Sunday, August 8, 2010

French Women Won't Get Fat, and Other Secrets

I have wanted to share this article from the NY Times, Thurs. 7-15-10 so . . .

PARIS - I often see an elderly woman in my Paris neighborhood waltzing down the street to her own imagined music, flashing a slightly demented smile. but she always wears a matching outfit, has great posture and is beautifully made up.

She clearly loves being herself. And she makes me think that in France, women might forget everything else as they age - but not their sense of style.

If there is a secret to aging well, the French women must know it. And even the average French woman seems to defy the notion that, as one grows older, you either have to disguise that process with Botox, eye-lifts, lip plumpers and all sorts of procedures that convey a desperate "youthful" look, or else just give up altogether and let the ravages of time take their toll.

While American women approach personal care with practical efficiency, the French women I know regard the pampering of their skin, hair and body as an enjoyable, gratifying ritual.

Looking attractive, at any age, is just what French women do. Beauty is a tradition handed down from generation to generation. "My grandmother always told me, 'Never neglect yourself, not even in the tiniest details,'" my friend Francoise said, with a sweeping gesture from her hair to her toes. The French actress, Leslie Caron, still Gigi-like at 79, told me mother's favorite saying: "Women's skin is too fair to go bare."

Though French men are clearly interested, beauty is a female topic. When, over dinner, I asked a grandmother of three how she managed to stay so beautiful, she deflected my question saying, "I never discuss these things in front of my husband."

The No 1 response to my informal survey of French women about years of magical aging is not gaining weight. Ever! It a French woman happens to see an additional kilogram or two on her bathroom scale, she will do whatever is necessary to force the needle back where it belongs. "I keep my weight steady, no ups and downs," says, Leslie Caron. "I avoid all excess." She claims to eat all kinds of foods in small - her friends say minuscule - portions, and she doesn't drink alcohol. It's not so much that "French women don't get fat," as the title of Mireille Guilliano's best-seller had it. Rather French women "Won't" get fat.

Not that they go to the gym. When my husband and I arrived in Paris and asked our personal banker - everyone has one - for gym recommendations, her response was: "Why? Gyms are a form of torture." The acceptable way to burn calories is to walk.

If French women don't walk enough to stay en forme, there is always a pill, lotion, a machine or a treatment to do the trick. Pharmacies have counters full of diet and figure-improvement remedies.

And French women also recommend facials, massages and spa "cures" in their campaign against wrinkles, cellulite, saggy bottoms, bellies and breasts.

As for makeup, French women of almost every age (except teenagers) regard less as best. The idea is to look as natural as possible: a little color on the eyelids, mascara, eyeliner and lip gloss.

Of course, it's easy to look natural if your skin is great. French femmes spend about $2.2 billion a year on facial skincare, as much as Spanish, German and British women put together.

But not on soap. Madame Figaro magazine recently quoted the French actress Lea Druckeras saying, "The day I stopped using soap, my life changed." She uses hydrating milk-cream.

For French women, aging seems to be a matter of mind over makeup. Francoise Sagan once wrote, "There is a certain age when a women must be beautiful to be loved, and then there comes a time when she must be loved to be beautiful." And French women are loved as they get older - most importantly, by themselves. Case is point: my loony neighbor - completely coordinated, perfectly made up and thoroughly French.
Anne Morrison


Ten ways to age like a French woman:

1) LOOK OUT FOR NO. 1: "French women are more elegant, more aware of their femininity," says Dr. Michel Soussaline, a Paris plastic surgeon. "They simply take care of themselves better."

2) KEEP IT NATURAL: Heavy makeup emphasizes wrinkles and pores. French women spend a lot on skin care and beauty products, but not always on the most expensive brands.

3) NO SOAP: French women use lotions and milk-creams.

4) THE WONDER OF WATER: French women swear by cold-water rinses.

5) DIET: French women of a certain age maintain their weight by eating carefully: fresh, never processed, foods, especially fruits and vegetables, in small portions, If les Francaises do put on the kilos, they take them off immediately - with the aid of pills or other treatments.

6) EXERCISE: Why? Go to a spa instead.

7) THE DOCTOR IS IN: French women love their dermatologists (and Aestheticians). As one friend put it, why take chances with over-the-counter skin remedies, when professionals can provide treatments that really work.

8) THE SURGEON IS IN: If French women opt for cosmetic surgery, the objective is to look like themselves - not someone 20 years younger.

9) THE LOOK: Paris, like New York, is becoming very informal, but French women never try to dress like their daughters. Accessories count: good jewelry, fantastic shoes or boots, and a scarf casually wrapped to conceal those neck wattles. And since French women tend to have great legs (with the help from varicose vein treatments) they wear more skirts and dresses then their U.S. Counterparts.

10) THINK SEXY: As the French writer Francois Sagan wrote, "A dress makes no sense unless it inspires men to take it off you." Buy some fun, new underwear. (NYT)

1 comment:

  1. great tips from the article--- except the "no exercise" tip! :0)

    btw, come on over to one of my blogs and join/post comments! spread the love. LOL


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