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Secrets of a French Femme Fatale

At many of our parties, women ask me about our French counterparts. It seems that we Americans are intensely curious about the mysterious, secretive ways of French women. Why don't they get fat? How do they always look so stylish? What exactly is that "je ne sais quoi" they seem to possess in spades? A quick search on Amazon.com reveals dozens of book titles that promise to reveal how we can dress like French women, eat like French women, act like French women, and seduce like French women. There is: French Women Don't Get Fat, French Women Don't Sleep Alone, Entre Nous, A Woman's Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl, Fatale: How French Women Do It, and All You Need to Be Impossibly French: A Witty Investigation into the Lives, Lusts, and Little Secrets of French Women, just to name a few.

These blog posts at Fashion Nation and The Huffington Post are great primers on what we can learn from French femmes (they may not get fat, but you can take some comfort in the fact that the French word for 'women' [femmes] rhymes with 'ham'). Although there are practical considerations (French women eat less processed foods, exercise more, eat smaller portions, etc.), it seems that the big difference between us and French women is an "état d'ésprit" or state of mind. Yves Saint Laurent said: "The most beautiful make-up on a woman is passion..." Coco Chanel said you should spray perfume "wherever you want to be kissed."

And consider these dietary "secrets" from French Women Don't Get Fat:

  • French women typically think about good things to eat. American women typically worry about bad things to eat. In other words, French women eat for pleasure and don't eat thinking about guilt.
  • Presentation is just as important as taste; a French woman slowly savors her food using all five senses.
  • French women know one can go far with a great haircut, a bottle of Champagne, one rich satisfying, low-calorie chocolate bon bon, and a divine perfume.
  • Likewise, French women get a kick from Champagne, as an apéritif or with food, and don't need a special occasion to open a bottle.
  • French women entertain at home and enjoy dining in as much as dining out.
  • French women know that l'amour fait maigrir (love is slimming).
  • French women love to sit at a cafe and do nothing but enjoy the moment.

So there you have it: just add a little more pleasure, a little more freedom, and a little more self-confidence, and you too will exude the joie de vivre of a French femme fatale.


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