At 16, I had the privilege of spending the summer in the South of France as an exchange student where I fell hopelessly in love with pebble beaches, pain au chocolate and French women. I would watch these women, running to catch a bus or buying groceries at the Carrefour, admiring the graceful way they infused elegance into everyday living. I marveled at how they made tardiness and cheese shopping appear enviably sexy. Except unlike every other North American who has ever spent any amount of time in France, I didn't write a book about it. Luckily, our non-European bookshelves are increasingly lined with titles like French Women Don't Get Fat, All You Need To Be Impossibly French and Lessons From Madam Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris, all promising to turn you into an alluring Francophile with their literary pixie dust. Even luckier for you, I have rounded up the top ten tenets of this Wannabe French fare, streamlining their educational value, so that you have more time to drink water and make daily trips to your neighbourhood boulangerie, fromagerie, charcuterie, and art gallery, which, I note, should always be done wearing heels. These retailers are actually prohibited from selling you their goods if you are not in the right shoes so leave those Uggs at home if you don't want to go hungry.
1.Have good genes. The number one secret to embodying a French woman's beauty is to be tall and thin. But not too tall and too thin. Somewhere between a size 4 and a size 6 will do. If you are anything more than this than don't leave the house under any circumstances. At least you get to wear comfortable footwear.
2.Wear expensive clothes that suit your perfect size 4 to 6 body type. Designer labels are unnecessary. Style has nothing to do with brand names and everything to do with your charming personality, which should be informed by your ability to afford expensive, brand name clothes and look really good in them.
3.Eat three perfectly balanced meals a day sitting down. Don't eat too much -- like finishing everything on your plate -- but it's also important that you don't eat too little because no one likes the girl who only has the side salad. Just eat enough so that you can be said to be participating in the act of eating but are left hungry enough to be painfully aware that you are suffering for the sake of fashion and some illusive standard of beauty.
4.Do not snack between meals. Only rapists and serial killers snack between meals. Renovate your house to place the kitchen in an out of the way place down a dark and scary hallway lest you be tempted to eat a cracker after dinner like some member of the Taliban.
5.Get a manicure and pedicure regularly. Were you seriously going to leave the house without your nails painted!? What is wrong with you? Get thee to a nail sweatshop immediately! The only acceptable colors are red and a blush pink that looks like you didn't pay to have your nails done.
6.Wear sexy underthings. Women in France are arrested for wearing mismatched bras and underwear. And don't even think about changing into comfortable clothes when you get home. You should look equally presentable around the house as you do out in the world, whether you are going to sleep or cooking tomato sauce.
7. Avoid the gym. French women don't sweat. They're above it. Get exercise the conventional way by shopping for matching lingerie.
8.Worship Coco Chanel. Don't just like this timeless Nazi sympathizer; pray to her. Quote her as much as you can. Have her words stitched on a fancy pillow to appear casually tossed on your settee: "A woman who doesn't wear perfume has no future."
9. Lather yourself in creams. If your bathroom doesn't look like an overstocked pharmacy then you are not doing it right. Creams should never multitask but should be specific to time and body part. NEVER use a day cream at night. That's exactly how Gizmo turned into a gremlin. Also, the more ingredients the better. Preferably ones that are carcinogenic so you don't have to worry about wrinkles later in life.
10. Cultivate an air of mystery. Be douchey but ambiguously douchey. Make questionable comments that leave people unsure if you're insulting them so they talk about you behind your back.
I hope this condensed list will save you the time of pouring over the French beauty secrets as gathered by North American spies filling up your bookstore. I have spent hours reading these women's words, which always leave me feeling inadequate and ugly. I don't want to size up my reflection anymore when I catch a glimpse of myself in a window, wishing I was prettier, that my eyes were just a little bit bluer, my hair a little more playful, my skin a little more dewy , my clothes a little more tailored, my look a little more polished. I am tired of feeling deficient. I'm tired of the checklists that are certain to make me lovelier and thus more loveable. I am not reading these things anymore. I am not subscribing to this generalized insipidness anymore. After all, to quote Coco Chanel: "Elegance is refusal."