How to Age Like the French Posted by on Aug 13, 2010 in Culture, Vocabulary

It’s no secret that French women are esteemed around le monde to be among the most alluring and beautiful women around. The New York Times published a list of 10 Ways to Age Like a Frenchwoman in July (on my birthday, en fait!), and I’ve been mulling it over ever since. Let’s see what vous pensez (you think):

10 Ways to Age Like a Frenchwoman

1. Look out for No. 1: “Frenchwomen are more elegant, more aware of their femininity,” says Dr. Michel Soussaline, a Paris plastic surgeon. “They simply take care of themselves better.”

Transparent Take: Nothing we can do about this one. If ma chambre et ma vie (my room and my life) were mieux rangée (neater, better organized), I too would take care of myself, artfully choosing elegant clothes and subtle accessories. As it is, I do everything I can to make it out of la maison in two shoes that match and without falling over myself.

Potential French Points: Wash. Also, did you notice they quote un chirugien esthétique (a plastic surgeon) for aging advice?

2. Keep it natural: Heavy makeup emphasizes wrinkles and pores. A little blush, mascara and lip color are all most Frenchwomen use. They spend a lot on skin care and beauty products, but not always on the most expensive brands.


TT: Fortunately, we know all about makeup!

Potential French Points: 5 (le blush, le mascara, le fard à paupières, le gloss à lèvres et l’eyeliner).

3. No soap: They use lotions and hydrating creams for the face (and body), often applied with a cosmetics sponge that provides enough abrasiveness to remove dead cells but not hurt delicate skin.

TT: This might be going trop loin, but since reading this, I’ve tried to use moisturing body wash au lieu du savon (in place of soap)… et j’ai la peau bien douce (and my skin is pretty soft). Je crois que ça marche (I think this works).

Potential French Points: How do you measure soft skin? Disons 10.

4. The wonder of water: Frenchwomen swear by cold-water rinses – after face-cleaning, shampoo or shower. They say it improves circulation, bringing all-important oxygen to the skin cells.

TT: I’ve heard this is done in Japan as well (est-ce que nos lecteurs japonais peuvent nous aider? Can our Japanese readers help with this ?). Cependant, the Google prompt when you type « French people » into the search bar is « Why do French people smell ». I smell un rat. Mais ça me paraît bien logique (but this seems logical), donc…

Potential French Points : 10 (encore la peau douce).

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

TT: There was a cabbage soup (soupe au chou) in the répertoire of my French famille d’accueil (host family), so I am entirely certain this point is true. An important French vocabulary word: un régime, a diet. Être en régime : to be on a diet. You will need these words before you go to France and even more once you’re there.

Potential French Points: Depends how much you want to lose! But this is such an important point, 5. By the way, we at the French blog love everybody and think you all look magnifique, and food should make you feel good, even (especially!) if you are en régime.

6. Exercise: Why? Go to a spa instead.

TT: What can we say? Someday, you should all beg for stories about the piscine municipale (public pool) in Paris, whose abonneurs (subscribers) clearly had other plans besides exercising. This sentiment appears to be fading, however.

Potential French Points: Can’t tell you, I’m off to the spa.

7. The doctor is in: Frenchwomen love their dermatologists. As one friend put it, why take a chance with over-the-counter skin remedies, when doctors can provide treatments that really work. Besides, the visits are largely covered by the French medical system.

TT: Don’t tell the Republicans, or we’ll never get national health coverage.

Potential French Points: The time it takes to get a prescription filled. In une pharmacie laced with beauty and diet aids like land mines, could be a while.

8. The surgeon is in: If Frenchwomen opt for cosmetic surgery, the objective is to look like themselves – not someone 20 years younger.

TT: Can I skip this one? No helpful opinions on la chirurgie esthétique. To each his own.

Potential French Points : Not 20, apparently. 10?

9. The look: Paris, like New York, is becoming very informal, but Frenchwomen 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 Frenchwomen tend to have great legs (with help from varicose vein treatments), they wear more skirts and dresses than their American counterparts.

TT: LOOOOOOOOOOVE this one! Finally, great advice. Maybe wardrobe adjustments should be covered by the national medical system. Cf.:

-Ségolène Royal (femme politique française, ancienne conseillère du président Mittérand)

-Christine Lagarde (Ministre de la Finance) et

-Rashida Dati (femme politique française, ancienne ministre de la Justice), who I’ve met and who is probably the chicest person I’ve ever seen. And she was pregnant at the time.

Potential French Points: Des millions.

10. Think sexy: As the French writer Françoise Sagan wrote: “A dress makes no sense unless it inspires men to take it off you.” Buy some fun, new underwear.

TT: Couldn’t agree more. Excusez-moi, I must go faire du shopping.

Potential French Points: Des milliards (billions). Allez-y, hop! Au shopping!


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