Oktoberfest, the weekslong German celebration dating back to the 1800s is known for beer, traditional Bavarian food and parades, but recently it has become recognized for something else — scantily clad women. At least that’s how some Germans feel.
In a newspaper interview, a Munich-based crime author accused tourists of poorly imitating dirndls, traditional Bavarian clothing worn by women during Oktoberfest.
“With the young women it often looks like porno dresses, short and low-cut and cheap material,” he said, The Times reported. “It has nothing to do with identity…”
Franz Thalhammer, 70, a former chairman of Munich’s Georgenstoana Baierbrunn folk group, called out Australian and Italian tourists specifically for sexualizing the uniform.
“A dirndl is something nice, it can make almost anyone pretty. But some of the dresses you see these days are crazy,” he said, Daily Mail reports. “You go in a tent and it’s full of paralytic Australians and Italians and they’ve forked out €250 ($290) for a complete Bavarian outfit and think they’re Bavarians. It’s as if I’d walk around half-naked and say I’m Australian.”
Now, now! Herr Thalhammer, that’s some terrible national stereotyping. Plus, no one wants to see a 70-year old Bavarian folk musician half-naked.
The truth of the matter is that no one can quarantine their culture and protect it from being borrowed, blended, kitsched and misused. And no one should, whether that culture is Indian or German, African or Chinese.
In particular, when millions of visitors are injecting so much cash into the local economy, you can’t really afford to be too precious about foreigners bastardising your folkways.
Treat it as a compliment that foreigners want to do it – there are many other places around the world that would kill for tourists to be spending a few hundred bucks on their national dress. Even if it doesn’t cover much.
Arthur Chrenkoff blogs at The Daily Chrenk, where this piece also appears.
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