28 August 2019

We are French

On shopping bag of a boutique that sells lingerie:

"We are French. We believe in being sexy independent fashionable and optimistic"


French women care about how they look. They care about their weight, their skin, their hair, what they eat, and how they present themselves. Not so much for others as for their own sense of bien-être. It's cultural. There are few self-help books and no Tony Robbinses. No "self-esteem industry" here; one gets on with life without having to brag, considered vulgar; a sure sign of insecurities. If anything, one's own accomplishments and possessions are downplayed and when it comes down to it, few care if they're liked, the heart of the endearing French Attitude. You won't hear, "It's what's inside that counts" because the outside is seen as almost always the reflection (and result) of what's knocking around on the inside: all of those small daily choices and decisions, spanning years, have a cumulative effect. Even women of modest means treat themselves to a special accessory or scent; mani-pedis and facials are part of life's routine, and in Paris, lingerie shops are as numerous as tabacs. One of my French nieces, a young college student at the time, excused herself early from a family lunch so as not to miss her weekly massage - a "necessity," she explained, despite living on a budget. While gym clubs and joggers abound, many find other ways to get in daily exercise, such as foregoing the elevator and taking the stairs, or walking instead of using métro, car or bus. Cities all over France have become bicycle friendly, and not just to reduce pollution. One role of the sacred vacances d'été is to shed the year's stress, and with August coming to a close and everyone sharing stories and photos of where they went and what they did, Paris is re-energized. BPJ

I give Talks on this and other French cultural topics. Contact me for more information.

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