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Those Dirty, Dirty French!

Aug
24
2006

I am a poll junkie. A lot of journalists are. The better ones at least try to find out what the sample sizes are and how the polls were conducted, but it’s hard to resist something outrageous that you can “say” because the poll declares it for you.
Case in point, survey says: One million French people do not brush their teeth. Ever!


And, what’s worse, according to data from the French national statistics bureau cited in the Italian edition of Vanity Fair, some 42% use that famed Gallic hauteur to ignore that not brushing teeth leads to cavities. The concept, apparently, falls beneath their notice.
To make the story even better, it turns out one toothy, confident entrepreneur has started sending “toothbrush subscriptions” by mail the forgetful brushers of France, so that they’ll always have a fresh one. (Because they are also lax at changing brushes once every three months, like you’re supposed to).
The French are easy targets for hygiene snobbery and, let’s face it, none of the Mediterranean cousins have a particularly good rep for cleanliness. Though if you’ve ever been in the house of an Italian, or Spaniard, or Portuguese, you know that sanitary conditions in most hospitals lag very, very far behind what you’ll find in casa dolce casa.
No matter. It’s like the poll about the English who admitted they don’t change their underwear. Or the 25% of Germans who don’t wash their hands before cooking.
It’s easy to “eeeew!” Especially if you’re an American. We’re convinced that we are the best, the brightest, and without a doubt, the spic-n-spannest population on the planet.
But, if you take Google Trends as a guide, we’re only number four or five in the battle against germs. Filipinos come first on every hygiene-related search (soap, deodorant, toothpaste) followed by several European countries (Denmark, the U.K.) and India.
It’s time to come clean of this particular brand of cultural superiority.

Share  Posted by Nicole Martinelli at 12:06 PM | Permalink

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