Though they ARE polite and friendly.
These are the findings of two recent studies. First, Melbourne’s Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute released its shocking news that Australia has now surpassed the USA as the world’s fattest people with 26% of adult Australians now obese.
The second study came courtesy of Expedia’s Best Tourist Survey, which polled more than 4000 hoteliers and found that Australians are the 6th Best Tourists (the Japanese were number 1), with our strengths being we are “generous and polite”, while our weaknesses are that we are badly dressed and reluctant to eat local cuisine.
After a month travelling in Europe it kills me to say I have to agree with both of these. In fact, I journaled about the exact same thing in Paris.
We Aussies have a lot going for us, but thinness and great fashion sense are not two of them
It’s not that we’re unattractive people exactly because Australian men, in particular, stack up pretty well against their European counterparts. While beauty is a matter of opinion, Aussie men in my age group do tend to be tall and well built, and have an appealing casual masculinity about them.
It’s a different story when it comes to clothes, though. It is a rare sight to see a straight Aussie male with a strong sense of fashion and any distinctive flair. In fact, it’s probably considered pansy to be really well dressed in most of the country. The metrosexual fad did take off a bit in Sydney and Melbourne, but most Australian men would never admit to using moisturizer or colouring their hair or struggling with what to wear on a night out.
Unfortunately, I cannot say Australian women compare as well in the beauty stakes. Our dainty European sisters are much more likely to be stylishly attired, enviably slender, carefully made up, and in Spain, tottering around on beautiful heels. It was enough to have me examining my wardrobe with new eyes and feeling like I needed to give up food and get my ass to the beauty salon quick smart. I’ve only been to a beauty salon 3-4 times in my life and what self respecting French woman can say that?
Feeling Ugly in Europe
The disappointing thing was this time I swore it would be different. Ten years ago I came to Europe as a backpacker and I have never felt so ugly in my life. The French and the Italians, in particular, made me feel like the worst dressed heifer around. Even my sister, who’s quite beautiful, felt over sized and self conscious. Khakis and t-shirts are no match for French chic and high heels.
This trip, however, I thought I’d be prepared. I certainly packed enough clothes! But in Spain I found myself marveling at how the women could eat chocolate croissants for breakfast and eat so much fattening tapas while staying so slim and shapely. And except in Sevilla, I never saw them exercising either. It was infuriating.
And don’t talk to me about Paris. I actually put a bit of care into what I was going to wear my two whole days there and when I left the hotel I thought I had done well. Nicely dressed (see the last picture of me at the Arc de Triomphe), but still comfortable and able to run after a four year old intent on terrorizing pigeons.
It didn’t work. As soon as I got onto the metro and looked around at the other women I felt terrible. Too tall. Too fat. Too casual. Too cumbersome. Too blah. The Parisians are unbelievably thin and oh so elegant. They can make a white blouse and jeans look amazing. In the same outfit I’d just look boring. A large part of their style I think comes from the fact that they are so thin. Their faces, necks and bodies have these angular lines which manage to not look emaciated and make them the perfect clothes hanger.
Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Body Confidence
Confidence and posture also plays a large part in the allure of a Parisian woman. They walk like they’re floating on a pink, puffy cloud. Like they are a Queen and everybody should just bow down and worship at their designer heeled feet. It’s a lesson us Aussies could learn from the French. Think you’re gorgeous and you are.
We could also learn a thing or two about portion control. The Spanish and the French may eat food which is rich and high in calories, but their meal sizes are much smaller. Food is savoured and nibbled on. Drinks last for ages. Conversation and company is just as important as the meal itself.
Australians eat too much, too quickly. We too often gobble our food without tasting it. There is less appreciation for fine ingredients and the art of cooking. We agonize over calories, but manage to get fatter as a population with every passing year. Something has to change, but that’s a whole other subject…
There is an Upside
It’s not all bad news, though. As I said, Australians are known for being very polite, friendly and generous people. We’re also very casual, fun and straight forward. What you see is what you get. Aussie men and women may be less stylish, but I’m thinking that means we’re more real. We have substance.
And if you want a guy/girl with a natural look, who’s more interested in having a good time than peering at themselves in the mirror or worrying about their hair, then come Down Under. There’s lots of babes for you to choose from. Just look at me!
The first terrible photo of me was taken by Musicman in Granada – someone give that girl a hairbrush!
Photo2 by ri.co