Being petite in the Netherlands

After a question that was posed on Ty’s Blog. Is it good or bad to be on the petite side in the land of the Amazons? I have also linked this post to the original blog on which I have commented. A lot of these comments have been used in this post.

Firstly we are talking averages and yes the average female (and male) tends to be tall, one of the tallest populations in the world. Besides we need to height to look over the dykes to check if the water is not coming to wash our country away.

The average of 5’8″ does sound right. The younger ones are the tallest. They are so tall it is almost scary. There are 13 years old girls that are as tall as an adult woman in most other countries.
Women over 6ft tall are not unusual. I remember a few years back when I was in the Netherlands on a holiday from New Zealand with my then partner. He was 6’4″ and always felt really tall in England and New Zealand. He loved walking around in the Netherlands as one of many and being able to buy clothes that fitted everywhere properly. The when he saw the women, so many that were close to his height and even some over, his jaw dropped. He turned around and yelled “Look she is just as tall as me”. I knew that, do rub it in that I am short. Needless to say he is an ex.

I stand at 5ft3’’ and being petite here is a nuisance but really not more that that. You learn to live with it. I mean why make a problem out of the inevitable. I think Trine has probably the same views as the Danes also tend to be tall. It is not that unusual to be around 5’3” I know quite a few of them (or is this a case of kind seeks kind), we do however have a reasonable number in the extreme height area. Most stores have special clothes for those that are taller. Not so much for the petites, but it not as if I cannot find clothes (my wallet can vouch for that one at present).

Feeling self conscious about height is something I think has to do with how your self esteem is and how your height affects you in that. Don’t forget that the really really tall women would love to be shorter they have a self conscious problem too. Women over 6ft are not uncommon. In fact my cousin is one she stands at 6ft . She and I have had discussions how splitting the difference would be wonderful, could we find a surgeon to do this for us.

We used to laugh about how our issues on height were opposites. It did help both of us to put things into perspective when growing up.

She clearly takes after her fathers side of the family and I take after my maternal grandfathers side (our mothers are sisters).

I also think that we have a much wider spread in length in the Netherlands. I know people here significantly shorter than me. Usually these people are of foreign heritage (immigrants and their offspring), so it is not very unusual in that respect.

Generalising hugely the population can be seen as the Dutch and the foreign migrants. The latter tend to be shorter than the Dutch population. The Dutch themselves (excluding the foreign population) is tall very, very tall. Oh yes and wearing heels will not solve that much. We have a lot of cobble stone streets here, which makes that wearing heels can be lethal both for the heels and you ankles. Besides most tall women wear them as well. Dutch women apart from being tall are also very self confident in general so they wear what they like.

Personally I think the tallness is not the worst of it. I think it is more that the women as a result of being very tall are also very androgynous. They tend not to have a very female shape, tend to be of the straight up and down type. Which makes that clothes may need a lot of alteration not only in length (relatively easy) but also on shape (not easy). Another reason to sew for me.

Still there are some things that are worth noting as special.

In my second year at university I moved into a renovated student apartment building. I shared my apartment with six other students (co-ed usually 4 males – 3 female) As the average Dutch student was getting taller by the year they had decided during the renovation to put all kitchen cupboards and stoves onto blocks to increase the height.

I was known to cook the rice in the large pot on the back burner standing on a chair as otherwise I could not reach it.

One can easily purchase beds here that are 2.20m 7’ft long (2/6’5 is almost standard) for the really tall people.

Having said al that if you live here you get used to it. I am still tall enough to fit on the reasonably normal scale, so don’t need special adjuster, though buying a bicycle I need the smallest adult frame, but who cares. That is thing really it is normal, the standard here. Your height is not something you can change really. You just deal with it, irritating as it can be.

Trine and Nethe, you as Danes can probably recognise a lot of this. The Danes (and Norwegians) are on average quite tall as well, their average is not far under ours.


About Gilraen

My blog is simply about my life. I moved countries for the first time in 1993. I lived in the Netherlands, UK and NZ. The initial idea was to keep my overseas friends up-to-date with what was going on in my life. The blog, like me, is always changing and evolving.
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One Response to Being petite in the Netherlands

  1. Gilraen says:

    netheandersen wrote on Apr 29, ’07
    You´re right, G. Danes are rather tall in general. My brothers and father are all well above the 1,8 m “standard” for danish males. But my mother is only 1,5 or so. I´m 1,65 m, which is not tall by danish sandards. I was always the smalles, skinnies in school, and lates at university I was still in the smaller end of the scales.
    But now I´ve moved to northern Norway, and things are different here. Everybody is small! Well, at least the “natives”. Even many men are smaller than me, though usually broader. Stocky, might be the word…
    Hmm… my low hight never botherd me, in fact I always felt kind of protected when walking with taller friends. Now I´m a “tall one” and it feels strange and unprotected. the elements and people can be rather harsh, so better to be nearer the ground…
    Enough musing for today. 🙂

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