The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Monday, July 14, 2003  

. . . And Their Dirty Underwear

I’ve long been interested in Scandinavia and things Scandinavian. I’d like to travel there someday, maybe take a cruise through the fjords, then move on to Oslo, Goteborg, Copenhagen, and Stockholm, eventually crossing the gulf to Helsinki.

I’ve studied the region’s history and languages some (Did you know Vikings established Kiev in the Ukraine?), and would like to get to know the countries better. And the people, too, because while I’ve met many interesting and likable Scandinavians over the years, their cultural mindset, at least as expressed through their media and through public pronouncements by political figures and celebrities, often reeks of a smug self-righteousness that I’m willing to concede is probably a distortion of reality, though I can’t be sure.

With that lingering suspicion in mind, it was with some measure of comic relief that I read two stories juxtaposed in a recent issue of Aftenposten, the popular Oslo newspaper.

As many readers are already aware, the United Nations recently ranked Norway first among all nations in its standard of living. “Norwegians beat out all others because of their high levels of education, pay[,] and life expectancy,” Aftenposten reports. (“U.N.: ‘It’s Best to Live in Norway’,” by Nina Berglund, July 8. [Ed.: Linked article is in English.])

Fine. All very well and good. Congratulations. Can’t wait to check it out.

But then there’s this: “Norwegians with high levels of education apparently don’t change their underpants as often as those with less education. An unusual survey has charted local underwear habits,” according to a separate article in Aftenposten. (“Survey Airs Some Dirty Laundry,” by Nina Berglund, July 8. [Ed.: Linked article is in English.])

The survey, conducted by AC Nielsen for Norwegian underwear maker Dovre, questioned 1,000 Norwegians between the ages of 20 and 60....

Seven percent of those questioned said they only change their underpants once a week, sometimes even less often.

Four percent, on the other hand, said they change their underpants twice a day.

Middle-aged respondents, aged 41 to 50, were the least likely to change regularly. Those aged 18 to 30 were most likely, with 73 percent in that age group changing their underwear daily....

Overall, the survey also showed that 11 percent of Norwegians change their underwear two to three times a week. Another 18 percent change four to six times a week, while 58 percent change daily.

Only a small majority changes underwear daily.

One word: Disgusting.

Here’s another nugget from the same story:

Eva Finseth of Dovre told newspaper Bergens Tidende that single persons also appeared to change their underwear more often than those who were part of a couple.

So . . . Yet another argument against heterosexual marriage?

[Post-publication addendum (July 15): Why I love Andrew Northrup of the Poor Man: Found here.]

[Post-publication addendum (July 18): For more on this subject, see Sleeping With Norwegians and 48 Hours Later… on the letters page.]

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