Some Small Sense

Shopping experiences and store reviews by a very petite woman. Indeed, it sucks. 4'10", 87 pounds, and full grown - is it a surprise I have trouble finding clothes?

March 21, 2007

Head Over to Heels in the Netherlands?

As you probably know, average female height in America is about 5'4". Obviously, I'd feel only slightly short compared to the local population in China or Japan (5'0" - for the older population anyway), but what happens if I went to the Netherlands (5'7")?

I recently was invited to join an email group that discussed this very issue! Read some of our discussion below and let us know how you'd feel in the Netherlands! For those of you that may be interested in checking out where you should be flying to on your next vacation to get your new wardrobe, please check out Wikipedia's Human Height page to get each country 's average height.
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Amanda: amy, we had a discussion not long before you joined about an article rachel read about average height for women in the netherlands recently rising to 5ft8. she pointed out that since women on average there are 4 inches taller than women are here, that if we were to go there we would feel like we shrunk 4 inches.... the point of this discussion was this: even though none of us list "to be taller" as one of our top 2 or 3 reasons for wearing high heels, do we think that would change if we were transplanted to the netherlands? the 6 of us were split right down the middle on this. i for one said, yes, if i needed to wear 4 inch heels while there just to feel as tall as i feel usually feel at home, then i'd probably wear heels, at least sometimes, specifically so that i wouldn't feel so short in a world of amazons. care to weigh in on where you stand (no pun intended!) on this?

Amy: Actually, you'd probably feel even shorter than that, because practically speaking, you're even more on the fringes of normal height there. Because of the fact that I can't wear whatever I want off the rack, I tend to be a rather practical dresser. So even here, when I can probably inch into the realm of average-short height with 4" heels on, I don't really do it to try to make up for my shortness. I'm not going to hobble around on 4" heels just to be taller! I'll do it because I think it makes me look hotter :) I'm a bit of a contrarian so I would probably make a point to go out of my way to wear flats in the Netherlands. Sorry ladies, there's no way we can be tall there. Even with stilts, you'll look...really short still. Would you wear flats to blend in in a place that has women at 4'6" on average?

Elaine: i do see your point amy, but what i think might bother me a bit is that even women of average height there in 4 inch heels would 6ft tall. and i think the quote was something like 1 out of every 20 women there is 6ft or taller. and if they're wearing heels on top of that am i'm not..... i don't know. i guess maybe i could take the opposite viewpoint and make it a game. try to see just how much i can be towered over by or something. is that the kind of thing you're talking about?

Amy: More like, they'll tower over me anyway...why make things hard for myself by wearing shoes that will probably hurt my feet? I can understand if you're within the realm of average...but we're completely not. As I've said to my friends, I'm not fooling anyone - I'm really really short. Really tall shoes will still not make me tall.

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So maybe you won't be surrounded by tall Dutch women anytime soon, but how would you handle the situation readers? Are you a "fight for every inch you can" kinda gal/guy? Or are you more like me, the "I'm too wussy/lazy to deal with the pain of high heels" type?

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52 Comments:

Anonymous kara said...

i think we're all used to feeling so much shorter than a certain percentage of the population. so if everyone around us were 3 to 4 inches taller than we're used to, we'd notice. but the question is once we notice what do we do about it. for me, on paper i would say i would do nothing differently. however, i do find that if i happen to be with a group of people who are taller than average, i feel short to the point where i wish i had on higher heels or could find a step to stand on. so i would imagine that if i found myself in the netherlands i'd put on a brave face, but be sure to pack some 4 inch heels in my bag because i'd probably want to wear them pretty often. you definitely wouldn't amy?

March 22, 2007 6:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if i would feel 3 inches shorter than normal i would probably wear heels a lot more often to work and to go out at night, but not like to just go to the supermakret or something. know what i mean?

March 22, 2007 9:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

5ft7 is average for women? so 6ft is more common than 5ft2? that is really scary to think about. i'm sure i'd make a point of wearing heels very often since i'm only 4ft10. i think anyone around my height who says they wouldnt do the same to try to make themselves taller is either lying or not being totally honest with themselves.

March 22, 2007 9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm 4ft10 also. so i'd be 9 inches shorter than just the average woman there. that doesn't even take into account the tall and really tall ones. i'm sure i would wear heels more often than i do here. why should i be reluctant to admite this?

March 22, 2007 10:32 PM  
Anonymous dawn said...

heck, i wear heels to work everyday largely because 3 of the women i work with are 5ft10 and over. since i do this because of just 3 tall women, i'm sure i'd be even more liekly to do so in an entire country full of them!

March 23, 2007 8:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i live in manhattan too and looking around i find it hard to believe that average heightis only 5ft4. i would giuess it's closer to 5ft7. do you new york girls agree?

March 23, 2007 10:38 AM  
Anonymous gail said...

so i would feel even shorter there than 4ft6 and you want to know if i would wear heels more often than i do here amy? um, yeah. come on. you really wouldn't?

March 23, 2007 3:05 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

I don't think I would anymore than here - at least, not for aesthetic/emotional security reasons.

Honestly, no one believes me, but I usually wear flats or practically non-existant heels. I wear real heels when I'm at work or need to have dressy shoes (I somehow lack dressy flats...I need to fix that soon).

Which is not to say that I don't find myself annoyed at being shorter than everyone else - I do. But seriously, I'd need 6" heels to be average (or 9" if I'm on the UES apparently) HERE. 10" platforms in the Netherlands? No thanks.

March 23, 2007 4:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i agree with you in principal amy. i was just sayingg that to take the netherlands case for example, i think that after a while we would get tired of half the women there being 10 or more inches taller than us and that we might start to wear heels a bit more frequently because of it.

March 23, 2007 4:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

regarding the netherlands. here's what the equivalent would be: it would be as if tomorrow morning you woke up and found that you were 4ft5. you really don't think if that happened that you would maybe wear heels that morning if you hadn't intended to amy?

March 23, 2007 5:18 PM  
Anonymous holly said...

what i read said that they expect this growth trend to continue at this rate for about the next 40 years or so with the dutch gaining about an inch in average height every decade. and not only that but even today the average height for dutch women under 25 is at 5ft8. it's freaking me out thinking that begore long i'll be a foot shorter than the avergae dutch woman. and you have to ask me if i would wear heels there when going out on the town? no way would i show up at a club in flats with that kind of height discrepancy!

March 28, 2007 8:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what no one has brought up so far is tall kids. i feel much more uncomfortable being around tall kids than i do around tall adults. i teach 4rd graders (9 year olds) and 4 out of the 11 girls in my class are my height or taller (i'm 4ft10). so yes, i DO wear heels to work specifically to be taller than i am.

March 30, 2007 8:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah, 1 out of 20 dutch women is 6ft or taller. its crazy over here.

March 30, 2007 8:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what's crazy about 5ft8 being average height is that it means that a 6ft6 inch woman in the netherlands is just as close to average height as i am at 4ft10. that's nuts.

March 31, 2007 6:07 PM  
Anonymous Stacey said...

the anaology of feeling 4ft5 is really interesting. until i heard it put that way it didnt quite hit me how short i would probably feel there. i cant imagine that it wouldn't enter my mind to put on heels to add some height considering how short i'd feel.

March 31, 2007 10:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like shoes with heels, just a little bit like one or two inches. Definitely not 4". I wouldn't be able to walk.

April 12, 2007 12:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what i read about the netherlands was that they broke the height report down by age groups. for women 18 to 25 the average height was 5ft8.5. that means the average woman in the wearing a pair of pumps is about 6ft tall. what do they feed these girls over there?

April 19, 2007 10:56 PM  
Anonymous kara said...

i was in the netherlands and can vouch for their tallness. my boyfriend is 6ft tall and he estimated about 1 in 20 women he saw was his height or taller. and i'm not even 5ft!

April 19, 2007 11:12 PM  
Anonymous Gilraen Surion said...

I am Dutch and only 5'3"
How do I feel about this? How is one supposed to feel about the inevitable? It just is a fact of life. Example: In my second year at university I moved into a renovated student apartment building. I shared my apartment with six other students (co-ed mostly 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. I routinely stood on chairs.
You just end up dealing with it. I think there are some advantages though. Firstly you stand out for being shortish, in my opinion not a bad thing. Secondly you get to ask the most handsome guy in the supermarket to lend you a hand reaching for something on the topshelf.
As for wearing heals more often - we have a lot of cobbles on the roads here. Beautiful, but lethal for heels and ankles by association.

Gilraen

April 26, 2007 8:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thats interesting Gilraen. would you say that it is indeed true that 5ft8 or so is average height for young dutch women today? how common is it to come across women 6ft or taller there? just curious.

April 26, 2007 12:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

its also amazing gilraen that you feel so short among the dutch considering that you are 5ft3. thats practically avergage height here in the us, yet you make it sound tiny. do you think that at 4ft10 i would feel very short living there among the dutch? what i mean is, whould i feel significantly shorter there than i do here at home?

April 26, 2007 12:17 PM  
Anonymous stacey said...

wwo i did a google search and found this. this is amazing that they had to actually raise the doorframes.: The Dutch are now so tall that four years ago the government adjusted building codes to raise the standards for door frames and ceilings. Doors must now be 7-feet, 6 1/2-inches high.

April 26, 2007 3:56 PM  
Anonymous Gilraen Surion said...

I do feel significantly shorter, because I am. I currently live in the Netherlands again but I lived abroad for 11 years and felt much more average. I lived in the UK for a year and in New Zealand for 10 years. The average is clearly lower than in the Netherlands.

Yes 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.

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 sget 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. You just deal with it.

April 27, 2007 6:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wwow thanks for that info gilraen. we had been talking about how tall dutch women have become so its cool to talk to someone with first hand experince to validate this. one other question though.
i'm only 4ft10, which is not on the reasonabley normal scale, even her in the US. do you think i would have a hard time getting used to how short i would feel there? do you think someone my height would easily blend inin the netherlands, or would we be much more self conscious about being so short?

April 27, 2007 1:32 PM  
Anonymous Gilraen Surion said...

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.
In fact I have a cousin that is 6ft and 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 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.

I would say at 4'10" you would blend in as much as you want. Sure you'd encounter problems, but none of them impossible to overcome.
Clothes shopping would probably be hard. I would almost think you'd be redirected to the children's departments, given that a lot of children's cloths is fashionable this would be irritating but not a barrier. I think that the biggest problem would be shoes to be honest.

I have entered a post on my own blog on this one.

April 28, 2007 5:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so what do you think is average shoe size? would size 5s be difficult to find? what size shoe are you gilraen?

April 29, 2007 6:09 AM  
Anonymous Gilraen Surion said...

My shoe size is 4.5-5 and I have some trouble to find my size on occasion, in the styles that I want that is. As the size is not that common the number of models tends to be limited.

Standard sizes in ladies shops are from 4.5 to 8-8.5. Anything under or above that is speciality store or below for children but not too many interesting shoes in those.

Size 5 is certainly possible to find.

April 30, 2007 6:34 AM  
Anonymous stacey said...

is that a US size 4.5 you're talking about or british? its hard to believe that its easy to find US size 5 shoes in a country where women average 5ft8 when you can't can barely find them here in the US where average height is 5ft4. that's interesting.

April 30, 2007 4:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

she must mean she is a european size 4.5 which is the same as a US size 6.

May 01, 2007 8:57 AM  
Anonymous connie said...

so i found this topic on height in the netherlands to be fascinating and did a little research on it. i found a current average height chart for dutch girls released just this year. i'm pasting it below. have fun comparing! :)

6 years 4ft2.5
7 years 4ft4.5
8 years 4ft7
9 years 4ft10
10 years 5ft
11 years 5ft2.5
12 years 5ft5
13 years 5ft7
14 years 5ft8.5

May 20, 2007 3:04 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Thanks for posting the chart Connie! I bet most countries are seeing this trend as people are getting better nutrition and healthcare...

May 20, 2007 3:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

geez. i'm 5ft tall which is the same height as the average 10 year old over there. wow. amy, how does it feel to be the same height at the average 9 year old dutch girl? bet it makes you glad you live in the US?!

May 20, 2007 10:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh my god, that's nearly a foot taller than i am. and that's just average. think about how many teenage girls there must be over 6ft tall. i had no idea. whoever said they would not take a trip there without packing a few pairs of high heels, i agree with you!!

May 20, 2007 10:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that is insane. i'm going to measure later just to check but i'm gonna guess that if i stood on a step in my 3 inch heels i would be somewhere about 5ft8.5, or average height in the netherlands. i'm 4ft10 by the way. if anyone else my height wants to check this out in the meanwhile please go ahead and let us know. wow.

May 21, 2007 4:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

just checked for you! i'm 4ft10 and stood on a step in the 3 inch heels i already had on and came up with 5ft8.5. same as average height in the netherlands.
holy $#%^@, those girls are giants!

May 21, 2007 7:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow.that IS tall. hey amy, are you really sure you would be comfortable wearing flats in the netherlands in a place where most women are likely to be wearing heels, like out in a club? at least half the women there would be a foot taller than you (and me).

May 21, 2007 9:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so if average 8 year old were to play dress up with a pair of my 3 inch heels she would be the same height as me? wow. just imagine the tall girls!

May 21, 2007 9:56 PM  
Anonymous natalie said...

hey, this is awesome that i found this! i was in the netherlands myself this year and it is so true that everyone there is really tall. but it's especially the younger people, like 25 and under, who are the super tall ones who are driving these statistics up. in fact i was searching for information on this which is how i foud this site! someone else on this thread made a great point. being out there its as if you woke up one day and found yourself suddenly being about 5 inches shorter than you are now. and if you go out to a club you're in a place where most women are wearing heels, so if you're not, suddenly it's like you've shrunken about 7 inches from your normal height. i made the mistake of wearing flats my first night out there and indeed i would say that my 4ft10 in flats felt about the equivalent of being just 4ft3. now, i know we're all used to being short and many of us are comfortable and proud of our heihgt. but if any of you found yourself in the netherlands in a situation where you were felt about 7 inches shorter than normal, i can guarantee you that after the first time this happened you would purposely put on high heels the next time to feel taller. anyone actually think they wouldn't?

May 22, 2007 3:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you dont have to convince me. what you're saying is that in the netherlands i'd be the equivalent of 4ft5. i'm sure that in a situtation like going out to a club i would wear heels to give me extra height, just as anyone else would.

May 22, 2007 4:39 PM  
Anonymous nancy said...

wow, i cannot believe that my original post (and the one on amazons in the subway) have generated so many comments! shows i'm not the only one thinking of these things i guess. makes me wonder if i should start my own blog and steal all your peopel away from you amy. :)

May 22, 2007 5:03 PM  
Anonymous janet said...

so if at 4ft10 i am 10 inches shorter than average height, does that mean that in the netherlands you would be more likely to find a 6ft5 woman than one my height? amy, you seem to be good at these statistics based on your posts?

May 31, 2007 2:45 PM  
Anonymous Mary said...

i'm 5ft2 and even i wear heels to give me some height. you girls who are 4ft10 who said you would not ever wear heels to give yourself some height in a country where average height is 5ft8, are you serious? i just find that very hard to believe. its ok to admit it you know? it doesnt mean you're not ok with being short.

May 31, 2007 4:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh come on. even a 5ft6 woman would wear heels if dropped in a place where she felt the equivalent ot 5ft1. you really believe that if you were the equivalent of 4ft5 that you would wear flats in places where most other women were likely to be wearing heels? i do not believe this for even one second and i'm sure you do not either.

June 17, 2007 11:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, just came by this post by accident :) I am a 5'8.5" women, 26 years old, living in the Netherlands. I am indeed pretty average in height, generally girls younger than me will be taller, and women older than me will be shorter (bot not by much). Women 5'10" and over are considered tall here, but not freakishly so and no-one would look twice. I think for women to be considered 'extremely tall" she'd have to be 6'2" or over. I do not no what it's like to feel tall. Even when shopping for clothes, I'm more likely to find pants that are too long than too short. I figure most (not all) women who are considerably shorter than the average (say, 5'3" and under) aren't ethnically Dutch.
Amazon country? Probably, but they don't seem all that tall to me... different standards, I guess.
My mother and sister are both 5'9.5" and my father was 6'4". Most women in my family (the younger generations) are taller than me. I'm a shortie :( I live in heels.

July 19, 2007 2:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it is okay to wear heels if shorter than average.i have had holidays in Spain and i find that the tallest woman were Dutch and from Denmark also some German woman are quite tall.I was talking to a woman from Denmark and she was 5'10 her husband was 6'4 and her 2 kids both teenagers were hitting 6'0.I am rather comfortable waring about 1/1.5 ins no more.On that day talking to these people i could never imagine being that tall anyway.They were always very good has to when we talked they always sat down so my height of 4'10 was fine sitting.I have never worn shoes to bring me to 5'0 has it would be a let down when you take them off .I am glad that there are quite a few people 4'10 so why cant the average height be reduced then buying clothes would be easier.

October 15, 2007 7:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am originally from Latin-America and lived in Norway my whole life to about 20 before I moved to the UK, in Norway I did feel so much smaller! And people would always comment so I always wore heels! Here if i wear heels I average height! How odd is that? And I really do notice!

But tall men are hot though! I don't think being short is a dissadvantage the world is how you look at it!

March 19, 2008 12:15 PM  
Blogger GraphicWorld said...

I just went to the Netherlands and believe it or not I saw women that were 6ft 8 inches. And not just a few but many.

January 11, 2009 7:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey i am a man and i am 5ft 8 tall. I am always fascinated by tall woman. Can i know how many dutch women in 100 will be taller than me......

April 22, 2009 2:15 AM  
Anonymous shortman said...

Hi,I was emailed this linked by friends, I think because of my height and gender and am amazed by it. I am a man, only 5'3" tall, so am 5" shorter than the average Dutch woman. That is freaky. I am glad I don't live there, I would feel tiny there. I'd like to kow what percentage of Dutch women are over 6' tall, must be a lot if the average is 5'8". A 6' tall woman is nearer the average than I am.

July 23, 2009 4:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You would have trouble wearing high heels here in the netherlands, the streets are mostly cobblestone..... you wouldn't make it more than five steps.

March 10, 2010 1:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So I'm from the Netherlands and everyone is definitely much taller there than in Canada (where I live now). I am 5'9, but my family bugs me all the time about being short. My 15 year old brother is 6'4 and growing, and ALL guys in my family are over 6 feet. So compared to them I really am short, even though here in Canada it really doesn't feel like it.

March 30, 2010 8:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone that says that the average female height there is 5 ft 8 is either exaggerating, or doesn't know his/her own height.
I am a 5 ft 7 man and I have been there twice. There were lots of tall women there, but the MAJORITY of them were around my height, if not (very slightly) shorter.

Most Dutch statistics regarding height are self-reported. That means they aren't that valid.

August 02, 2011 5:22 AM  

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