Why Scandi-Mania Is NOT The New Parisian-Chic

I want to show you the many faces of Scandinavia. We are not a region of blonde, blue-eyed, milk-skinned former Vikings.

Scandinavian style is not the new Parisian-chic; you know, that supposed conflation of wealthy, white, thin beauty that we’re meant to be at once obsessed with and resigned to, for the sad fact that we'll never be able to replicate it.

I have long felt uncomfortable with the media's image of the Parisian woman, which a certain book has triggered a resurgence of. I haven’t read the book so I can’t speak to it, but the media push around it did not assure that the typical (and boring) “Parisian woman” physical attributes had been subverted.

Enter Scandinavia. The general belief is that we’re a region of blonde, blue-eyed, milk-skinned former Vikings, taking years of maternity leave without a care in the world.

I’d like to step away from this generalization and move toward something so much better.

In recent years, Scandinavia has had an influx of immigration. Like much of Western Europe, this has forced the Scandinavian countries to do some soul-searching about their national identities.

It has caused tension, it has brought racism and ethnocentrism to the surface, and it has given strength to radical right wing political parties--but it has also opened up these previously isolationist borders to welcome a more religiously and racially-varied society.

I love living in Denmark (and by extrapolation, Scandinavia, though I recognize that these countries aren’t exactly alike), and there are so many reasons to talk about its beauty and body care culture.

1. The traditions of Scandinavia that are notable worldwide may be trendy now--slow living, buying local, natural, and seasonal products--but in Scandinavia they are foundational. That doesn’t mean we don’t have our fair share of fashions and trends, but there is something immutable in the focus on high-quality, low-impact goods. Items that gain popularity here are almost universally of good quality.

2. There are myriad amazing beauty and self-care lines that focus on natural or organic ingredients--and reusable or recyclable packaging. We want to tell you about them!

3. The Scandinavian aesthetic isn’t about how the consumer looks; it’s about how the products look. That means you get some seriously photogenic items that look beautiful in your home.

Scandinavia is not perfect, but I’ve chosen to make this place my home, and the good, exciting things I see happening here don’t always line up with the media representation of the region.

I want to make sure that when I write about Scandinavia, readers know that I am specifically referring to the changing demographics, the progressive gender politics, and the traditions of craftsmanship, functionality, and minimalist aesthetic. Obviously it’s my job to make those points clear, and this (uh, one sided, at the moment) discussion feels like the right place to start.

As interest in Scandinavia grows, as it seems to be, we’ll be seeing more lists on Scandi beauty, fashion, and design in the glossies or any number of blogs. The more I see, the more I want to cry out, There are so many faces of Scandinavia! Please let us show you.

  • What's your impression of Scandinavian beauty and style?
  • What kinds of articles on Scandinavian beauty would you like to see?
  • Do you have any Scandi beauty products to recommend?