Sunday, November 28, 2010

Real Dutch Women

Photo by Carin Verbruggen
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 neighborhoods to see if common threads emerged.


From left: Carin Verbruggen, Inge de Bruijn and Candy Dulfer
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, left and below, 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’s 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’d 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.


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. 

Photo by Carin Verbruggen
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 can’t tell who’s the man or the woman.”    A positive, unanimous agreement was that the women here remain more natural, take care of their health and don’t have cosmetic surgery as often. 

I’ve 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 Amsterdam Central Station,  Helen, 33, said that Dutch women “can dominate the men even in what they wear and who their friends are.”  Marlaan, 21, below in photo, agreed, “Women here are in charge in most cases, and are known for speaking what they think, even too much sometimes.”     Above, photo of sisters Narelle and Silvana.

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’s 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 realize that this subject is far from unique to Dutch culutre, 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've met have been approachable, friendly and easy to talk to. 


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 “twelve blonde boys and twelve blonde girls.” 

 I became curious if there was a social status attached to being a blonde, or is it just normal?

Annet, a 37 year-old brunette, left in photo with Greetje and Helen, 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. 

Photo by Carin Verbruggen
Maybe some readers are asking themselves, “Do these Dutch girls like to party?”  I’ve 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 “Wouldn’t listen to conservative voices anyway if preached.” 

Breeja, left in photo, is a tall blonde who likes to party and describes herself as "not your typical Dutch girl."


  1. Nice article Matt! I saw it posted on iamexpat. I read your blog profile and I can agree with the sense of feeling quite comfortable here in Europe despite the weather....i'm from Atlanta. Thanks again for putting the article together!

  2. Thanks, Mike. It's hard not to like it over here. Did you see the comments on Some didn't agree with the post in general. It's all good fun with hopefully a few facts.
    Are you living in the Netherlands?

  3. Helen, 33, said that Dutch women “can dominate the men even in what they wear and who their friends are.” Marlaan, 21, below in photo, agreed, “Women here are in charge in most cases, and are known for speaking what they think, even too much sometimes"

    Indeed, we Men can not think for ourselves and just allow women to control us. This along with all of the other lies printed here about Dutch women are sure to please some women. Who get a kick out of the myth of the invicible western women bull. Dutch women are some of the most mentally ill unstable, superficial and ignorant women I have ever seen. Minus American women. Who are basically revolting Men who hate all men. It amazes me how you can post so many lies about Dutch women. I certainly can tel lyou some thing to contradict your lies about them.

    1. Dear Anonymous, Sorry to read your frustrations and it is clear that you have had poor experiences with Dutch women, sorry about that, your reply tells more about YOU than about the women you are talking about. I wish you lots of wisedom for your life.
      All the best, Corinne

    2. Dear Anonymous,

      You are clearly an idiot who has been rejected over and over and therefore blame the women who can obviously see your short comings. You will probably have more luck in Asia where they don't care about your personality or what you look like as long as you have money. Good luck with that. We are better off without you anyway.

      Sincerely - All Dutch and Western women.

  4. Dear Matt,
    what a load of generalized sh* you described these women being domineering or, taking it mean in my view, trying to act more like men, is not unique to Holland but seen in much of the west. Such women are extremely delusional and far more shallow, superficial and just plain confused, than guys. Guys still know what they want but these women don't seem to. From experience and from perceiving others, I realised that after a while guys give up because its not really worth the effort - not superficial and self-centred?...are these descriptions not synonymous with models and pretty women? "me thinks the lady doth protest too much!"

    - now, meeting interesting women that are not stuck up and false, in my view, is not something done in a nightclub or sleazy dark bar, where people go to show off and fit their stereotype down to a tee. Want my advice? - try talk to girls in cafés, shops, pubs, in daytime scenarios where people are not drunk and in a more relaxed frame of mind. I guarantee you will meet nicer people...and they don't have to be models to be attractive.

  5. It's funny that this article potrays and stereotypes Dutch girls as open minded liberals. The majority of Dutch girls I know are ultra conservative. And are kind to their husbands, who aren't in competition with their husband for authority. Where did you go to meet these women in the unruly part of the country. Trust me every country has those type of women. Stop trying to put down a whole culture.

  6. @Matt Luna how would you like it if people stereo typed your wife for being French. French people don't have a good reputation. But there are some of us that don't buy into stereo type. And let me tell you around 80% of people I know are Dutch ranging from 16 years old, 20 years old 30 years old to 80 and to be honest all these ladies I know are the total opposite in how you describe dutch women. I am sure there are woman as you discribed but that's the case with all nationalities. Liberalism has impacted most nations. But there are still some level headed women out there, and to your surprise some of them are Dutch despise the countries moral downward spiral