“The only color in school”

“It felt so special and I was so amazed,” Demi Carolina Gill, 17, says of her first acquaintance at Thomas Kempes College in Arnhem. “In the middle of the circle, I was there. I could look at all my new mates. I looked around and wondered why there weren’t more people like me. Almost everyone was white.”

The student from Arnhem spoke about this on the TV show Op Weg Naar Het Lagerhuis. “It changed my life.” Here Demi shares her story.


My primary school was very multicultural. The master was the only person in the class with Dutch parents. This is why I was so surprised when I went to high school. In the first semester, I had only two students of non-Dutch ancestry with me. I thought, oh, I’ve never experienced this before. I didn’t immediately feel that I belonged there, but I asked myself why I was here alone and why my situation was different from that of everyone else. I felt lonely.”

So many questions

Since Demi didn’t really feel like connecting with anyone, she had a hard time. I made some friends, but they remained superficial. There was no one I could look up or ask questions. While I needed to, because I have a lot of questions. Why did my classmates have an iPhone 8 and I’m from Samsung? Why do girls buy clothes in class and I don’t? And why wasn’t my hair so nice and smooth compared to the rest? I couldn’t compare myself to anyone, which made me isolate myself.”

Crazy bouncy hair

Demi began to hide. Literal. She explains, “The girls around me had beautiful hair that was sleek, straight and shiny. It was seen as neat. But it was thick and dry. It didn’t just go ‘finely’ back or straight in the tail. It made me very insecure.”

That’s why Demi always wore her hair to school. “I combed it tight with gel in a bun. I felt safe, because it made it a lot less jittery and crazy. If the strand got loose, I fixed it right away. Sometimes it was a really partial turn, but then at least I got the idea that I also look cute.” and tidy.”

Read more under the picture>

life changing speech

Although different now, Demi calls it “life-changing”. She feels happy with herself, as she is. Before my participation in Towards the House of Commons, I wrote a speech on self-acceptance and freedom. But from that moment I realized that I did not accept myself at all and set myself free. I thought: How can I make a speech about it, and I don’t do it myself? “

much happier

Realization led to the start of Demi’s acceptance process. “I was okay with the fact that I had a different background and looked different from the average student at the Thomas a Kempis gym: white and with Dutch parents. I learned to give myself space for that. My hair is a metaphor for that. I am now releasing myself and my hair.” It was a threshold I had to cross, but I no longer let my feeling depend on other people’s opinion. I wasn’t expecting it at all, but it makes me happier with myself!”

In addition, Demi gets a lot of strength from the support of others. “I got a lot of positive feedback in school. Some even compliment my hair! People also say they are okay with me sharing my experiences and feelings. It’s good that they show a little empathy and treat people differently as equals.”

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Demi Carolina Gill to the House of Commons
Demi has her hair down while she speaks. Photo: BNNVARA

More acting

With her performance, Demi hopes for more representation and acceptance. You still don’t see many people like me on TV, but everyone deserves a place. Regardless of skin colour, origin or whatever. I hope there are now more young girls with curly hair who can emulate me. Until they realize that they are beautiful too and let them be themselves. Like I finally realized. Because only when you dare to be what you are, you are free! “

Curious about Demi’s speech? You can refer here to NPO 3.

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