French Women DO Get Fat

Church Garden

Secret Gardens of Cahors, France

There are so many things that I like about France. I love the baguettes that we get at the bakery, and sometimes the grocery store. There are few things better than to eat than a fresh baguette with good butter. I love taking walks in France. It can be through a city or a town, we can have stores or no stores, Bean and I enjoy our walks. I really like trying to speak French. I am often getting my articles mixed up because everything is male or female. I call male things female and female things male all of the time. I keep on talking anyway.

As you know, there are some things I don’t like. It is the image of France that is sold to the world. The more I talk to French people about it, they often tell me it is marketing. Here is one that you may have heard of:

French Women Don’t Get Fat– Did you read this book when it was popular years ago? If you didn’t, you may have heard of it or of the ‘French paradox’ that says the French can eat whatever they want and stay the same size. I really liked the book when it came out because it presented a simple way to stay slim. I also I liked the cover of the book and the size, the pictures, and the way it felt in my hands. I remember buying it and giving a few copies to other people. It was a marvelous concept in my mind.

However, time changes you. I still love France, but the honeymoon is over. I can see her with all of the faults that she has (see I can get the articles right if I do it in English). Now, I am wondering why in the world did anyone get the idea that French people don’t get fat. I think they spent too much time in Paris. It is true that Parisiens tend to be thinner and more fashionable than many of their countrymen, but it is certainly an over generalization. French people in general do not weigh as much as Americans as a whole, but the country is much smaller than America. As of yet, there are no TV shows like My 600 Pound Life or My Big Fat Fabulous Life. But there are big people. Lots of them.

Once you get out of Paris and the surrounding areas, large people are everywhere. OK, they are in Paris too. I passed a store in the St. Germain area that was a big man’s store. It was the first big and tall male mannequin that I have ever seen in France. My friend and I were in another area of town and she showed me the large size female mannequins. I should have taken pictures because seeing is believing. It was my first time to see large sizes acknowledge in such a public way.

I have often been in the company of many French women. As I look at them all around the table together, I like to notice the diversity of the group. Often, in a group of six or seven French women, there may be only one that fits the image that is marketed of the ideal French woman. I find it comforting. Why? Because all of my friends who may be hesitant to come to France because they think it is full of beautiful people can relax, they can come as they are.

People are people wherever you are. People in France do get fat. Some say it is because of the McDonaldization of the world. Some say it is because they eat too much bread. Whatever it is, even though obesity is not an epidemic here as it is in the United State, it is a problem. What I like about France is that they do something about it. For every food or drink ad, candy, chocolate or bread, there is an announcement at the bottom that basically says Eat/Move ( . If we had the same announcements in the United States do you think it would be effective?


6 Comments on “French Women DO Get Fat

  1. Interesting post today. I really enjoyed this. I’m not sure why we as ladies think that women from another country are better or more perfect or thinner than we are… I also can think of another blogger/writer that has touted the “french lifestyle” as a way to improve ourselves, as if we need improving. What’s wrong with being our authentic selves? I guess selling this kind of self-improvement has probably made those authors lots of money. Don’t know how effective the Eat/Move suggestions would be here in America, but it would be a good reminder anyway.
    Will you be touching on anymore aspects of the “french lifestyle”?

    • Linda, I think we like to think that the grass is greener. That is what I keep telling myself is the cause. I do plan to write some more on what I see versus what we are told about the French. Stay tuned!

  2. Candace you just reminded me a woman I used to work with, she met her husband in Paris when she was vacationing. They fell in love with eachother for some strange reasons .She was from Spain and can not speak a word of English .He is a Franch man also couldn’t speak English at all, but somehow…. These two got together and so much in love ❤ of cause… eventually She learned Franch over the years. She told me her mother in-law would not let her eat too much, because she didn’t want her to get fat, so she had to control her portions of food. It was horrible to her, because she loves to eat. ? she remembered all those years that she had to keep up with her look and body for her mother in-law . I see the women in France are under some kind of pressure thinking they must have to look like the models and that is so wrong ? Have a nice one !

    • You are right Sharon that some people feel the need to keep up an image. Then there are those who realize it is just not possible or even worth it and just accept themselves as they are. I am glad your co-worker was finally able to enjoy her food!

  3. Also on snack and cereal packaging (and on the radio ads!) in France there are reminders not to snack between meals!

    Very interesting and also what I observe in France.
    Do you know the blog Daily Connoisseur/Madame Chic btw? Although mainly about the 10-item wardrobe it is also about French poise, or should I say, bourgeois Parisian poise lol! 😉 Interesting, though. It does, however, come from the almost blindly pro-French view.

    Hope you continue to enjoy your travels!

    • Thank YOU! You hit the nail on the head. Madame Chic is about bourgeois Parisian poise. While I like some of what she says, I know she sells so much because she is selling that same widely held image of “The French Woman”. To me, it is obvious that she didn’t interact with a variety of French people. But hey, she was young and impressionable when she met that lady!

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