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Archive for the ‘French chic’ Category

There’s a popular stereotype about French women that conjures images of slim, elegant pouty beauties who grace sidewalk cafés as they puff sexily on cigarettes and sip espressos. These women go everywhere in a garter belt and stockings, never chip a nail and wouldn’t be seen dead in a pair of trainers. It’s a beautiful image to have but in my experience it lacks accuracy, especially if you go to a French suburban shopping centre, where there are reassuringly normal-looking women, not just French goddesses. Yet various writers world-wide are trying to convince us that we are inferior to the French dream woman, so we non-French gals find ourselves forking out a fortune to buy books that will transform us into  garter-belt goddesses who can eat foie gras and camembert on a daily basis without gaining an ounce.

Helena Frith-Powell and other Anglo-Saxones who now live in France do indeed testify to the fact that the habits of the French do contribute to weight-loss. I know for certain that the English lifestyle has seen me gain unwanted pounds which are difficult to shift and in the States the rate of obesity in adult women (and men and children, for that matter) is alarming. I’m certain that if I still lived in sporty New Zealand, this would not have happened, but for the moment home is in London so it’s time to get rid of the weight. Will these guides help? Is their advice going to be wise or ridiculous? I don’t know, but it’s time to take the books off the shelf, blow off the dust and see what they recommend.

First up for analysis will be Mireille Guiliano, author of bestselling French Women Don’t Get Fat and sequel, French Women for All Seasons. (out of interest others immediately jumped on Guiliano’s bandwagon to write about the weight-loss secrets of their own cultures: Mediterranean Women Stay Slim, Too by Melissa Kelly and Japanese Women Don’t Get Old or Fat by Naomi Moriyama are two such examples).

After analysing whether or not Guiliano’s advice is practical enough to incorporate into a busy working life, I’ll look at Entre Nous – A Woman’s Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl, by Debra Ollivier.

Then I’ll assess the Chic and Slim series by Anne Barone.

Keep checking the posts because I have a funny feeling there’ll be a lot to say, both for and against these guides.

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On Epicurienne I have made no secret of my dislike of children’s souvenir tees which say stupid things like “My Mom went to Vegas and all she bought me was this lousy tee-shirt”. (Honestly, people really do waste their money on silly things, but then they’re probably the same people who eat at McDonald’s in the middle of a diet, i.e. they make no sense.) These annoying tees come in teeny sizes indicating that the wearer cannot possibly read yet, let alone enunciate such things (turn away, now, Mensa children, we’re not talking about you). Anyway, when Monsieur and I were in France last week I spotted a French version of these tiny tourist tees:

It says

“My granny brought me back this pretty tee shirt from La Tranche sur Mer”

I have to admit that the design is sweet, and the cursive writing is très Frenchified, so the result isn’t as tacky as the Vegas versions, BUT isn’t it just a bit ironic that in the land that gave us Bonpoint, Petit Bateau, Absorba and other children’s fashion houses producing clothes so sweet they’re capable of converting the most determined child-free couple into the obsessively child-mad overnight, people would want to buy one of these? I remain unconvinced that the French would make their children wear such things. For ages, I’ve been scouring crowds of kids on trips to France for evidence that I might be wrong, but so far, it seems I’m right. Even the French supermarkets’ kids’ clothes have an almost edible quality of cute. The lousy tee-shirts must be intended solely for doof foreigners who think it’s chic to make their child wear a French-language top, even if they don’t know what it means.

On the other hand, I quite like this one, spotted in Grasse earlier this year:

“If you think I’m adorable, you should see my Mum!”

Now that’s what I call a compliment for a hard-working Maman. So much better…

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This beauty shop in La Rochelle stopped me in my tracks because of the painting hanging in its window. Apologies for not being able to lose more of the reflection on the glass, but if you look closely, you’ll see three topless old women smiling back at you. A better advertisement for booking an appointment I cannot think of!

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