As a female whose uterus has rarely conceived of producing a child, I was surprised to find my ovaries becoming hysterical in Reykjavík. No, it wasn’t the sight of small children in tiny woollen sweaters that wound my newfound biological clock; it was the men caring for those adorable Icelandic children. I didn’t know it was possible, but somehow Reykjavík’s hot dad contingent makes parenthood look impossibly sexy.
And I am not alone in these feelings: several female foreigners (and let’s not forget homosexual males) have experienced the same allurement: the swoon, followed by lust, turning quickly to serious thoughts of day-care arrangements and re-evaluations of Brady Bunch re-runs. Yet somehow, local Icelanders are completely unfazed by the paternal gods in their midst.
When pitching this article to Grapevine Editor Anna Andersen, for example, I was surprised I even had to explain what, to me, was such a distinct phenomenon. How could anyone miss that Iceland contains a staggeringly high number of hot dads per capita? Sadly, just like anything, the closer you are to something truly incredible, the harder it is to recognise.
Icelandic women have long been known far and wide for being the fairest of them all, however Icelandic men are just starting to gain attention for their looks—a decidedly softer claim to fame than their Viking ancestors of yore. And while Vikings fathered children like nobody’s business, I assume public displays of fatherhood (too bad the abbreviation PDF is already taken) have only recently become more socially acceptable.
With a young population, Iceland’s new fathers were mainly between the ages of 24 and 31 in 2012, according to Statistics Iceland. While other Western populations “age” and couples wait longer to have children, “old man” increasingly becomes a more suitable term for fathers than say, “hottie.” Even older Icelandic fathers often look younger thanks to those baby-face genes.
The Swiss artist Karin Kurzmeyer and her colleague Piret Uustal, who studied at the Academy of Arts in Reykjavík, illustrated this subject in a collection of ‘Very Serious Pictures from Iceland,’ which were compiled for the book ‘Straight Stuff,’ which is described as “Iceland seen through foreign eyes.”
In this book we learn that “Icelanders are family-conscious but the family pattern is often a very mixed patchwork. The birthrate is among the highest in Europe. Fathering children with more than one woman is nothing special, and single mothers are common.”
And with 2/3 of these children born out of wedlock in 2012, according to Statistics Iceland, there’s a better chance that the hot dad you followed from the playground might still be available. And while single mothers continue to bear the brunt of childrearing responsibilities in Iceland, sexually frustrated foreigners can pursue these irresistible hot dads with a lower risk of becoming a “home wrecker.” The nuclear family be damned.
Karin illustrates the typical Icelandic dad as sporting a juvenile hoodie and manly scruff while pushing one of the many old-fashioned prams that stroll the Reykjavík’s city streets. A caption below reads, “Sexy Dad # 1769, implying that much like mice, when you see one “Sexy Dad” you should assume hundreds more are within the vicinity—just out of view. Yet somehow a city overrun with attractive young males with progeny in tow seems like an acceptable infestation, even if many of them would be considered deadbeat dads by local standards.
After four years of a liberal arts education that beat the idea of “natural” female urges to reproduce and nurture out of me, it seems I still harbour heteronormative reproductive fantasies. My mother will be so pleased. No babies for me just yet though. For now I’ll simply appreciate Reykjavík’s main attractions—hot dads—from afar.
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