“I love my past; I love my present; I am not ashamed of what I have had; I am not sad because I no longer have it,” Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette.
Wouldn’t that be the most philosophically perfect way to live one’s life? I believe I see this in practice all about me. You cannot change the past, but today you can get up; make yourself look beautiful; get out there and fight the good fight. Age is irrelevant. It really is. Furthermore, what can you do about it, give up? Not an option.
It’s a grand part of the explanation why women of a certain age in France are considered alluring, attractive, seductive, mysterious.
I’m working on a little article for an American magazine and as I labor over trying to reconcile the roles of façade versus the more profound aspects of character, I started thinking: Am I spending too many words on the importance of exerting that daily 10 to 20 minute effort in front of the mirror? Is dressing up, making-up frivolous?
I’ve decided definitely not. It’s about self-respect, it’s about not giving up or giving in. It is what sets French women of all ages apart from those of us who fall into easy, lazy habits of self-neglect. Once the façade is in place we become confident and confidence is power.
The posters of the hauntingly beautiful Michelle Pfeiffer as Léa de Lonval in the film adaptation of Colette’s novel “Chéri” are looking down at us from the streets of Paris. Perhaps many of you have seen the film by Stephen Frears, but we have not. It opens tomorrow.
In a sentence: The film is about a love affair between a very young man and a woman some 30 years older.
Colette herself was twice married to men considerably younger than she and one of France’s most famous and famously beautiful mistresses, Diane de Poitiers, was 35 when Henry II, nearly half her age, became completely besotted with her charm and joie de vivre.
Are we still a little shocked by this? I don’t know. I don’t care. One thing I do know: It may take a woman of a certain age a little longer to make and keep herself looking desirable, but obviously it’s worth it.
“I believe there are more urgent and honorable occupations than the incomparable waste of time we call suffering,” Colette said.
Most certainly. We could be primping for our next adventure.
(In the tiny picture above taken in the early ’50s, Audrey Hepburn is hugging the nearly 80-year-old Colette who we sometimes forget also wrote the marvelous fairy tale, “Gigi”.)