When it comes to beauty, French women seem to have a certain je ne sais quoi; a look so perfectly primped and polished, it seems inherently effortless.
My husband (Paul) and I were sitting at a little sidewalk cafe in Paris last week, people watching (and not eating) for a couple of hours. (Did I mention the service was incredibly slow? They’d like to “nice it up” by saying they know how to enjoy a meal – but I’d say it’s just rude.) But, I digress.
Because I’m in the beauty biz, of course I’m taking notes on the runway in front of our little table – on hair, makeup and fashion. The dancer in me also watches aplomb (a person’s carriage and sense of confidence).
I looked pretty good that day, I’d thought – except my feet were swollen so I was wearing running shoes, (which no beautiful women were wearing on the streets of Gay Paree.)
Also, I noticed everyone seemed thin. The women had a classic style that was simple and sensual. I was surprised to see that the middle-aged women looked even better – like they KNEW how to put themselves together after years of experience.
There was little in the way of undergarments, breasts and buttocks were au naturale – even saggy ones. The body was celebrated, not exploited by these women’s fashion sense.
Paul and I were hot, crabby and tired. We landed in Paris that morning and began our city tour straight away because we only had a day to spend there. I felt like a big-ole-frump! Working on it.
Now that I am back to reality, I’d like to look at what their beauty secrets are and get a few things straight about the whole “French woman are the most beautiful women in the world” notion as well.
- They are notorious for wearing scarves and accessories beautifully. Conformity is not a value for the French – but each woman’s singularity, confidently putting a personal stamp on whatever she is wearing.
We can do that – no?
- The French smoke (not every one of course, but many! ) and they drink wine, lots of it. Poisons have a way of dulling the appetite. Couple that with the fact that their food is divine - and you have a magic potion for thinness. Who wants to gorge on haute cuisine? You savor and linger over it – right?
I almost killed myself drinking and smoking my a*# off in Europe. It made me look haggard. Hmmm moderation must be key – that or their bodies are used to it and have adjusted. The food thing I’ve got nailed…whew!
- The women you see who are so slim, are Parisian women in the touristic parts of the capital – or models and movie stars. These women are generally well-off and upper-class. They are very aware of fashion and of their “ligne” (figure). If you go out into other areas of Paris or into the provinces, you will see that the French woman is not universally slim.
I must be the typical American woman buying into the media hype of trying to be the “perfect woman”.
- Paid maternity leave is 16 weeks for child #1 and #2 and 26 weeks for the third. The dad gets two – that helps!!
Enough said! After 4 kids, with NO paid leave – I get it. And, I got little help from the hubs (bless his heart), he got zero time-off and was tired too!
- The French drink more water and they walk and bike everywhere!
It’s true, water and exercise are key. That’s another reason I want to move to a little town (Arroyo Grande); I could bike to work!!!
- The pleasure factor – the art of doing it yourself at your own pace without feeling guilty is embraced.
How can we be sensual and confident when we are running around like chicken with our heads cut off? And guilt?
- The historical architecture in Paris is breathtaking – the woman have a backdrop that is so rich and elegant, that they NEED to dress for it.
- Good bags, good shoes and classic pieces are staples for the Parisian woman.
Seems like youth and fads dictate fashion here.
- They are secretive about their beauty secrets – and they lie!
There is a mystic and an attitude that must be cultivated in order to keep the reputation that French woman are the most beautiful women.
- CARING about your skin = high maintenance. I saw a YouTube that interviewed a French woman with flawless skin; “What is your secret to such beautiful skin?” “I only use water,” was her response…riiiight.
All the beautiful women of the world attend to themselves. You know it’s true – look in the mirror when you wake up, or after a party weekend of indulgence.
- So French women are beautiful – outside, and that’s pretty easy really. But are they warm? friendly? kind? What makes someone radiate true beauty? You know the answer.
Here is what I have gleaned from my study of the iconic French mademoiselle:
1.) Be yourself! Carefully attend to what makes you unique and beautiful.
2.) Spend time caring for yourself: eating right, grooming well, exercising and drinking plenty of water.
3.) If you are over 40, redefine beauty for yourself – a style consultant may be helpful. You have a mature elegance that with the right attitude can outshine even the youngest pup!
4.) Let go more, lighten up, don’t rush, enjoy food, make friends, drink in moderation…have fun!
5.) Cultivate the values that reward and fill you up, that honor others. Fulfill the purpose you were put here for by following your passion.
Fashion and outward beauty are really shallow in the grand scheme of things. But ooh la la so much fun!
See you at the spa!