Originally written in October, 2010 I feel this post is worth repeating for new readers and worth reminding myself that my goal is to become more “French” every spring.
I read quite a bit about the myth of the skinny French women. I enjoyed reading Mireille Guiliano’s book French Women Don’t Get Fat not because it’s stereotypically funny – it’s just plain interesting. I also love reading a good rant from writers and bloggers who rage against Mireille pointing out that, indeed, French women get fat. They actually take the time to write about how many French women are fat, what they are trying to do about it and how it’s society’s fault that they are fat. It’s all entertaining.
My mother was half French and Irish. My father was half Irish and German. Therefore, genetics says that I am roughly a quarter French. So, I am quarter skinny! For most of my life I was unbelievably skinny. I ate ice cream, cheese and milk every day but remained the smallest in my class. In high school I was still the thinnest, but grew taller. College was more of the same with me being the skinny girl who ate like a lineman for an NFL team. These facts (I didn’t say scientific facts), along with my intense love for chocolate prove that a small French gene can, and will, dominate over all others. The only hint of Irish and German in me relates to my love of a good drink and my stubbornness.
After the birth of my two children I became less French. I guess my “Frenchness” was expelled with the placenta because almost instantly new hips, thighs and a pooch in my stomach appeared out of nowhere. If I had been born 100% French then perhaps I would still be skinny. It’s my story and I’m sticking to it! It has nothing to do with me eating the same and exercising less. Mind you, I am not fat – just not considered skinny anymore.
Each year when I return to Paris to get my “French on” I find myself thinking about the debate between the American version of skinny and the French one. I have come to the conclusion that, in general, French women look skinnier because they take the time to purchase clothes that flatter their existing figures. They choose better options for clothes that accentuate their assets and diminish their flaws. They are not interested in purchasing volumes of clothes; they are only concerned with achieving the right look for the occasion and accessorizing it all perfectly. I own too many of the wrong clothes, too little of cool belts and shoes, but I have a fabulous handbag and scarf collection. I am only getting the fashion thing a quarter right.
I secretly hope that consuming French bread, coffee, champagne and cheese from French cows will awaken sleepy French genes causing them to rally – to battle the rest and restore my inner French dominance! A girl can hope, can’t she?