Swedish Language Blog

More Nudity in Sweden Posted by on Jul 23, 2010 in Culture

TheLocal.se is a news site in Sweden that focuses on bringing Swedish news to people in English.  It is not always a bastion of investigative journalism, but it can be entertaining and gives a quick overview of the important things happening in Sweden.  It also gives a quick overview of the ridiculous things.

Considering my recent post on nudity and violence in Sweden, I felt it necessary, in the spirit of full disclosure, to point out that a new study has been conducted on nudity in Sweden.  More specifically, toplessness at beaches.

In a stunning article titled Swedish Women Vote to Keep Their Tops On, it seems that 99% of German women are in favor of topless sunbathing whereas only 84% of Swedish women are.  Clearly, the women of Sweden are flaunting their modesty rather than their nudity.  Or something like that.

I haven’t taken any sort of statistics course in about six or seven years, and don’t especially plan to, but 84% of people being in favor of something seems like a clear majority to me.  So the title of the article may be a bit misleading. Both to the women who are concerned about going topless, and to the men who are also concerned about women going topless.  But it does bring us back to those cultural norms.  While Americans might see the Swedes as immodest when it comes to nudity, Germans might view the Swedes as prudes.

I am fascinated by the cultural ideals of a country and how they vary.  Not just between countries that find themselves an ocean apart, but countries that have a long and sordid history together with centuries of close ties.  Like Germany and Sweden.

I am fascinated how stereotypes can take over an identity, like the Swedish stereotype of open sexuality and nudity, while other countries usually associated with a stoic and staid lifestyle, like Germany, can view themselves as more open in the discussion of nudity.

It’s why I travel. Not the nudity.  The different cultural discoveries.  Come on now.

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About the Author: Marcus Cederström

Marcus Cederström has been writing for the Transparent Swedish Blog since 2009. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Scandinavian Studies from the University of Oregon, a Master's Degree in Scandinavian Studies from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and a PhD in Scandinavian Studies and Folklore from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He has taught Swedish for several years and still spells things wrong. So, if you see something, say something.


  1. Kenia:

    now this is fun, swedes considered as “prudes”! =D. I absolutely agree, 84% is a clear majority, and i think that stereotype applies to europeans in general, not only to swedes, so the german numbers are not quite surprising.

  2. Luke (Sydney):

    …sadly it’s still -16% from my expectation!

  3. Daniël:

    I agree with Kenia. I think Europeans in general (especially western Europe) are quite open-minded about nudity.

  4. Rastik:

    It’s hard for anyone to beat Germans in this. FKK (Freikörperkultur) comes from there 🙂

  5. FD:

    I think the Swedes are prude!!! they don’t even go topless on the beach; in France is topless basically the norm, so I conclude that Swedes are more prude than French…

  6. Marcus Cederström:

    @kenia – agreed. I love that 84% in support was actually seen as voting against it.

    @Luke – Im sorry I had to be the one to ruin your dreams

    @Daniël – absolutely agree.

    @Rastik – oooh, a good point!

  7. Marcus Cederström:

    @FD – it is all relative isnt it?

  8. Carl Widger:

    Nudity is the foremost NATURAL Beauty, bar none! It goes back to the begining of life. And was and is God’s Innate Intent for ALL MAN KIND. Most people (99.9 % expotentially) accept it, but are not secure enough in themself, to admit it to others. And that is the fault of the world’s, as most were raised modist out of guilt and jealousy (both which will destroy a life before being seen nude would!)

    Sweden, you rock the nudity, bold and proud. You have to be yourself. Don’t change for peer pressure.

    Love ya Sweden
    Your fellow American
    Carl Widger