australian culture and customs

find out how australians do things, how we see the world and the world sees us

disgusting or acceptable in public? etiquette of the body

  • spitting – disgusting on the street, absolutely revolting anywhere inside except straight into the toilet (in private).
  • sneezing – ok if you cover your mouth and/or use a tissue over your mouth.
  • picking the snot (gooba/ boogie) out of your nose – gross!
  • scratching your crotch (penis, vagina, anus) – no way!
  • wearing shoes inside – quite acceptable and customary, but wipe your feet on the doormat before you go inside.
  • missing the toilet when urinating – get your aim right, please. And while your there, fellows, please put the seat down when you’re done.missing the mark weeing
  • blowing your nose into a tissue – ok, but it’s polite to turn away from the table or others.
  • blowing your nose without a tissue – you must be joking!
  • picking at your pimples, sores  or skin – I don’t think so.
  • picking the nits out of your hair – give me a break!
  • picking out ear wax. oh, puleeze – no way!
  • urinating – only into a bush away from other people in the bush – it is still an offence.  Only acceptable for men.
  • putting on underarm deodorant around others – teenagers might do it, but that doesn’t mean you should (even if you’re are a teenager).
  • dirty fingernails and toenails – only if you are currently gardening or changing the oil in your car.
  • breaking wind/flatulence (farting) in public – yuk!
  • licking your fingers or your knife when eating – don’t do it.
  • touching the bottom, penis, vagina, breasts or other parts of someone that you don’t know or who hasn’t shown very clear interest in you – not on. Ever. You can also be charged with assault, i.e., it is against the law.
  • touching someone else’s head – that’s ok (if they are your mate)
  • making lots of noise when you eat (slurping, sucking, burping, grunting, etc.) – you will not be invited back for dinner.
  • eating with your mouth open – no, I do not want to watch the food swirling around in your mouth. Very bad manners.
  • brushing or combing your hair – best to do this away from others unless in the rest room (toilet).
  • snorting. no.
  • burping. nope – it doesn’t matter how much you liked the food.
  • spilling food around your plate when eating – try not to.
  • the smell of natural sweat and body odour – not really.  Use deodorant.
  • bad breath – ick! We teach our kids to brush their teeth twice a day.
  • smoking inside public buildings – against the law!
  • squatting on the toilet seat – not the done thing in Australia
  • cutting or cleaning your nails – uh-uh.
  • nudity – only in private, at a nudist beach or in same-sex change rooms/toilets
  • putting your feet on a chair or table – I personally hate this as do many others, but quite a few people do it.
  • wearing bare feet – ok at the beach or pool.
  • eating with your hands (not using cutlery) – only ok for sandwiches, rolls, hot dogs or pizza and cheese and crackers (‘finger food’).  Basically if it’s wet and hot, poor etiquette.
  • picking or flossing your teeth – not nice (cover your mouth with your hand if you use a toothpick)
  • breastfeeding – this one is controversial.  I say, if your baby is hungry, feed it.  Not everyone likes this but it is actually a legal right. If you prefer privacy, many shopping centres provide family or babies’ rooms near the regular toilets. These rooms also provide baby changing tables and , sometimes, microwaves to heat up bottles.
female baby change

sign for female nappy (diaper) changing room

You might like my post on the beach for more information on how to behave and dress at the beach

3 comments on “disgusting or acceptable in public? etiquette of the body

  1. SoundEagle
    February 10, 2013

    What an informative and exhaustive list!

    It would be hard to think of more to include, unless aliens descend on the continent . . . .

    Thank you.

  2. Wendy
    July 4, 2013

    Hi Helene, Just today in Japan we were discussing how Australians are known for wearing bare feet everywhere. A person from the USA commented on it and we Aussies all agreed. I think that is a fairly normal custom in Australia to have bare feet often.

    • Helene Markmann
      July 4, 2013

      Hi Wendy

      Yes, it is not uncommon but not as common as it used be when people couldn’t actually afford shoes. I also think it depends on the state you live in. Thongs (flip flops, not g strings!) are also much more common in oz than in other western countries – I think.

      I hope life in Japan is good

      Helene

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This entry was posted on February 8, 2013 by in etiquette and customs, law, leisure and tourism and tagged , , , , , , .
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