We Got an Illustrator to Draw the Biggest Stereotypes About Norrland


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We Got an Illustrator to Draw the Biggest Stereotypes About Norrland

Are all people from Norrland obsessed with snus, moonshining and hunting?

Segway-driving middle-aged men, feminists tweeting about a genocide on white men and a homogenous, boring group of Instagram addicted hipsters. Those were the stereotypes about people from Stockholm that came up when we asked people from the north of Sweden what they thought about people from Stockholm. We won't pretend it didn't hurt, even if (or maybe because) there may have some truth in them.

The thing is: the same kind of hurtful stereotypes can be made about people from the north of the country. You guys are living on a geographic area that covers more than half of Sweden, but you only make up 12% of the country's total population. That's insane. What are you doing with all that space?


We asked the same illustrator that gave us the Stockholm stereotypes to draw up the biggest stereotypes about Norrland. Mikaela Saletti is originally from Norrland but moved to Stockholm in her teens, so she's familiar with both sides of the stereotypical coin.

Illustrations by Mikaela Saletti


THE STEREOTYPE: Snus is to Swedes what burgers are to Americans – even for us in the South. If you're a Swede you automatically have a relationship with the little nicotine-filled ball of gunk. But there's no doubt that quiet Northerners consume this little tarlike substance a lot more than the rest of us. You guys in Norrland can't go anywhere without a snus under your upper lip. And you don't use the standard amount of snus – it's more like a handful of snus, or like a double sandwich, as we like to call it. That means two wads under your upper lip and two wads under your lower one. I'm getting queasy just writing about it.

The stereotype fact-checked: According to a 2015 survey, Norrland's population statistically consumes more snus than people in the rest of the country. But to be fair, the gap between the Northerners and the rest of Sweden is surprisingly small. According to the survey, 14,2% of the people in Norrland are regular consumers of snus, while the figures for the rest of Sweden is 11%. It might be a small difference, but still: stereotype confirmed.



THE STEREOTYPE: A real Northerner hunts. If you live in Norrland, you probably spend the majority of your waking hours in the forest with your hunting dog, coffee thermos and lunch pack, looking for something to kill. You're not a real 'norrlänning' if you don't have at least two rifles in your garage. But to be honest, weapons are for sissies. Everyone knows that you're not a proper norrlänning until you've killed a moose, wolf or a bear with your own bare hands.

The stereotype fact-checked: Last year, the environmental protection agency handed out three times more hunting licenses in Norrland than in any other part of Sweden. So although people in Norrland don't necessarily all kill animals with their bare hands, the rest is pretty accurate. Stereotype confirmed.


THE STEREOTYPE: Norrland is the land of lawlessness when it comes to booze. Nobody up north gives a shit about the state's alcohol monopoly. The art of moonshining is passed down generations, and is firmly ingrained in your Northern culture. So is drinking it all. Legend has it you guys only recognise your own children by looking at them through the bottom of a beer glass.

The stereotype fact-checked: Sorry to disappoint, but it's actually people from Stockholm who are the boozy types. Norrland has the lowest drinking rate in the whole of Sweden, while Stockholm has the highest, according to a study conducted by Stockholm's University. We drink 30 percent more of booze than people up north, including 'illegal booze'. And on top of that, there are only 68 liquor stores in the whole of Norrland, while there's 81 of them only in Stockholm, and over 360 in the rest of the country. However, they still distill a lot in Norrland. In 2011, the police raided several homes and found ten thousand litres of moonshine and 7000 litres of mash. 70 people were convicted for selling illegal alcohol. So: half of the stereotype confirmed.



THE STEREOTYPE: Everyone in Norrland has their own snowmobile, I guess it's because you guys don't have actual roads. The whole area is one big snow landscape with trampled trails made by flocks of reindeer. Or as you guys like to call them – silent furry friends. If you want to get from point A to point B, you have no choice but to get on a snowmobile.

The stereotype fact-checked: The statistics show that almost every eighth resident in Norrland owns a snowmobile. That's quite high, especially compared to the national average, which is one snowmobile per 262 citizens. Stereotype definitely confirmed.


THE STEREOTYPE: You don't care about fashion or dressing up. Your wardrobes are full comfortable boots, old caps and washed out flannel shirts. Where is the glitter, the stilettos or the compulsory BACK-hat? Not in your wardrobes. The only time you guys wear make up is on very special occasions, like your own wedding or the day the first polar bear of the year is born.

The stereotype fact-checked:
Liza Nilsson, is a Northerner from Arvidsjaur and a former employee in a shop specialised in outdoor clothing. "You can't deny that the climate up North is very different from the South, which obviously has its effect on the way we dress. High heels or jeans won't help you when you're walking to work in - 35 degrees Celsius," she says. "But that doesn't mean that we're not into fashion. I guess our definition of fashion just differs from that of Southerners. Instead of a € 200 Rodebjer dress, we spend our money on Fjällräven jackets, quality cover pants and a pair of solid boots." Stereotype kind of confirmed, but let's not dwell on it because there's no reason for Stockholm to be douchy about it.


THE STEREOTYPE: Northeners are such loners. You are isolated from the outside world. Not only because there's at least a couple of kilometers from your home to your neighbour's and no grocery stores within a reasonable driving distance, but also because you guys are not super into talking. If you're a real Northerner, drinking, shooting and snowmobiling should be a sufficient way of communicating. Anything beyond that is TMI.

The stereotype fact-checked: Norrland has 4,8 residents per square kilometre and compared to Stockholm's 35,97 residents in the same space, Norrland seems to fit the stereotype. On top of that, 18% of people in Norrland are living in single households. Man, do you people love being alone. Stereotype confirmed.