Former Nairobi Diaries star and fitness trainer Marjolein Blokland said that she thought she was white when growing up.
The only child to a Kenyan mother and Dutch father opened up about her life to media personality Pinky Ghelani on What Women Want on an array of things about her life among them her influence in regards to how she viewed herself in regards to her body while growing.
Born in Netherlands, Blokland moved to Kenya in her early teens and said that she considered herself white as mixed kids were not common in Netherlands at the time.
“It’s been a mix of both culture and society when I can to Kenya from the Netherlands, I considered myself white, I was white and I wanted to be white. We see mixed kids are common now than in the early 90s when I was born but now it’s like all the age and people,” said Blokland.
While in the Netherlands, she attended a school where there were only three mixed kids, hugely impacting her influence towards herself.
“I remember going to school in the Netherlands and in the entire school there was a girl like me a Moroccan, and an Indonesian boy and that was it. In my neighbourhood there was us, a Filipino family, the same Moroccan boy and that’s it. Whites everywhere,” she added.
“I had to get used to black people after I moved to however, she still considered herself white even after joining a school with mixed children.
Back in the Netherlands, she says that she didn’t see colour at all and I hanged out with black people but it wasn’t until she landed in Kenya.
“I left the airport and you know you’re used to seeing white people and now you’re seeing black people so I had to get used to that. I then went to Braeburn and the only transition was for me to learn and speak English but other than that I was relatively comfortable but still wanted to be black,” she said.
She said she started embracing more of herself when she was 16 after being mocked by fellow students and started interacting with people of her calibre.
“I just started embracing being me more and also as I went out to the world to look for jobs you start interacting with people. You look at brown people and you’re like ‘she looks more African’ and then your kind of just be happy with where you are and how you look rather than being unhappy and trying to look like something or someone that you can never look like.”
At 14, Blokland started Muay Thai, a form of kickboxing originating from Thailand, to help her tackle her struggles with weight and self-esteem.
“I started training in 2005 when I was 14, doing it as a form of exercise to lose weight. I quickly fell in love and wanted to know the art of it. So, I started to take it more seriously and put in more time and effort to learn all that I could about it.”
She concludes by saying that overcoming negativity in herself and that she never used to believe in her abilities and always sought out an easier route, but realised that easy doesn’t build anything and that challenges build character and success. “Same applies to my career. The minute I accepted challenges, that’s when my business started growing.”