Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Belgium: wardrobe malfunctions galore

A friend of mine sent me a link to a Dutch cycling site yesterday and it reminded me of something I haven't discussed when it comes to riding and racing in Belgium.  The article in question describes Mark Cavendish's newest ride. Here is the link and I want to warn the reader beforehand that this is definitely UNSAFE FOR WORK, as they say in the US. You go there at your own risk.

The article is full of wardrobe malfunction. As an American, you might at first be tempted to think that this type of magazine or site caters to a specific audience and that no European cyclist or cycling fan would go there, but you would be mistaken.

As a matter of fact, wardrobe malfunction is very common in the Belgian cycling world. The mechanic's area of bike stores, which is also the place where team members, including youth members convene on a regular basis, often displays cycling themed wall calendars with lots of wardrobe malfunctions. Every year the popular sports new site Sporza displays pictures of  German cycling calendars containing plenty of wardrobe malfunction. Sporza even holds contests where you can win such calendars.
Belgian pharmacies: where wardrobe malfunction is prevalent

But lest you think Belgian cyclists and-or mechanics are perverts, let me warn you that many regular stores in Belgium display posters with wardrobe malfunction. One place where you are almost guaranteed to see examples of wardrobe malfunction -and where you perhaps least expect it- is the pharmacy. Pharmacies in Belgium are stores where children walk in and out all the time.

You don't even need to go the pharmacy. Topless women are all over billboards and signs and nobody thinks twice of it. Although Belgium has only one official nude beach in Bredene, topless sunbathing is quite common in Belgium (and the rest of Western Europe).
A political ad 

Although Belgians are in general fairly relaxed when it comes to nudity, that is not a general rule and in rural areas in particular, people are often quite modest. But even here you may find images of topless women, albeit in distinctly non-sexual settings such as medical or health-related ads.

Another fact that often surprises foreigners is to find out that prostitution is legal in Belgium. Not only is it legal it is quite visible in certain areas. And these areas include rural locales outside big cities. The highway from Gent to Deinze for example is dotted with bordellos that cater to truck drivers. These establishments often have window displays akin to the more famous red light district in Amsterdam. Just be careful when you drive there the first time around: keep your eyes on the road, it is safer.

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