Have you heard about the new book by Mireille Guiliano?
It’s called Why French Women Don’t Get Objectified.
Oh, you haven’t? That’s because it’s fiction.
The best-selling author prefers to focus on more important issues, like why French Women Don’t Get Fat and Why French Women Don’t Get Facelifts.
After all, women should be valued for how they look, not what they do, right…?
This is backed up by recent reportage of the President’s love triangle.
Francoise Hollande’s young lover, Julie Gayet, poses semi-naked beside stitched-up pics of the older woman, Valerie Trierweiler, who’s nicknamed The Rottweiler.
Sure, it sells papers. But why do we buy into it?
I have to confess: I’m one of the worst offenders.
This month I’ve been travelling through France, marvelling at the savoir-faire of these women (and the men – ooh la la!)
After some serious soul-searching, here’s my response to Mme. Guiliano’s top tips:
STYLE: FOCUS ON HAIR AND SHOES
“Style is the manifestation of an attitude, and good shoes and a great haircut go a long way to make you look healthier and more attractive.”
OK. Maybe I’m a bit simple. But how do shoes make you appear healthier?
Imagine this, from a doctor’s surgery in The Marais.
“Doctor, I’ve been feeling tired and dizzy over the past few days. And I have a nagging cough.”
“Let me take a look at your shoes, Mademoiselle. Well, they look just fine! You’re a picture of good health.”
Here’s a reality check. Parisians do a lot of walking between Metro stations. So they need good shoes.
Both sexes sport fashionable haircuts. But you could say that of most people who work in a big city.
And, with 12 per cent unemployment in the outer suburbs, a pair of Jimmy Choos and blow-dry at Le Bon Marche are well below food and shelter on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
SKINCARE: PAMPER AND PROTECT
“We can’t turn back the clock, but we can slow it down. If you want to look younger definitely cut your sugar intake. Reduce your exposure to cigarettes and air pollution. Water is the least expensive anti-ageing potion.”
Quick! Alert the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique.
Mme. Guiliano has discovered the fountain of youth.
She actually knows how to slow down the human body clock.
What a remarkable breakthrough.
Of course, it’s only women who want to look younger. Men have no need for such sage advice.
Although I fail to see how the standard French breakfast of a croissant, coffee and cigarette complies with this.
EXERCISE: WALK THE WALK
“Most of the French women I know don’t like the idea of exercising in a gym. Ask yourself if your normal daily routine involves 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity, whether that’s walking, taking the stairs, practising yoga, swimming or having sex.”
Who would have thought? Doing exercise is good for your health. And, it helps you shed weight.
These words of wisdom are accompanied by a photo of the actress Juliette Binoche, a wealthy woman who has clearly won the genetic lottery.
It’s like saying all Australians could look like Elle MacPherson if they walked up the stairs instead of taking the lift. Enough said.
MAKE-UP: LESS IS MORE
“Too much make-up, especially as we age, can make us look worse rather than better. Boldly pencilled eyebrows, too much eyeliner and bright shades are best avoided.”
Actually, this is true.
But why is every piece of advice about how we look?
What about improving our minds, career prospects, or relationships?
Especially in a country which ranks 57th in the world for women’s equality.
According to the New York Times, “French women earn 26 percent less than men but spend twice as much time on domestic tasks”.
Where’s the chapter on that?
DIET: THE ART OF RESTRAINT
“One of our biggest delusions seems to be that we can keep on eating the way we did when we were young. We can’t.”
Damn! Now I’m regretting having pain au chocolat for breakfast, baguette avec jambon et fromage for lunch and a bottle of Bordeaux for dinner tout les jours.
Just kidding. It was awesome.
Those extra kilos spell A Life Well Lived across my torso.
When I laugh, it jiggles, which makes me giggle even more.
“As we grow older, one of our biggest fears is losing our attractiveness, our very presence.”
Memo Mme. Guiliano: Our attractiveness is not our presence. That belongs to what is in our hearts and heads; our character and personality; our warmth and humour.
Furthermore, losing our looks is not our biggest fear. What about losing our loved ones; our health; our careers?
Or our sanity.
Inexplicably, I felt compelled to ask every French woman (and man) how they managed to stay slim while hoofing into meat and pastry.
They all said the same thing: “We eat in moderation, and we exercise.”
Talk about Special Subject: The Bleeding Obvious.
Now, if only I could write a best-selling book on the subject.