Thursday, August 04, 2005

Thanks for the Mammaries

[[F A S H I O N]] * I’ve long been under the impression that the United States, with its V-chips, sanctimonious fulminating over Jessica Simpson’s steamy “These Boots Were Made for Walking” video, and idiotic effort in Texas to ban cheerleaders from wearing “sexually suggestive” clothing, is by far the most prudish place on the planet. But now comes news that the European Union wants to cut back on the cleavage component of barmaids--supposedly to protect them from the dangers of sunburn.

Not surprisingly, this new Optical Radiation Directive (which applies specifically to staffers who must work outside) hasn’t gone over well with many people, especially the operators and patrons of Germany’s Bavarian beer gardens. “This is European law-making at its most pedantic,” the mayor of Munich, Christian Ude, groused to the London Telegraph. “A waitress is no longer allowed to wander round a beer garden with a plunging neckline. I would not want to enter a beer garden under these conditions.” Adds a spokesman for Munich’s Oktoberfest, the world’s biggest beer bash: “This is an attack on the traditions of a region.” There has already been talk of tipplers boycotting Oktoberfest this year, unless the “po-faced penpushers” in Brussels back off and let partying laddies continue to delight in the titillating sight of bare décolletage over their frothing pilsners.

Bavarian barmaids traditionally appear in something called a “dirndl,” which is a combination of dress and apron, with a low-cut top and a brief white blouse meant to augment the ensemble’s shape-hugging effect. Bar keepers in that area of southern Germany have already been instructed to replace the dirndl with something that protects better against “natural sources of radiation” (i.e., sunlight), even though most of their waitresses don’t seem to think that chest tans are a burning issue.

The EU-wide cover-up is due to be voted on by the European parliament next month. Thus far, Britain has abstained from this directive, contending that employees should use their own common sense to protect against sunburn. However, the cheeky Sun tabloid has launched a pre-emptive “Save Our Jugs” campaign, inviting readers to send in photographs of pulchritudinous barmaids who “could be hit by the new ban.” Judges will choose their favorite from among that buxom bunch, and reward the person who submitted her snapshot with “a plaster cast of the winner’s boobs to hang in your local.” Hmm. Maybe Europeans aren’t turning so priggish after all.

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