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‘Pink Flamingo’: Hashtag Exposes Embarrassing Myth Australians Believe About Europe

Hold my caramel latte…

Forget the seductive plunge pools: inflatable pink flamingos are the new symbol of European summer. But despite their utility as a prop that ‘pops’, this decidedly un-humble piece of poolside equipment also exposes how – despite living in a country of Tall Poppy Cutters and $2 sausage sizzles – Australians possess a Gatsby-like romanticism for Europe.

Common talking points include: how “classy” everything is, how “well-travelled” Old World citizens are and how “liberal” (nudism liberal, not Tony Abott liberal) everyone is – “over there”.

This is most painfully apparent in the (European) summer months when droves of Aussies make their various French Riviera, Amalfi Coast, Mykonos, Santorini and Capri pilgrimages.

Inspired by articles like “Paradise Beach Photo Exposes Greek Freedom Aussies Can’t Handle” and “Revealed: The Secret To Spain’s Nightlife Success,” these sunburnt sojourners return with tales that would have you think they just got back from ancient Babylon.

However, while they generalise 741.4 million people as casually as they sip their turmeric lattes, there is some truth to their observations.

Europe is more liberal than Australia (at least socially). There are less megaphone wielding lifeguards. No one will dob you in for drinking on the beach. There are fewer nightlife laws. Sure, sure, sure.

But the most embarrassing stereotype many of us still believe is wrong, and a scroll through the Instagram hashtag ‘pink flamingo’ reveals why.

 

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What is it? The idea that going to the beach is a classier affair in Europe – a notion which may appear complementary but is actually a fetishisation of 38,000km of coastline, which holds 741.4 million people to unrealistic swimwear (and inflatable animal) standards.

Meanwhile, the truth is, as the proliferation of ‘basic’ pink flamingo beach shots – from Spain’s El Palmar to Greece’s Sigri – shows, European beaches are not inherently ‘classier’ than Australian ones.

 

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What’s more, despite their reputation for being photogenic-as-hell, as numerous professional photographers and travel writers (see Traveller’s recent piece: “‘Like Sydney in Winter’: Why You Shouldn’t Be Jealous Of Your Friend’s European Holiday”) have pointed out, European beaches in summer aren’t all that different from Sydney – or even Maine – in winter.

What’s more: while ginormous crowds sitting squishy may look pretty, dealing with that many people soon becomes tiresome.

Oh and even though cold pebbles and black sand make your umbrellas ‘pop’ for photos (see: Ischia), in terms of comfort they don’t hold a towel to Australia’s soft, yellow sand.

 

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Moral of the story? Don’t be ashamed of your syrupy lattes and colourful beach toys: just don’t expect all Europeans to deny themselves these ‘basic’ pleasures in the name of cool either.

 

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