Saturday, July 17, 2010

Remember Falsies?

"... lust is too fiery to be left to the pharmacist."

--Camille Paglia

What's wrong with this picture?

faux a gauche

naturelle en bas

et pauvre lindsay! hemorrhoidal lips! and prison to boot!

Are French women just cooler than we are?

That's the real question behind this front page piece that appeared in the International NY Times on Bastille Day, causing quite a ruckus by contending that, well, actually.. OUI. They are. They age better than we do, have better taste, and generally live better and LOOK better as they age than American women do. (And zay phoque a lot too!) Next question should be Pourquoi? ... Non?

Sadly ... Non... zees ees not zee case. Instead we have:

WHOA! a defensive firestorm of reaction in the comments section of this little article, engendered primarily by American women who do NOT want to be told they look frumpy or that they're lazy or lack style, taste, or self respect. But they're wrong, of course. French, and in general, European women as they age, meaning over the age of 35, have it all over us. I noticed this living in France years ago. The "that's just Paris" argument doesn't hold water either. In the little fishing village in Bretagne in which I lived, I almost never saw a women of any age looking frumpy when they sashayed downtown (a few shops and the weekly petit marche) for a baguette or a piece of fish for dinner, or to walk the kiddies in the stroller. I mean, this was winter too, as dead as a doornail, no "audience" so to speak, and these seventy year old gals and mums alike hiked down the hill in low heels, clean as a whistle, and natty little wool suits and of course the requisite scarf, smiling as they hustled along en faisant ses cours. You just knew it would have been simply beneath them to do less. Ordinary women.

I was a woman d'un certain age (over 50,though, admittedly, I'm not really sure) when I lived there and got a fare share of eyeballs from the guys of every age. As recently as 06 an extremely handsome man came up behind me in the Louvre, made a penetrating remark about a painting i was entranced with, clearly intending to start a conversation and then some (I was with someone else at the time). ooooo....It was a surprising thrill to think... well you know... someone thought I still had somesing worth flirting at! (Granted I had just had my hair cut and balayaged and was feeling pretty spiffy.) They admire older women over there. It is a fact. Maybe it relates to their respect for fine aged wine or cheese (an unfortunate comparison, forgive me.)

Why, I see this even here in suburban Montreal, this very morning. An older woman, her seventies maybe, passes by in a suit (it's Saturday!) on her way to the store. Women in sidewalk cafes, nonchalant, having coffee, dressed, not extravagantly, but dressed in something other than jeans and a t shirt. Even that is done with style, the actual je ne sais quoi people are always on about. Women joggers sporting foulardes! No lumpy sweatsuits ever, anywhere, on the fellas either. (I've seen more handsome men over 40 in three weeks here than in all the years I live in Maine.) Bicycles everywhere. Everyone is just MOVING and enjoying life. These people aren't rich! They're just... smart? European minded?

I've also noticed I rarely see the blue TV screen light in any living room windows at night. What are they doing then? said the baffled American. Reading a book? Talking? Socializing? F*@king? (There's no shortage of enticing lubricants and other sexual accoutrements under the master bed I'm sleeping in here, that's for sure. The owner is 64!) Dancing? (Lots of hot Tango lesson places and Tai Chi I noticed in the parks.) What? Like the French, they are probably having lots more sex beyond the age of 50 than Americans are. And why is that? Check this Washington Post article, a snippet which follows and I must say I heartily approve.

"This post-menopausal sexiness is palpable here [in France]. In the lingerie section of an upscale department store, I recently watched a gray-haired man earnestly inspecting the black lace bra and panties that his similarly aged companion had just picked out. "That's just what's needed," he clucked, handing his credit card to the clerk."

My kinda guy!

[I now recall that when a 60 year old american friend read my novel, her one criticism was that it had too much sex in it. There isn't one overt sex scene, just one implied and a bit of flirtation. As a lusty francophile myself I was taken aback by her obvious distaste for the idea of sex over 60.]

[And speaking of dumpy sweatsuits, have you seen the new Hot in Cleveland with Betty White and Valerie Bertinelli? Pretty good comedy for TV. I just love Betty White's humor.]

When I lived there, wherever I went in France, one stunning thought continued to overwhelm me: "It's better here. Life is better here for the vast majority of the people." A life de qualite. Of course there are exceptions, but by and large, I'm right.

But the pseudo feminist liberal feminazis who comment in the NY Times would have you believe otherwise. Would have you see this lesson they refuse to learn as another example of SEXISM? Please. The one commenter from Maine who bragged about her gray haired pals and self acceptance? Well, you don't see me livin there any more, do ya? I got tired of looking at women with wild wiry grey hair, Haight Ashbury missedtheboats, hiding their avoirdupois and (oddly almost Puritanical yet) lazy lifestyle beneath layers of overpriced, floorlength sacks accessorized with birkenstocks- with- socks (HELP!) and an LL Bean canvas bag. It really got to me. There was simply never anything different, stylish, shameless. The sixties were a failure, or we failed the sixties, so let's at least dress like it and stop livin in denial. Spicing things up is the least we can do.

If you're not one of the gals in denial about it, (clearly you'd be in the minority here), start with this little adjunct to today's article, Ten Ways to Age like French Women. Part of the reason American women (see post the other day about bras) look so bad is their obsession with what we used to call the Falsies approach, an old story here in America: plastic surgery or pneumatic enhancement rather than genuine, natural self care, read: time, and gentle discipline as an answer to aging. (See photo above.) The website Schizo America is a scream, and an excellent news site as well, left of center, clearly, and pretty much sez it all on the subject of why American women seem intent on making themselves losers in the "war against aging". Of course, being American, any struggle has to carry the moniker of "war" of some kind.

You know, now that I think about it, my own mother was a pretty stylish broad. Everyone said so. A golfer, mother of four. Never got fat, walked miles in high heels every day til she was oh seventy plus, looked just as stylish in sneaks. Class. She had class. Her eldest daughter? Well... maybe it's not too late. As a prodigy of the late sixties feminist- left- wing- add- on movement I rebelled against her fashionableness for years. ["But in the French version, women weren't expected to forgo high heels and chivalry in exchange for equality". from the WAPO article] She never went to bed without cleaning her face, taking a few for herself. Always good, natural looking hair. A little makeup. She worked all her life. She always hoped I'd come around to the Make the Most of What God Gave You thing. A question of values. Blatant falsehood (falsies and the like) was considered "cheap". Now she's dead, but not forgotten (and sorely missed, sorely.) I can only hope some of her class rubbed off and is hiding in my genes, waiting to emerge. So Mom, you were right, and this Bud's for you... [that's a little joke entre nous].

Here's a woman (who wisely wrote a few years ago that Aging French and American women are not in the same life game) who researches trends regarding women, etc., and is pretty interesting. She was one of the few commenters on the Times who agreed that not only did the French have it all over us, but had been onto this for some time. She has a website about that and other cultural issues regarding women, sensuality, art, etc. (Her comments on Karl Lagerfield's misogyny are interesting, A POV I happen to agree with entirely. He's just weird and nasty. Although she is quick to point out that Coco herself was no feminist.) Spend some time on this website and you'll really get a more global perspective on American gals vs. the rest of the planet. Anne, as she is called, is also a consultant.

Here's another commenter who, like me, thinks American women are confused about what it is to be a woman, to be feminine, not a sex kitten, but feminine, and more along my line of thought on this:

"Lots of angry asexual American women bashing the author of the article in these comments. This reminds me of a NYT article published a few weeks ago: "No sex please we are middle class"... The masculinity obsessed, tasteless women we meet evryday in the streets of NYC can't be strongly react to the idea of French women being more classy and having more "joie de vivre" than the suffragettes who forgot the mening of "feminity" in their power grabing obsessed culture. French women are beautiful because they are women and proud to be. They are not looking to become the androgynes, gym obsessed creatures haunting the alleys of Central Park and spending big chunks of their revenue in never ending therapy..."

well, huzzah, huzzah, guy. And who'd a thunk I'd ever be in sync with Camille Paglia, who wrote the article to which the above commenter refers. Wanna better understand the culture you're living in guys and dolls? Why it ain't workin so good for ya? This one by Camille is a must read. I gotta say, she nails it to a very great degree ... the origins of "the sexual malaise sweeping the country." I particularly like the way she nails the guys for lowering women's libido by persistently dressing like they were teenagers or kids. Nothing sexually alluring there at all. I mean, what self respecting woman (aye, there's the rub!) wants to get in bed with someone whose appearance reminds you of your son? Well, ok. A weirdo. But THAT one really got my attention.

To summarize, let's let Anne (of Carversville --Pennsylvania? Couldn't be! Could it? I must write to her and find out) argue her case that French women live better because they have more self respect. (See, it's never at bottom about anything you can BUY, i.e. , nothing to do with money.) And why might that be? The piece tells you what you need to know. It's really rather inspiring, and something I'm keeping on my desktop to read when life on this side of the pond gets me down. Her website is simply one of the most interesting sites for women I've found anywhere. Keep it handy, ladies. And you guys too. Lots to learn here.

Can I put in a word for the Kushi Institute Store here? I bought their Rejuva Earth and Sea Clay Beauty Mask Kit for about ten bucks online (they delivered it the next day, along with all the other stuff I ordered that was very very economically priced and shipped with a minimum of reusable packaging. I dreagged it out last night, feeling like my face had layers of whatever clinging to it that just had to go.

Boy, does it work! I was gonna spring for a facial (100 $ versus, oh, fifty cent the mask cost me) but now don't have to. This mask, all natural, is a powder you mix yourself (saving $ on all that water you usually pay for in cosmetic products, and eliminating the need for fragrance to mask the smell of preservatives needed when water is used.) Then you smear it on clean (lightly washed, no soap EVER) skin, let dry some for 7 minutes, sponge off with the one they give you and cool water, and WAALAA! WOW. My face looked like a bebe's derriere. So, finally a ten dollar, all natural product that really works to really clean and refresh your skin. I followed up with cool water rinse, let dry and rest a bit, with a little Vichy moisturizer and looked five years younger this a.m. Happy girl. They say you can use it 2 or 3 times a week if needed. I shall! Oh how very Franch of me!

Anyone interested in Housesitting should check out this site, along with and others. But The Caretaker Gazette is generally considered the best by veteran housesitters and has an excellent reputation.

Finally, there's an article in the July issue of Harper's Magazine about the Food Bubble that everyone should check out. It explains why the cost of food has risen over 80% since the early 2000s and how the powers that be are intent on commodifying long bets and keeping the price of wheat and other commodites needed to live inflated so they can continue on the derivative gravy train until everyone but the very wealthy are starving to death. Tell me, WHEN is Congress gonna do it's job and outlaw derivative speculation and take food out of the casino markets? This is the single most unconscionable Wall Street shenanigan to date. And if you think the recent "reforms' will make an iota of difference. I got a mutual fund Ponzi invented to sell ya.

Wanna know how we can have a planetary economic system that works for everyone? Check out this guy. It's a piece of the new kind of economic paradigm I've been ranting about for years. And there it is, ready to go.

plus tard.. mes amies



  2. Tee!! didi you get the light? did you put it up? and the book I sent?? quoi???

  3. Hey Miss Kitty,.. I reread your blogg today.The one you wrote on Sat.7/17-"are french woman cooler".I thought it was so interesting, and I enjoyed it so much,that I had to read it again!!!It was a lot to digest in one reading. In fact, most of your bloggs are.You give your readers a lot to chew on.This is "A GOOD THING"!!!You are so insightful,and have such a refreshingly,keen perspective that it's a shame not to share it with more people!I think your voice would speak to many,both here and across the pond!Now I know this is a not a new idea for you, and yes a book of collected journals is a great idea,but,I also believe, that you'd do well submitting articles to both National and International publications.(I had to put a period in somewhere!)Or even have your own column somewhere!Endless possibilities!!! Gotta Scoot...