Real Dutch women
They are tall, beautiful, confident, often blonde and absolutely everywhere!
Coming to a North Holland town can put one shockingly face-to-face with some of the most interesting women on the planet. They are also comfortable with themselves and can be brutally honest. I could just do a photo essay, but what are these beautiful creatures really like?
I set out for a closer look at Dutch women through the eyes of a photographer, a fashion model and women in local neighbourhoods to see if common threads emerged.
Image source Carin Verbruggen
Confident & Down-to-Earth
Carin Verbruggen is a renowned Dutch fashion and lingerie photographer who has worked with women from around the world - and the musician Usher - but enjoys working with Dutch women because she says they are "easy going and confident," and that this sets them apart from others. "Dutch girls are open to anything because they have seen more and are honest," she said by telephone.
Carin said about Dutch girls, "You can have a lot of fun with them, and they are not like babies in front of the camera." For American girls, on the other hand, she said, "I have to clear the entire studio when they change their clothes, but Dutch girls can change in a café or car because they are not spoiled and are more honest about themselves."
Sonja, 38, has lived and worked internationally as a fashion model. She exhibited Dutch modesty as she was hesitant to acknowledge that she has appeared on the covers of magazines like Elle, Vogue and Grazia. Sonja said that much of the confidence and comfort seen in Dutch women comes from the nature of the culture itself. "Dutch stay in their comfort zone, like to be normal with less fantasy and are happy with what they have."
Sonja, who does not know Carin, pointed out that Dutch women wear less makeup and are more natural than others internationally.
"There is no bullshit with Dutch women," and that they are "not carried away by the superficial." Conversations among Dutch models, Sonja said, "are not usually about material things, but life and relationships." Sonja’s demeanor supported what I had been hearing as she seemed very much at ease and humorous, maintained piercing eye contact and became passionate on some topics during the interview in a café in Bergen, North Holland.
The physical aspect
Doutzen Kroes and Lara Stone are the glittering hood ornaments of the Dutch fashion hot rod at the moment. Carin and Sonja agree that Kroes and Stone carry themselves well and are prime examples of homegrown beauty (even though Stone is reported to have an English father).
The average height of a Dutch woman is around 180cm, or 5' 10", and Dutch women were compared several times to the Swedes, but there is a different bone structure that supports slightly stronger faces.
Sonja said that many women here cast their already modest concerns about beauty aside and focus on living health-conscious lifestyles as they grow older. "They could be more glamorous to feel better about themselves," she said.
As they tend to cut their hair shorter than in other cultures and have declining concern for fashionable clothes, Dutch women can appear more masculine than their counterparts.
Carin said because of the clothes, "Sometimes you cannot tell who is the man or the woman." A positive, unanimous agreement was that the women here remain more natural, take care of their health and do not have cosmetic surgery as often.
I have noticed that Dutch women can be quick to make themselves known or to put someone in their place. Carin said, "Maybe Dutch women are aggressive, but when looking at Southern European countries like Italy and Spain, women are more openly aggressive."
At the Central Station in Amsterdam, Helen, 33, said that Dutch women "can dominate the men even in what they wear and who their friends are." Marlaan, 21, agreed, "Women here are in charge in most cases, and are known for speaking what they think, even too much sometimes."
Sonja said, "We are fighting to be equal with men, but sometimes we over-rule the man and things go out of balance." Sonja went on to say that Dutch men are not intimidated by Dutch women, but other nationalities are. Regina, 20, was more forward on the issue when she said, "It is definitely true that we are bossy and want to take control of men. It feels nice to have control."
However, Silvana, 24, disagreed when she said, "Women who say they are in charge are just the ones who want it." I realise that this subject is far from unique to Dutch culture, but the perception of the woman in charge seems more prevalent than in many other places. And even with this power debate in mind, most Dutch women I have met have been approachable, friendly and easy to talk to.
Blondes vs Non-blondes
Our visiting friends have been amazed at the nearly comical high ratio of blondes in this area, because Swedish women have traditionally held the blonde reputation. Many Holland-bound tourists only visit Amsterdam, where the population is more a mix of Dutch, tourists and immigrants. However, a Dutch friend who lives in small North Holland village said that their children’s school class photos consisted of "12 blond boys and 12 blonde girls."
I became curious if there was a social status attached to being a blonde, or is it just normal?ï»¿
Annet, a 37 year-old brunette, was in Amsterdam with her gray-blonde mother and blonde sister. She said that she dyed her hair brown to look more intelligent. Her mother, Greetje, 65, grinned when she heard Annet’s comment and said about herself and other daughter, "We are intelligent blondes."
Marlaan said that some tension exists between hair colors in high school, but people have more important things to worry about as they get older, and Sonja remarked that there is competition between blonde and non-blonde models. But most women I asked said that the typical blonde jokes and humorous perceptions of silliness exist here, but there is not actually a social gap or competition between the hair colors.
Image source Carin Verbruggen
Sex, Drugs & Rock & Roll
Maybe some readers are asking themselves, "Do these Dutch girls like to party?" I have discovered a marked open-mindedness, but also an avoidance of excess with Dutch women. Carin said, "Dutch girls are not conservative at all" and that they were more world conscious after seeing sex, drugs and homosexuality treated as normal in their home culture. She went on to add that Dutch girls "Would not listen to conservative voices anyway if preached."
Thumbnail source and more photos at Matt's blog.