Tall but Short

Dutch people despite their height are known for their shortness. What I would consider rude or offensive the Dutch brush off. While at first this was off-putting it is freeing hearing people say what they think. Instead of dancing around the awkwardness of what they actually think. This can be seen in restaurants when dealing with servers or on public transport. Dealing with employees who aren’t afraid to tell you frankly that you are wrong. This fits in with the Dutch idea of be normal, more than just a saying it’s a guide for interaction with others.

The directness of the Dutch people has been striking but it isn’t as prevalent as Dutch fashion. Everyone is well dressed. Everyday is an event and a chance to look the best they can. Some of the trends that I have noticed in men’s fashion have been a prevalence of tight pants, with skin showing between the cuff and the shoe. Something not seen in America. I have seen a lot of adventurous sneakers made for looks over functionality. While the influence of athleisure hasn’t escaped the Dutch there are far less casual athletic clothes here than America. People don’t go out for the day in yoga or sweatpants. Instead opting for more traditional and classic styles.

The Netherlands is on average the tallest country in the world. The average height of a Dutch male is 6 feet and the average height for women is 5’7. The World Health Organization attributes this to “quality of life and a good diet consisting of dairy and cold-water fish”. As well as being tall the Dutch are fit too, small portion sizes and the reliance on biking for transportation are key factors in this. The Dutch lifestyle is built around staying healthy. Instead of government programs advocating for fitness and proper diet the culture funnels this onto its citizens.

From my short time here so far being surrounded by tall, fit and well dressed people I feel a pressure to look and act like them. Nothing about Dutch lifestyle is forced, its all encouraged. You’re encouraged to be fit and eat well since everyone else here is. You’re encouraged to dress well and present yourself well to fit in with everyone else. All of these positive attributes of Dutch culture come naturally and holistically. This is what I appreciate most about the local culture. There is a higher standard of what is accepted as “normal”.

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