BacchusPeopleSpiegeloog 402: Appearances

Bacchus: Appearances in Amsterdam

A few months ago I was sitting with my mom on the terrace of Bagels & Beans just across the street from the Roeterseilandcampus. My mom has never moved more than a radius of 500 meters from my hometown and as she was watching the passing cyclists and pedestrians, she couldn’t believe what she saw. Once we were back in our hometown she said ‘It is not the typical Dutchman you see in Amsterdam’. 

Since our princess Maxima in 2007 stated that ‘The typical Dutch identity doesn’t exist’, there has been some discussion on what you could consider as ‘The Dutchman’. However, if we ever settle on the definition for ‘The Dutchman’, I don’t think the appearance of all the (Dutch) students you see walking around the Roeterseilandcampus will fit it. Your appearance is the medium through which others perceive you, and many people in Amsterdam seem to know, all too well, how to use this medium. Their clothes are used to express their identities.

When I was still in high school I was very fond of my clothes and always felt a bit special wearing them. I was, for example, one of the first people in my class to be the proud owner of a Janice raincoat from America Today (yes, that one). Only to find out, when I started university, that everyone had that same green raincoat. I didn’t feel that special after all. Clothes that made me feel unique in high school made me feel ordinary in Amsterdam. Now that I study here, I feel like I have to put in a lot more effort into the way I dress, if I want to stand out. Luckily I really like fashion and this pressure to dress up has made me more creative. 

Although the people at the Roeterseilandcampus sometimes seem to have a common fashion style, I personally like that everyone you see around the campus has a rather unique style of dressing. Néstor (a fellow Spiegeloog editor), who recently moved here, told me that he thought the streets of Amsterdam look just like a museum. I really liked this statement. But on that note, isn’t our whole city just like a museum? What a lovely city we live/study in!

One of my reasons for studying and later living in Amsterdam was the feeling of freedom that the city gave me. For example, once I was walking with my mom through de Pijp and we saw an old man using a walker who wore the most extraordinary clothes with all different sorts of prints. We were fascinated. What I love about Amsterdam is that nobody will take a second look at that man. In Amsterdam, odd is part of what is normal. I know for sure that in my hometown nobody would be able to take their eyes off of him. Although this feeling of freedom was unfortunately partly blocked by not feeling free to dress down, I mainly get inspired by the creativity this freedom produces. The Roeterseilandcampus to me is a place where you can express yourself however you like.

Illustration by Chitra Mohanlal

A few months ago I was sitting with my mom on the terrace of Bagels & Beans just across the street from the Roeterseilandcampus. My mom has never moved more than a radius of 500 meters from my hometown and as she was watching the passing cyclists and pedestrians, she couldn’t believe what she saw. Once we were back in our hometown she said ‘It is not the typical Dutchman you see in Amsterdam’. 

Since our princess Maxima in 2007 stated that ‘The typical Dutch identity doesn’t exist’, there has been some discussion on what you could consider as ‘The Dutchman’. However, if we ever settle on the definition for ‘The Dutchman’, I don’t think the appearance of all the (Dutch) students you see walking around the Roeterseilandcampus will fit it. Your appearance is the medium through which others perceive you, and many people in Amsterdam seem to know, all too well, how to use this medium. Their clothes are used to express their identities.

When I was still in high school I was very fond of my clothes and always felt a bit special wearing them. I was, for example, one of the first people in my class to be the proud owner of a Janice raincoat from America Today (yes, that one). Only to find out, when I started university, that everyone had that same green raincoat. I didn’t feel that special after all. Clothes that made me feel unique in high school made me feel ordinary in Amsterdam. Now that I study here, I feel like I have to put in a lot more effort into the way I dress, if I want to stand out. Luckily I really like fashion and this pressure to dress up has made me more creative. 

Although the people at the Roeterseilandcampus sometimes seem to have a common fashion style, I personally like that everyone you see around the campus has a rather unique style of dressing. Néstor (a fellow Spiegeloog editor), who recently moved here, told me that he thought the streets of Amsterdam look just like a museum. I really liked this statement. But on that note, isn’t our whole city just like a museum? What a lovely city we live/study in!

One of my reasons for studying and later living in Amsterdam was the feeling of freedom that the city gave me. For example, once I was walking with my mom through de Pijp and we saw an old man using a walker who wore the most extraordinary clothes with all different sorts of prints. We were fascinated. What I love about Amsterdam is that nobody will take a second look at that man. In Amsterdam, odd is part of what is normal. I know for sure that in my hometown nobody would be able to take their eyes off of him. Although this feeling of freedom was unfortunately partly blocked by not feeling free to dress down, I mainly get inspired by the creativity this freedom produces. The Roeterseilandcampus to me is a place where you can express yourself however you like.

Illustration by Chitra Mohanlal

Lisanne van der Velden

Author Lisanne van der Velden

Lisanne van der Velden (1999) studies Clinical Psychology and is interested in the interaction between psychology and society.

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