Estonians: people of few words and few clothes
I have written at least a few times in the past how Estonians tend to have an issue with expressing their feelings verbally (here and here most recently). Whenever a nation has that kind of a common “issue”, you’d think that they would be a nation that’s really reserved, meek and modest.
Reserved they can be, but meek and modest?
I still am amazed every time I go to the beach there at how everyone is flaunting their bits (and often lots of them) in little bikinis. In other countries you often see large elderly women in the sea with bathing suits that have little skirts and maybe even little ruffles in the middle, but that kind of attire is not to be found in Estonia. In fact, you’d have a hard time to find even the skimpiest bathing suit on a beach in Estonia – it’s always a bikini. No matter your age or size.
I find it a bit confusing as it doesn’t line up with Estonians being emotionally reserved, but I also find it liberating because in wearing a bikini myself I can be sure that I look better in it than 98% of the people around me :)
Now the next place I don’t ever see any reservedness is the swimming pool, or more specifically in the shower rooms at a public swimming pool.
First of all, the signs on the sauna doors say that it’s FORBIDDEN to enter a sauna with your clothes on. I’m all for obeying the rules, so I don’t go into the public saunas at all :) – I have no desire to squeeze my naked bum next to someone else’s naked bum.
Then there are signs on the shower room walls say that one MUST wash herself before entering the pool. What do I do? I shower in my bikini for a minute. What do the reserved “real” Estonians do? They strip naked, lather themselves up and start scrubbing. They vigorously scrub in places that should never be scrubbed that vigorously when in public and especially when chatting to your friend next to you. I can only imagine how stunned the real tourists are when witnessing this.
For men I suspect the situation is similar. In the swimming pool it’s verboten to wear board shorts (!), speedos only. On the beach everyone but the tourists wear speedos as well and probably because a) they have them for the swimming pool anyway and b) that way most of their bodies can get that chocolate tan that most Estonians seem to acquire by mid July at the latest.
So yeah, for my people it’s hard to say “I love you” or “I’ll miss you”, but it’s no problem walking around half naked in broad daylight or stripping totally naked in very close proximity to strangers.
Hmmm…. not even going to try to psychoanalyze all that.