Jayne Dawson: Stop that now - I need to believe in French perfection

French president Francois Hollande (left) and his companion Valerie Trierweiler.
French president Francois Hollande (left) and his companion Valerie Trierweiler.
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Well ooh la la, turns out our female counter-parts across the Channel are not perfect after all.

In the wake of the Valerie Trierweiler drama, the shock news this week is that French women are human and don’t have all the answers. Indeed, they have been queuing up to say so.

I’m not completely happy with this news. In fact I find it disappointing because, increasingly, I look to all things European for my inspiration.

I’m done with Americans with their coffee chains and giant, sickly cupcakes and their obsession with busty blondes.

I want to be a French woman, all style and superiority. Except, it turns out, they are not.

Yet in recent times we have been told so many fabulous things about them. Here are my favourites - they may be broken dreams, their demolition may even take the pressure off the rest of us, but I’m cherishing them anyway:

French women treat their children like dirt - and that’s a good thing.

This one appealed to me greatly. It chimes with my opinion that we have become too child-centred. French women were said to have the power to quell a troublesome child with The Look. They merely glanced up from the interesting, non-child centred conversation they were having with a friend and fixed their eyes upon their offspring, and that was enough. I had hoped to acquire this superpower myself.

French women don’t count calories - and yet they never put on an ounce.

It was important for us to believe that someone somewhere was eating and not gaining weight, even if we couldn’t manage it ourselves. We trusted those people who told us there were women who ate three good meals a day and those meals included one perfect square of amazingly good chocolate and a reasonable amount of red wine, and that they had only disdain for women who devoured calorie-counted ready meals heated up in the microwave.

French women wear matching underwear - every single day.

This was a favourite of mine. The French woman’s allure has no off day, we were told. It is always primed, ready and set to stun. That’s because a French woman always feel sexy no matter what. Her sex appeal is in her DNA - and also in her matching lacy sets. This was aspirational stuff for those of us who have that drawer full of pants that don’t match anything because they are pink and purple with flowers on, and they were bought because they were cheap.

French women are sexy - whatever their age.

The thought that somewhere there were older women who were not invisible kept many a British woman more accepting of her harsh lot in the UK. We liked to believe the story that the appeal of a proper French women didn’t reside in her young, plump skin; that she did not have to look like a Hollywood bimbette, a Jessica Rabbit come to life. A French woman’s appeal was in her confidence, her knowingness, her attitude and her experience.

French women think nothing of their husband’s affairs - it leaves them more time to moisturise their decollete.

Between the hours of 5pm and 7pm, everyone is allowed a little time to do as they please, was the story. It has been rather blown apart by the reaction of presidential consort Valerie Trierweiler who had herself admitted to hospital on hearing the news that her man had been unfaithful to her. It does shine a good light on the French way of life though - that they get to finish work at 5pm.

I loved the days when it was possible to believe all these things, before French women went and ruined the illusion by admitting they struggle like their sisters across the channel, that calories have an effect on them and that their underwear is not always perfect. I find it hard to accept, so hard that I am minded to ignore the truth. French women, they are perfect, non?

Date: 20th September 2017.
Picture James Hardisty.
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