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  • Writer's pictureCoco

French Women: what makes us so… French?

The first year I lived in the United States, more precisely in the bay area of San Francisco, I was puzzled and tickled by the admiration for French women.

Before my move from France, I was completely unaware of this “woah factor” that is attached to French women. I had traveled to England, spent time in Germany and other countries, but I had never met any foreign women who were curious about the demeanor of French women, even less, wanted to emulate it.

As the years passed, I traveled a lot between the two countries, and I began to grasp what might differentiate European women from American women. Ironically, I also realized that my friends in France looked up to America because “everything American is cool” – movies, music, ripped jeans, chewing gum, social media, motorcycles, Corvettes, and so much more.

I remember being in the baggage claim area of LAX, waiting and observing. All I could hear were loud women’s voices, and I knew that I was not in France. I thought about it. Ever since, I have been in hundreds and hundreds of public places, and I still hear those same loud voices that unfailingly take me back to my LAX episode.

There is no “right” or no “wrong”, but it is a fact: American women are loud.

Power? Emancipation? Confidence? Authority? What makes American women so loud? If I am in America, I believe that it is all the above, and that is good. If I am in France however, I consider it simply rude and obnoxious.

We all have heard the expression, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” In other words, I am not critical of those boisterous voices because, after all, I am not in France – When one lives in a foreign country, one expects the culture, the people, the food, the scenery, the history to be different. Unfortunately, expecting does not always mean accepting for some. Believe me, I have seen enough tourists misbehave, but I know better.

However, the reason why I still notice the boisterous voices is because I was raised in an environment of soft-spoken people (men and women). When we are in public in France, we may have a good time with our party, but we must also make sure that everyone else around has a good time. In other words, we make the effort to be considerate and speak softly for the sake of everybody else.

So, you get it, French women in general are soft spoken. What else do we, French women, have that American women do not have?

Is it about fashion?

French women inherently know what to wear for what occasion. They are not interested in glamor and red carpet looks. They do like the big names, the big brands, but not in excess. In fact, they do not have lots of clothes, lots of shoes, lots of purses. Quality is more important than quantity for them. Quality in clothes, in accessories, in make-up, in food, in lifestyle. Quality everywhere. They are more into style than they are into fashion. They understand color coordination. They understand what will make a jacket or a blouse stand out, and they hardly ever forget the scarf! Clothes, make-up, and jewelry are all measured. Nothing in excess. The way French women are put together must be pleasing to them first. If it is pleasing to them, then they feel good about themselves and they know that ultimately it will be pleasing to other people.

Is it about hairstyle? Generally speaking, French women like bangs, a-frame and bob hairstyles. Highlights have to be subtle. Layers have to be soft. Hairspray has to be light volume hairspray. No super hold. Their hairstyle never appears to be sculpted stiff in place. It moves with their body. Also, the older they get, the shorter their hair is to guarantee a forever young look. They say it always, always does the trick.

Is it about make-up? French women’s make-up is never overdone. They go for a soft, natural look. They buy their first anti-wrinkle cream at age twenty-five and never stop investing into high quality day and night creams to preserve their young skin. They use concealers and foundations very sparingly. Their nails are manicured with subtlety - never too long, never too flashy. Their overall appearance is never contrived, never exaggerated. It is simple, and they truly believe that less is more.

French women never try too hard. They think that if you try too hard, you end up with a superficial look that does not belong to you. They want to feel fabulous. And, to do that, they do not try to pretend. They do not follow the trends. They make their own trends. They create their own style and they follow their own style. The end result is natural beauty.

French women are themselves. They do not want to be anybody else. Their own style is more important than someone else’s style or fashion. You see, French women are not interested in Botox and plastic surgery as much as American women are. They know they cannot win the fight. The beauty magazines may try to convince them otherwise, but they are secure enough. They like who they are at the different stages of their life.

There is so much more to say about French women. It is not a matter of “better or worse than…”. Rather, French women are simply different from American women, just like Japanese women are different, just like Italian women are different. Without a doubt, being away from France made me aware of the differences, pay attention to them and, admittedly, feel a tad more special than I felt before!

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