Orange Ladies And Beardy Boys

I came back to work last week and two things were immediately apparent.

First, all the orange ladies on the subway. This is a yearly phenomenon – the Swedes returning from their summer-houses, showing off their newly scorched skin. You notice it most on older ladies. Their skin is practically orange, wrinkled and leathery and disturbing. Some of them are so lined they look like fucking Yoda, but, you know, more orange.

While I understand that the Swedes grab whatever sun is going, I fail to see why they would want to damage their skin like this. They lounge around in the parks and beaches, in blazing sunshine and without sunblock, and then wonder why they get skin cancer. Deeply wrinkled, sun-blasted skin isn’t attractive, or healthy, and doesn’t even show status, as summer houses are seen almost as a human right over here.

So why do they do it? Beats me. But if you want to see one, now is the time.

Then there’s the beards. I’m now in the minority at work regarding facial hair. Most men in my office are bearded. It especially noticeable among men in the 25 to 32 age range. Two thirds of them now have beards. It’s like a bloody seventies folk concert.

This thing with huge beards on younger men has taken off to a ridiculous degree in Sweden. It was very noticeable when I went to Herräng dance camp for a week, and saw young men from lots of countries. They were all much less beardy than the young Swedes. It brought home again what a terribly conformist place Sweden can be.

Why is it like this? Because beards on young men is trendy, and Swedes go for trends in the same way that sharks go for icebergs made of spam. They claim to cherish their individuality, which they then express by striving to look exactly the same.

Not the same as each other, mind you. Just the same as whatever subculture they’ve decided they belong to. Be it punks, hipsters, slackers, whatever. You can be unique here as long as you are unique in a very clearly defined way.

Now I’m a big fan of facial hair, but this is all just a bit sad. If you like beards, then have one, regardless of what the rest of the world is doing. Just stop shaving, and presto.

I give it a couple of years. Once the football players start shaving, young Swedish men will shed their facial hair. Beards, after all, can be removed. But I can’t say the same for the swarms of young women with colorful and messy tattoos sleeves on their arms and shoulders. They might have a tad more trouble getting over this particular trend. And let’s see how those things look when they’re pushing 60.

As for the idiots with the discs in their earlobes … well, let’s not even go there.

/ paddy

18 thoughts on “Orange Ladies And Beardy Boys

  1. I’ve discussed this in , in short, it seems to me the sheepy Swedes are going in a different direction, the orange people are not as numerous as they used to be. Orange skin must not be a sign of high status any more Now, the question is why. (Not discussing the subject of Swedes doing everything in groups)
    The dangers of skin cancer? (ie the people tanning too much don’t take in information, thus may be seen as stupid)
    Racism? (a lot of people were already born with a much better sun tan and the whites don’t want to be mistaken for one of them)
    Welfare (almost anyone can afford a trip to a sunny place these days, not just the wealthy)
    Let’s hope it’s the first reason

    • I guess I can’t measure orangeness over time, as I’ve only been here 15 years. However, the most intelligent (white) people are the ones who are pale. Ahem.

      • well, young man, that would be the period of time i’m talking about. and as you yourself observed, you notice it most on older ladies

  2. I believe most Swedes are aware of the danger. Guess much of the orange colour comes from use of Brown Without Sun Cream, at least mine does. It’s an easy and instant way to escape pale ghostlegs :)

      • It’s nothing wrong with pale ghost-legs but I do think a touch of tan looks fresher. Besides, brown-without-sun cream is no great lenghts. It takes 2 minutes to put on and do wonders for a vain womans self esteem.

  3. Beards do seem to slowly follow a trend cycle in Sweden. In this case, I’m afraid it is I who started this round of the cycle. Some years ago I was cleanshaven. As was everybody else. Looking myself in the mirror, I decided I looked so wimpy I had to get a beard. As the years went by, I noticed that slowly more and more men were getting a beard. Presently people have stopped calling out “Hi there, Usama” to me, or asking “Is it something religious”, so I suppose you are right, the trend is slowly turning.

    As for the idiots with the discs in their earlobes, why not go there? After all, they are not idiots, they are only being tribal. I suppose you are talking about those guys who have put a big ring in their earlobes, (not hanging it from the lobe), thereby making a gigantic hole in the lobe. That is a traditional african fashion, and thus quite valid to use. You just wait until we swedes take the next step, and use metal rings to extend our necks an extra foot or so. That’s exquisitely tribal, and oh so right… :-)


    • So it’s YOUR fault. Now we know.

      And sure, earlobes are fine. If you’re a tribesperson with a traditional of ear discs. But if you’re a hipster from Stockholm, well, why? And boy are those ear gonna look shit when the discs go out of fashion.

    • “Just stop shaving, and presto.”

      Thank you, Colin. I should have seen that one myself. :-)

      I have my own ways of coping with my beard when eating.

      The Kleenex method: If I need more than four Kleenex to wipe myself off while eating a hamburger, then it’s time to trim down the beard.

      The Spaghetti method: If I find myself chewing on my beard when eating spaghetti, then it’s time to trim down my beard.


  4. I agree with you – the swedes are sadly conformist. I must say though, that the bearded-men-phenomenon seems to be more of a trend(/problem) in Sweden’s largest cities. Walk on the trendiest Södermalm-streets and you can count the men with no beard on one hand. Then walk (like I do each summer) in Bollnäs and they are not as visible. Having a beard like on the photo above on Södermalm wouldn’t really cause much staring, but in Bollnäs i guess it would.

    There, the beard (if there at all) usually goes along with owning a 60’s american car. Other styles of facial hair are much more frequent. Like a big, hanging mustache…. Often combined with a big (BIG) car and some hunting dogs. Erik and I met one of those driving in the woods late one night and got the evil eye. Brr.

    • I think you might be right. It does seem to be very much New York wannabe big city thing. Along with fixed-gear bikes and huge black glasses. The Södermalm hipster is indeed a very sad creature.

  5. but…as you start with: WHEN SUN COME (if) we run out and undresses to absorb every foton of the bliss. The poor villains who did not, is now extinct because of rachitis. Those who did got old enough to breed. Darwin would have been proud!

  6. Witness the _Beard Day_ in Gothenburgh, where swedish beards were documented for posterity. (in swedish)

    And the best thing is: they will do it again, in Stockholm! Saturday september 29:th, at Grandpa, in Kungsholmen, fairly central in Stockholm.

    “Lördag 29/9 mellan 11 och 16 gör vi om alltihop på Grandpa Kungsholmen i Stockholm. Vi återkommer strax med mer info, grymma grejer är på gång!”

    The Movement lives!


  7. yeah, people who look like their group follow ‘trends.’ that’s why when you visit a small town in the southern United States or a Puerto Rican neighborhood in NYC everyone looks the same. It’s only those darned hipster beardy boys who all supposedly look the same. “Hipsters” are the polar opposite of all those non-trend-following businessmen in suits in offices and football fans who suspiciously dress similarly, right?

    • The difference being that hipsters imagine they are doing it out of individuality. Businessmen in suits and football fans KNOW they are dressed alike. It’s almost the whole point. And why do you say “hipsters” in quotes? Are you denying that they exist?

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