We Got an Illustrator to Draw the Biggest American Stereotypes About England
Illustrations and stereotype text by Oliver Holmes; fact-checking by Daisy Jones


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We Got an Illustrator to Draw the Biggest American Stereotypes About England

We also fact-checked each one, to find out whether Brits really do have the worst teeth in the world.
April 8, 2015, 5:50pm

This article originally appeared on VICE UK.

What better way to familiarize yourself with a country than via a set of wildly inaccurate stereotypes? For my American friends who've never visited Britain, that's pretty much all there is to go on; yes, John Oliver and James Cordon are on the telly, but the former analyzes American politics and the latter seems to mostly just laugh at his own jokes, so it's not like you can get a particularly good gauge of Britishness out of either of them.

This all means that people fall back on stereotypes to inform their view of the average Brit, the best of which I've rounded up and illustrated below.

The stereotype: Seriously, is there something that happens in the womb that means you all end up born with six too many teeth in your mouth? And how, when you have so many crammed in there, do you not notice that they've turned all yellow and brown?

The stereotype fact-checked: The last comprehensive study on bad teeth was conducted by the World Health Organization in 2003. The results suggested that British 12-year-olds actually have some of the best pegs in the world, with an average of 1.2 teeth being decayed, missing or with fillings.

However, hit the 34–44 age bracket and our dental hygiene reaches "high" on the that's-fucking-nasty scale, with an average of 13.9 teeth being subpar in some way—which is quite depressing when you realize that's almost half of them. Mind you, North America isn't too far behind, reaching "moderate" on the scale of wayward teeth.

The stereotype: Americans certainly don't shy away from a drink, but the British drinking culture is still baffling. Is it your intention to seriously poison yourself every time you go out? What is Lambrini, and does it serve any purpose other than aiding you in your duty to throw up on someone's car? Are you expected to drink more if your football team loses, draws, or wins? Or does it not really matter? It's all a fucking minefield, and I don't understand.

The stereotype fact-checked: We don't all spend every waking minute on the piss, but 28 percent of us do spend most of our time engaging in "heavy episodic drinking," according to a study conducted by the World Health Organization last year. To put that into perspective, the British have almost twice the global average of binge drinkers, which is 16 percent. And when we drink, we drink a lot, with Britons consuming an average of 11.6 liters of pure alcohol per year, compared to the average global intake of 6.2 liters.

The stereotype: How do you know you're watching a scene set in the UK in a Hollywood movie? Red buses, rain, and lots of people with skin so pale it's almost translucent. The only tan you'll get comes in a bottle, because the sun is literally always obscured by a thick, oppressive wall of clouds.

The stereotype fact-checked: This one is tricky to quantify, but—objectively—it's basically just not true, is it? According to the Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment, there were more than 8,000 tanning salons in the UK in 2009, so even if they're not getting a lot of sun, there are other ways for Brits to make themselves all copper and leathery.

The stereotype: Americans tend to picture the whole of the UK as one of those biscuit-tin villages—a place with a nice old bridge, a babbling brook, and a pub that smells of hops and wet dog. Overlooking this village is Buckingham Palace, which the Queen pops out of regularly so she can have a chat with every one of the 200 locals.

The stereotype fact-checked: Again, obviously bullshit. According to a study by YouGov, 67 percent of us want Queen Elizabeth II to remain monarch and continue doing her "royal duties" for as long as possible. In terms of actually meeting her, according to the Official Website of the British Monarchy, "the Queen meets thousands of people in the UK each year," which is a very noncommittal statistic and tells us basically nothing.

The stereotype: The UK seems to be a nation that survives mostly off liquids: tea during the day, lager as soon as the sun starts to go down. Do you all have massive bladders? Is that something anybody's ever checked?

The stereotype fact-checked: We don't actually have the most tea drinkers in the world—that title goes to Turkey, which consumes 6.916 pounds per year, per person, according to an infographic published by Quartz. However, we're not close behind, with the UK drinking 4.281 pounds of tea per year per person. So yeah, basically we drink a lot of tea.

The stereotype: Every single British person is essentially an amalgamation of someone out of Downton Abbey and that man who seems like a parody of a posh person off Made in Chelsea. No matter the occasion or the inconvenience of wearing a three-piece suit/petticoats and a formal dress, they will wear a three-piece suit/petticoats and a formal dress.

The stereotype fact-checked: Considering that, as of 2013, the most popular retail store in the UK was Tesco, I'll take a wild stab in the dark and assume that most Brits don't have every outfit tailored on Savile Row. We're far more likely to be seen in Primark jeggings and a George at ASDA fleece than we are in a cummerbund and brogues. Mind you, I suppose this isn't such a bad stereotype compared to the others, so America, carry on believing what you like.

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