No one wants to hear this, at least not in a magazine article, or so I’ve been told. But guess what? I can say whatever I want in this space, so here goes (qualified as always within the context of my observations and opinion): Generally, Frenchwomen of a certain age look better than we do. Not younger necessarily, but better.
They take more time, make more of a daily effort getting ready to face the world. They watch what they eat and drink (but you knew that) and live a more philosophically realistic life than we do. They’re prepared for disappointments in the same way they hope for happiness. The ups and downs life deals out are natural, normal, c’est la vie.
No one expects to be happy all the time or to be 30 for the rest of her life. The French constitution does not promise the “pursuit of happiness” as an inalienable right.
To simplify I would say Frenchwomen are disciplined, hopeful pessimists. In so far as fate allows, they like to be in control of their destiny.
With that in mind, a few days ago I asked several friends and acquaintances what they thought a woman could do to stay young, en forme for the duration. For the purposes of this piece I stipulated up front, no help from the medical community was permitted in their responses.
This is what they told me:
- Watch your weight. (I’m in France, what can I say?)
- Don’t smoke. (Not because of what it can do to one’s health or skin, but rather the act itself makes a woman look old these days. Yep, that’s what one told me and others nodded in agreement.)
- Light colors near the face.
- Invisible lip liner to keep lipstick from melting into barcode lines. Or a touch of almost colorless gloss.
- Wispy bangs until the Botox decision is made — or not.
- Bronzer on the legs, hands and lightly on the face.
- Eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies, particularly pomegranates, pineapple and artichokes. (I have a friend in New York who swears by pomegranate juice and vodka as a perfect finish to her workday.)
- Chocolate. Eh, oui…
- Avoid alcohol. At the most limit intake to maximum one small glass of red wine per day except for celebrations. (I guess they’re not reading the thousands of articles written about the benefits of the grape.)
- Listen to the music of our children and grandchildren — once — so we’re branché, i.e. “with-it, au courant.”
- Add one to three fresh, trendy items each season to our wardrobes. (See March 26th post.)
- Cultivate friends of all ages. Those 10 years older make us feel young; those 10 years younger help us stay young.
- Ditch the red, red lipstick unless it’s part of one’s signature style. (See Andrée Putman post, April 1st.)
- Try a new perfume if you’ve been wearing the same fragrance for more than 20 years. If it’s what defines you and you’re in love with it, just for fun try another from time to time.
And my favorite, repeated over and over: Smile, smile, smile. It makes a woman look approachable, pleasant and at the same time a smile is a mini facelift. Pictured here is France’s immensely charming and always chic minster of finance, Christine Lagarde. (She speaks exquisite English.)