16 December 2009

Disarming Glances and Warm Scarves

Eye Contact
Before you jump to conclusions and assume that this Copenhagener is cross or angry, consider the fact that she just may be glancing to her right.

Consider also that the steely glare of Nordic women may appear cross to other cultures, but when you know it [all too well] you are aware that it may contain a dozen different emotions and expressions. It is disarming and quite fantastic.
Wintry Chic

23 comments:

malefue said...

whoa, no.1 looks pretty pissed.


great blog btw, greetings from austria! :)

Jane said...

I'm wondering, do you ask people's permission before taking their picture or do you ever talk to them after you take their picture? What if they don't want their picture on your blog, how would they know if you've taken it incognito?

Mikael said...

Jane, it's street photography, not portrait photography. It's social documentary.

In three years noone has requested their photo removed but I've recieved many requests from people who have seen themselves or friends on the blog and who wanted to have a copy of the photo in hires.

I oblige, of course.

Oldfool said...

As a certified geezer I am still susceptible to pretty girls no matter what age. To just see the kind of beauty you present there would make my heart run lighter for the day. To be looked at would probably cause it to skip a beat. To be smiled at would cause my knees to buckle and I would fall off my bike.
Your pictures cause me great envy but I can't stop.

Anonymous said...

Aaaah... That cold, steely, blue nordic eyes...

Being a dark haired, dark eyed spanish man, walking around the streets in Copenhaguen is like being in paradise.

Kiwehtin said...

This "glare" makes me smile because I had a little cross-cultural adjustment to do years back when I was learning Russian. When her students were talking to her, our Russian teacher would inevitably narrow her eyes, an expression I wasn't quite used to seeing in this context. In my North American culture it generally communicates that the person is angry or suspicious, or maybe having trouble understanding. So there was a certain awkwardness there whenever you were talking to her in your still quite imperfect Russian.

Not that very long afterwards, I came across an article somewhere that talked about a common facial expression among Russian women that often caused cross-cultural misunderstandings: narrowed eyes. It turned out, according to the article, that it was just a way of showing you are paying attention and are interested in what the other person is saying to you.

Anonymous said...

are all the women in Copenhagen beautiful or just the ones that happen upon your camera?
thanks for the lovely pics.
in response to the previous posters comments on Russian women, my signifigant other is slavic and we have had trouble with my interpreting her "glare" as either her being unhappy or the like. Im still getting used to the look.

Mikael said...

ah, the russian stare... don't even get me started.

i was living in moscow back in 1990 and was there in 1992 and that stare... disarming isn't the word. being a western man in the soviet union at that time i knew the stare showed interest, but i never figured out how to react.

kurtz said...

Behavior learned from winters of squinting in the daytime snow?

Anonymous said...

Despite how proud you seem to be of yourself as well as, alternately, your "bike culture" & lack of need for "bike culture", your objectification of women, and your insistence on fashion and beauty while cycling, are pretty creepy.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was going to be a Tiger Woods joke............Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Please discuss the dozens of different emotions and expressions on display when these Nordic women glare at you and then flip you off.

Swashbuckling Dandy said...

That look means "There's that creep again" in any language. You may fool yourself with your nonsense, but that's about all. You have been fortunate so far that none of your "subjects" have been carrying five irons.

Mikael said...

Thanks for these 'interesting' opinions from these American guests.

Mikael said...

But really, this is just yet another example of the cycling 'purists' and 'enthusiasts' who use ill-disguised snarky comments to vocalise their disdain for the mainstreaming of cycling.

I spoke about this at my lecture at Transportation Alternatives in New York last September. It is much the same attitude that the world experienced over 100 years ago when the wealthy white upperclass saw the advent of the 'safety bicycle' and the subsequent boom in popularity of the bicycle among women and the working classes.

The 'elite' were seen riduculing them and even spitting on them in the streets.

History repeats itself once again. Fortunately, mainstreaming urban cycling and making it accessible to the masses is more important than the whining of the 'purists'.

Anonymous said...

this blog is a beautiful blog. it shows the rest of us what cyling can and should be.

and as for beauty and beautiful cyclists, this recent post is gorgeous.

but i doubt these commenters bothered to look further.

elle.

Another André said...

Mikael, I don't think your assessment of the comments as being from "purists" is accurate. I believe your are witnessing a philosophy that differs from yours. To some people, taking pictures of individuals without their permission is a form of invasion of privacy. Since most of the pictures are of younger women (20s and 30s) this may be interpreted as a form of voyeurism. To others the pictures are a form of art. They demonstrate the elegance that can accompany the everyday usage of the bicycle. The former will move on to other blogs, the latter will continue to look forward to the daily pleasure the blog provides.

I'll see you tomorrow.

Mikael said...

it's also a cultural thing, depending on region/country.

but tell me, what are we up to tomorrow?

lagatta à montréal said...

It is hard to tell from a small photo, but to me the top photo looks like an attractive 40-something, not a young girl. This is a site about cycling style and chic, after all. Though I do like photos of men, and of older people on bicycles, many of whom are worthy of the Sartorialist. The more "serious" site on cycling, urbanist and envrionmental issues is copenhagenize.com

As for privacy laws concerning street photography, they vary country to country. They can be rather strict in Francophone countries, for example.

One of the purposes of this site and its followers, as I've read them, is to counteract the sweaty macho image of the lycra lout.

Another André said...

It isn't often you get the words "macho" and "lycra" together in the same sentence. :-)

Anonymous said...

My comment about your self-satisfaction and creepiness have nothing to do with being a "cycling purist" (which I am not). I am all in favor of the mainstreaming of cycling and public policy and infrastructure to 'normalize' cycling as a form of transportation. In fact, I feel that you are more of a "purist" in that you are intolerant of others' choice of dress (eg lycra) & bike (eg road bikes), or the use of bicycles for anything but transportation. Why must you insist on an either/or approach? Just as one wouldn't wear a shorts and sneakers to walk to work, why does it bother you that someone might wear those clothes and go for a run?

My comment about your creepiness is based on your obsession with female beauty as an object, and perhaps even the goal, of cycling.

Finally, your comment about the location of objectors as being in America and thus somehow invalid demonstrates an offensive essentialist view of those who disagree with you, as well as a pretty ridiculous assumption that anyone posting from the US is necessarily from this country or even lives here.

Scott said...

To be fair, we are terrible at using bicycles in the USA.

Mikael said...

have a lovely holiday season!