Jitske Van de Veire, Hairstylist
This interview appeared first on CNTROL+F.
Jitske Van de Veire’s unofficial uniform consists of pitch black clothes and platinum blonde hair, so you wouldn’t believe colours play a huge role in her life. They do, however, as she’s a fulltime hairstylist at De Wakko Kapper in Ghent. For about 8 hours a day, she’s cutting and dying the hair of her clientele in the craziest cuts and coolest colours, and will proudly wave the rainbow flag as member of the LGBT movement after-hours. (That’s a cumbersome way of saying that she likes girls.)
It's remarkable you can hardly see any of Jitske's tattoos in these pictures, as it's almost impossible not to notice them in real life. Sure, every tattooed person considers their ink as an eternal reminder of a certain time in their life, but when Jitske tells us the stories behind her tattoos, you can't deny how much they reveal about the rocky roads and aha moments in her life. While her first tattoo was a world map between her shoulder blades — "Like every other stereotype teenager, I suffered from 'wanderlust' and was bound to travel the world" — she now tries to live in the moment (she tattooed the word 'now' on her wrist as a daily reminder) and finds joy in the little things in life. "I'm the happiest when I'm at home, making dinner with my girlfriend or drawing her naked body in one of my notebooks."
Appreciating the small things doesn't make you a boring person, on the contrary! Jitske took a long detour to become the person she is today. Defining her true strengths and paving her path in life didn’t come easy, but it was by trying everything and anything that interested her, that Jitske discovered a talent for hairdressing. Although the job can be stressful, nothing makes her feel more in control. "If there's one thing I learned during the years I didn't know what to do with my life, it's to always jump in with both feet." After you, Jitske!
Full name — Jitske Van de Veire
Date of birth — 11.09.'93
Zodiac sign — Virgo, but I don't identify with it
Where do you live? — 9050, Ghent
Describe who you are and what you do — A black wearing hair wizard who draws the naked world in a Moleskine notebook and loves anything aesthetically pleasing
If you were a colour, what would you be? — White
Name something you'll never be — Unfriendly
Current girl crush — Daenerys Targaryen, always and forever
Was it your childhood dream to become a hairdresser?
"Not at all! Honestly: I never really knew what I wanted to ‘become’ in life. Art was my first love, so I started studying Art History at university, but I quickly threw in the towel when it didn’t feel right anymore. I repeated the process a few times, and suddenly found myself in a hairdressing traineeship. I’ve got to admit I was biased, too. Of course, every job comes with a few clichés, but nowadays I get so mad I used to believe all hairdressers were superficial and dumb! Because I get judged by these prejudices, too. Hairdressing is hard work: you’ve got to reinvent yourself constantly, keep up to date with the trends, beat the competition, stay friendly no matter what and risk a negative judgement every 20 minutes (as there’s always a chance someone won’t like what you did.) Appearances matter; even on off-days, you’re not allowed to walk in barefaced and greasy-haired. You’re constantly quoted on everything you do; so why would hairdressers be less valuable than lawyers or doctors? I can’t wrap my head around it."
When did you realize you were good at it?
"When I was learning the basics of hairdressing and the thought 'What the hell are you doing with your life?!' didn’t run through my mind anymore. I felt so peaceful when doing people’s hair, and never experienced something like this before. It was one of my biggest aha moments, which resulted in me making a pact with myself to do everything I can to master the art of hairdressing and finally finish something I’ve started.
As I said before: hairdressing is hard work, but I never feel exhausted by it at the end of the day. I love creating something in less than 20 minutes, and getting so much appreciation from it. It’s those short and happy moments that make my day. The past few years have definitely been a lesson in listening to my gut feeling."
Do you ever think about starting something for yourself?
"Yes I do, but not for the time being. My boss encourages diversity and almost all our clients are somewhat alternative; they like the idea of getting crazy haircuts and often give me carte blanche. I wouldn’t feel happy in a salon where most of the clients only want a trim or some highlights. I’m always happy to go to work. If I would start my own business, I like the idea of going 'back to basics' and giving my clients a really good haircut for a fair price. Brushing wouldn’t even be on the menu!"
How important is social media for your work?
"It's an easy and informal way to show the world what you're doing. Unlike traditional and online advertising, you're not imposing people, and only inspiring people who consciously decided they want to get inspired by you. Some people still resent this digital revolution, but I think you should just roll with it and make it your own. I have two accounts — one personal and one professional — and I'm thankful for every follower."
Tell us about your childhood.
"I loved being in the spotlight; I guess that’s something I inherited from my dad. At the same time, I was also incredibly sensitive to the judgement of others. Whenever a teacher told me off, I had to keep myself from crying. It was a very conflicting time: I longed for attention, but I simultaneously resented it because I needed it to feel good about myself. Life’s so much easier when you don’t care about anything or anyone. I guess I’m an outgoing-introvert? I definitely learned to put up a wall around me early on, to protect me from disappointment and people who take up too much of my energy."
Can you tell us about the moment you decided to be heterosexual?
"(Sarcastic) Best decision of my life, obviously. I always knew I liked girls, but teenage girls who struggle with their sexuality are such drama queens, myself included. After one particularly dramatic event with a girl I was so desperately in love with, I decided to call it quits and become ‘mainstream’. I used to flirt with girls and boys at the time, so I thought I was bisexual and could easily start relationships with boys. Long story short: I couldn't, and I never felt more lost during those years. The moment I met my now-girlfriend Marthe and started being honest with myself again, everything clicked. Because I know otherwise, I feel blessed for where I am in my life right now. Such a cheesy expression, but it’s true though!"
You’re the offspring of radio and tv personality Peter Van de Veire. What’s it like to have a famous dad?
"I’m his oldest daughter, and I consider him my king. Are those daddy issues? I don’t care. He’s the first person I’ll call whenever something good or bad happens in my life. He started to gain lots of media attention when I was about thirteen years old, and up until some gossip magazine published a picture of our family made after a movie premiere, lots of people even thought he was gay! (laughs) People often recognize him, but they never think I’m his girlfriend – luckily! Some people are instantly friendlier when they find out I’m his daughter, which I can’t handle. I will always keep my cool, though, and just smile and nod when they ask. Admittedly: I used to be frightened of the idea to always be known as ‘daughter of’. Nowadays, I’ve made peace with the fact I will always be that, but I’m also much more. He encouraged me to not care about what other people might think of my hairdressing education. “Because the discouraging people are often the ones who never dared to make such a bold choice when they had the chance to”, he said. It's one of the things I love most about him: he always says the right things on the right time."
Do you regret something?
"That I changed myself to please others. Lesson learned: your truest self is always your most beautiful self."
Can you tell us about your tattoos?
"I got my very first tattoo at a dodgy tattoo studio in Warsaw. I didn’t know what I wanted on my body, I just knew I wanted a tattoo. Back then, a world map between my shoulder blades seemed so ‘unique’. I truly believed escaping reality and traveling the world was my purpose in life – but I know better now. (laughs) I feel comforted by the thought it’s okay to only see a small part of it. After the world map, some small tattoos followed, including the word ‘nu’ – ‘now’ in Dutch – on my wrist. It looks the same from every angle; whoever looks at it, will always be conscious about the exact moment of that experience. I like the idea of visualizing time; such a mysterious concept. My latest tattoos express my love for art. I consider the art of tattooing an art itself, but my body is also a walking canvas of drawings by Pablo Picasso and Egon Schiele. It’s my way of admiring and appreciating their work. The naked woman on the back of my upper arm comes with a funny story: it was only after putting it onto my body – I never regretted any of my tattoos, but this one was so big it took me some time to get used to it – I learned that the naked woman was Egon Schiele’s younger sister. An explicit portrait of his younger sister can only mean he had some wicked, incestuous feelings for her, no? (grins)"
What’s the story behind your piercings?
"My piercings served as a remembrance of the times I desperately tried to look alternative, but I had them removed a few years ago, when I tried heterosexuality. Most people remove their piercings to feel like themselves again, but I never felt less ‘me’ during those years. My girlfriend helped me to feel comfortable in my own skin again, and inspired me to be my truest self: a tattooed and pierced lesbian. (laughs) Nowadays, I just like the look of two pierced nostrils. I played with the idea of getting a third one, but when even the piercer warns you it might look too much, you believe him!"
What does beauty mean to you?
"It’s all in the details. Not about having your hair or make-up on point."
What's your ‘Big Hairy Audacious Goal’?
"To build something that’s entirely ‘me’; a recognizable style immune to trends and hyped concepts. I don’t know what or when, but I would like it to be a honest representation of who I am.”