Oh to be Dutch!

The first time I came to Amsterdam for an extended period of time was in January 2012. I spent this month not only getting to know the husband better, but looking at the city with a critical eye. Could I live here? Could I fit in here? Do I want to live and fit in here? While mulling over these questions and exploring my surroundings, I made a few observations about Dutch people, and about Dutch women in general.

The first thing I noticed was that Dutch women are tall. In fact, Dutch people are tallest in the world. With my five foot two inch (or 157 centimeter) frame, it was blatantly obvious that no, I would not be fitting in this way. But, let's be realistic, my height has never helped me fit in anywhere but South Korea. So, while this didn't have much impact on my decision to move here, it has impacted my life a bit. I now find myself looking at a lot of shoulders. I find myself avoiding concerts that are standing room only because, well, staying at home and listening to a live album is better than listening to live music while getting pushed around and staring at someone's back. I also ask for a lot of help reaching things off the highest shelf at the supermarket. Things could definitely be worse.

Another thing I noticed was that most Dutch women seemed very relaxed in their style. While my winter wardrobe at the time consisted mainly of dresses and big sweater cardigans with knee high boots, the common uniform of Dutch women seemed to be jeans and sweaters with ankle boots or sneakers. Their style gave the appearance of ease. They looked comfortable and casual, as if they dressed without effort. As for hair and make-up, well, there seemed to be little fuss made over either. Even while out on a weekend night, the majority of women were wearing casual clothes and minimal make-up, their hair tied up in a no-fuss bun.

I realize that describing the style of Dutch women in one paragraph is risky, a sweeping generalization, but my observations gave me the overall feeling that Dutch women are much less maintenance than women in the States. I found it refreshing. And then I found out why.

After trying very hard and to no avail, I realized that it's the long legs of Dutch women that make jeans with sneakers or ankle high boots look stylish. My legs, on the other hand, legs that require each and every pair of pants I buy to be hemmed by at least two inches, don't. They just don't. So, though I may be one of the only, I'll be that girl in the café wearing tall boots with heels.

Secondly, in a city that experiences frequent rainy weather and relies on bicycles as a main mode of transportation, doing your hair and make-up is just not worth it. Take today, for example. I started out having a great hair day. My locks were blown sleek and smooth, and my bangs were obeying my wishes. Then I went on a bike ride. And even with my scarf wrapped carefully around my head, I ended up looking like this:

Not impressed.
Bangs wet and plastered to the face, hair weirdly waved and stringy, and new jeans soaked through, dying my legs blue. But as far as biking-in-the-rain days go, today was a pretty good day. There have been other days when I've reached my destination looking like this:

Even less impressed ... and a little sad.
A picture is worth a thousand words, so I'll spare a lengthy analysis and sum it up: Dutch women don't spend too much time fussing with their hair and make-up because they're smart. They know chances are good that the seemingly ever-present clouds will just ruin whatever effort they put forth, so they choose to avoid the hassle and the disappointment.

As for me? Well, I'm proving that I can live here, but I'm not sure that I can fit in completely (and not just because I'm short). As nice as it would be to embrace the Dutch female mentality, I'm probably going to keep doing my hair and wearing mascara because gosh darn it, I like to. And I'm also going to keep wearing my dresses and tights ... because they dry faster.

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