 200 pounds. I have broad-ish shoulders. In short, I can look the Swedish part if needed, although I may be a bit broad overall to be completely convincing. But this isn’t meant to be some sort of weird personal ad, although, ladies, I do enjoy a sad country song. You know, because I’m sensitive.
The point is that a certain look is expected from Swedes, and Scandinavians in general. That look is tall. Blonde or red-headed. Blue eyes. And little kids are expected to be either well-dressed or running around naked with their blonde hair and blue eyes.
So when I found myself in front of a delicious Danish ice cream shop teeming with small children none of this was in my mind. At all. I Was focused on my rapidly melting ice cream and the copious amounts of whipped cream and strawberry jam running down the sides.
What I saw in front of me was background noise. Just a bunch of Danes and Swedes enjoying ice cream and sunlight. As anyone should really. Until one of the several eastern Europeans I was with decided to chime in. About the children. In a good way. But it was a simple comment. Look at all the blonde hair! And the blue eyes! And so I did.
And he was right. They all had blonde hair. And they all had blue eyes. Every. Single. Child. While there were a couple of siblings in the group, not all of them were related. The numerous pairs of harried parents gave that away in a heartbeat.
Today at the beach, in one of those rare summer days when the sun is warm, the water is warm, and the ice cream is cold, there were little kids nakedly running around on the beach. And they were all blonde. Again. Every. Single. Child.
I don’t remember being two years old and running around in Sweden, but I’ve seen pictures. And I fit the bill. I was blonde blonde. Cute too. I don’t know what happened. It all went downhill from about the age of six. When my family moved to the US. Coincidence? Maybe.
But it’s quite the image when walking through town, or sitting on a beach, or riding a train, and realizing that all those kids running around really are blonde. Really are blue-eyed. Really are fitting every Swedish stereotype. It isn’t always that way. It doesn’t always stay that way. But next time you’re out enjoying the Swedish (or in my case, Danish) sun, look around. You may find yourself surrounded by living stereotypes.
Welcome to S(candinavia). And blonde hair and blue eyes.
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