Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Danes

During orientation several of the staff have alluded to "the statistic", which is that since the DIS program started in 1959 something like two DIS and four DIS-Dane couples get married every year. When some of us were recounting this at lunch yesterday, you could see the eyes bug out on one of the guys at the table. "Are you serious? I hope it's me! I mean, look at the women on the street. Not that I have marriage on the mind, but I sure wouldn't mind marrying most of them. And the people in this program, too - I've never been in a place with so many beautiful people."

This is possibly the most common comment by students this week - how beautiful the Danes are. I had heard it, but I didn't really understand until I got here. The people you see - I mostly notice the women, but I guess it applies somewhat to men - have these wonderful stylish clothes. Not trendy-trendy, but just really good-looking. At home a twenty-year-old blonde gets some kind of attention walking down a street: in the suburbs random men honk their horns or yell or whatever, and in most parts of the city I look out of place because I'm white. Here I've realized that it's the first place I've been where I can walk around and go completely unnoticed because the streets are full of beautiful people, most of them blond.

Simon and I used to debate whether people whose hobby/obsession was clothes, shoes, etc. were inspirational or just made other people feel bad. While I'm here as long as I know I don't look awful I don't feel the need to live up to the image of the women on the street. (Of course, this is a good thing because you've never seen so many tall willowy people with flaxen hair. They, unlike me, would look good if they were wearing a burlap sack.) It's not like being a losing competitor - it's like being in a work of art every time I'm on the street or in a store.

The problem is that it seems kind of useless for foreigners to put much effort into becoming part of it. A woman wearing red high heeled sandals and a gorgeous print dress while riding her bicycle down the street from work is part of the work of art - she's just an average mom on her way home from work. And she's a joy to look at. But if she did the same thing in Richmond she would look out of place, as if she were making too much of an effort. Men would yell at her (aside from nearly running her over with their pickups because her bike lane wouldn't exist in Richmond.) As Mandi from my Russian class, the most stylish girl I know, said, she just can't go into academia because what would the point be? Her students wouldn't appreciate how fabulous she is.


Anonymous said...

wait--can I comment? is this working?

Anonymous said...

oooh--yes it is! that was me by the way! yay for pretty people with flaxen hair! and for pretty ladies in red dresses on bikes. my grandma always says american's are ugly--and while i'm sure it's not true for everyone, i'm sure it's nice to see people really taking care of their appearance. enjoy the herring! love, roomie