This past Friday was my birthday. I usually keep this news quiet. I don’t like to tell people because I’m not one for people making a fuss over me. But, thanks to Facebook, everyone knows our milestones.
As soon I arose, I was lovingly bombarded by birthday messages. It was great. But it almost meant I couldn’t hide the fact from myself or others that I was getting older.
I broke down and admitted to my colleague my insecurity about my birthday. I explained my slight fear of not being as successful as I thought I should be at this point in my life (I know, I know, crazy first world problems 🙂 and, my fear of, well, losing my femininity. She stopped me right then and there and said, “Hold on there sister, do you know any French women?” “Well, of course, they are gorgeous.” She went on to say: “They don’t think of getting older as losing their beauty at all. My mother-in-law is 68 and believes she is totally sexy!”
Hmmmm. I always knew this about French women. But it only started sink in when my friend told me her story. They don’t fight the aging process. Of course they try to stay as beautiful as possible but they don’t try to stay young-looking. In fact, aging is sexy!
To buttress this argument I did a quick search of other experts on the subject. Most of what I came across were the typical tips on how to age gracefully like French women, or French women’s general opinion on beauty and aging. But the best bit I found was from fashion designer Joseph Altuzarra who is half French, half American. He doesn’t talk about what they eat or wax & wane poetic about French women thinking of themselves as flowers that keep blooming…blah blah blah. Instead, he shares how American women obsess with their flaws and how French women celebrate their assets. It’s about loving their bodies, not hating and hiding them. His words from a recent Vogue interview:
I think the relationship French women have with their bodies and, I think, the way they think about themselves and their sexuality as they age. I think it’s very wise and very specific to French culture. French women tend to be much less focused on their flaws. They’re much better at enhancing what they see as their assets. There’s much less emphasis on correcting everything, which I think is a big part of American culture. It’s a culture of correction, whether by exercise or diet or plastic surgery. I think French women are accepting of their bodies, and they’re more comfortable with their sexuality as they age. They don’t see themselves as having to stop being seductive or sexy because they suddenly turn 55 or 60. They don’t stop feeling like women, and I think that’s really important.
Pretty cool. It’s not necessarily revolutionary but sometimes we have to remember this. I’m certainly going to try.
And since it’s also Mother’s Day, let’s all feel doubly proud of ourselves as beautiful women and amazing mothers!