It may sound contrary to what we think of when we conjure the image of the French woman but they do not place a lot of value on beauty. In fact it is better to be intelligent then to be beautiful which is the way it should be, really. I see moms just randomly telling their daughters they are beautiful, even gorgeous which may be why we have such a hard time with aging. I honestly never did this with my daughter, when she would ask me if she was beautiful I would reply 'I don't know are you'. I made a conscious decision to not feed her praise on being beautiful because it doesn't matter how beautiful you are. It won't pay the bills or make you a better person and I wanted to give my daughter as much power over her life as I could.
It's fluff, 'oh your so beautiful' blah blah blah it has no substance instead I told her if you want to be beautiful you need to be beautiful. You need to believe you are beautiful and live a beautiful life. The other issue I had with telling her how beautiful she is, well it's not necessarily true now I am not saying my daughter isn't beautiful but is she the most beautiful? I think the bigger question is why would I want her to be defined by the concept of 'beauty' after all we know it is fleeting. Beauty doesn't run a fortune 500 company or solve the worlds issues and what happens when they are told by their peers that they aren't beautiful? I'm her mom, I am suppose to think she is beautiful but saying it over and over again won't make it truth, she won't believe me and more importantly she won't believe she is beautiful. Instead of trying to hand her beauty hoping if I say it enough it will be true I thought if I could give her that power that I would also be giving her confidence. I understand that is why those moms are calling them beautiful but I think you have to ask yourself is this really something I want to put so much value on.
The Parisian women doesn't spend a lot of time on her appearance, this is where she gets that effortless style. She won't obsess over her crooked nose or small breasts because she is beautiful the way she is and she doesn't need to be told so. Every has that friend, you know the one that is super thin and always put together but she is constantly fishing for compliments. You meet her for lunch and she goes into 'I know I look horrible, I've gained so much wieght' and you know she has actually lost wieght so we play along and say 'oh my god you look amazing' all while in our head we are thinking 'she's such a bitch'. When I see someone do this I always wonder why she needs that affirmation from other people and maybe it is because her mother told her all of the time, over and over for no appearant reason, 'you're so beautiful'. UGH! Which brings me to this over praising for every single thing they do, you are setting them up for failure because when they grow up and get a job they won't understand why someone isn't always telling them how great they are.
Parisiennes value intelligence, being well read and knowledgable about current events because it doesn't matter how beautiful you are if you can't carry on a conversation. They like to debate to show how smart they are and will even take on a view they don't agree with just to be able to debate. She won't wear a sleevless mini dress with heels in December because it looks ridiculous. Instead she will dress for the weather it goes back to substance, she won't dress like that because she doesn't need to. She doesn't need to rely on her appearance because she doesn't need to be told she is beautiful. Let's face it if you are wearing a mini dress and heels in the winter walking in the snow is done because you are wanting to be told you are beautiful because it definitely doesn't advertise how intelligent you are.
The Parisian woman is beautiful after all she is the ideal for women all over the world with her fresh face, undone hair and minimal style. The more I read, research and comb through images of the street style of Paris I start to realise what that je na sais quoi is about. This is that 'something' that we aspire to have but can't ever seem to get it. So how do we get it, well it isn't found at Saks or the plastic surgeon's office. It can't be bought or found at the bottom of a 400.00 bottle of face cream it comes from her attitude and yes it is a bit concieted and self consumed just not in the way that we typically think of it. You have heard me say 'she doesn't follow fashion, fashion follows her' and truth be told that is not true but we believe her because she believes it. She sees no value in spending a lot of time on her appearance but that isn't exactly true. Yes she does not have her hair perfectly styled and her makeup is minimal. What we see is 'effortless' style but the truth is she understands the need in getting a good haircut that will look good without a lot of styling and spends a lot of time on her skincare so she won't need makeup.
Becuase she doesn't place value on being 'beautiful' she isn't consumed by it. She won't hide the nose she got from her grandmother nor will she obsess about it becuase it is what makes her beautiful. Karl Laggerfeld, a man who has said a lot of inapproriate, politically incorrect comments once said 'beauty is in the flaws'. Look at Lauren Hutton and the gap in her front teeth, it is a flaw and one she could have fixed or changed at anytime but choose not to because that flaw was her signature. It set her apart from the thousands of beautiful women. The Parisian woman does take care of herself from what she eats to her strict skincare routine but it is not about changing the way she looks. Is she really always that confident, probably not but she chooses to believe she is beautiful. She cultivates her beauty by living a beautiful life and taking the time to enjoy the simple pleasures of her everyday life. Is her life really better then ours, no she just chooses to believe it is. Outward beauty fades and while we are running to the department store or the doctors office to try and turn back the clock they are enjoying their life and where they are at this moment.
Instead of telling our daughters how beautiful they are we should be teaching them the art of being a woman. To empower them to be in control of whether they are beautiful or not and to not need to hear they are beautiful to feel beautiful. We should focus on opening their minds to beautiful things like art, music and the theatre to aspire to be independent and self fulfilled. I have told my daughter she looks beautiful but when I do it, it has more meaning, it's not thrown out at every moment but saved for when she is more beautiful then the everyday whether it is for a dance or a night out. It is saved for special moments. The next time your daughter asks if she is beautiful or smart think about it before you tell her and ask yourself do you really want her to need to be told that? Instead answer with a question, 'I don't know are you beautiful' and when she seems confused because she will tell her that beauty comes from within and if you want people to think you are beautiful you need to believe you are. Save praise for when she does something above and beyond otherwise it begins to loose its impact.
What Makes You Beautiful:
The way you see yourself
The way you treat yourself
Having poise and good posture
Being graceful, elegant and sophisticated
Smiling, smiling and laughing who doesn't want to be around someone like that
Being polite and kind
Being confident, believe you are beautiful flaws and all
Living a life that matters
The ability to talk and to say something that is thought provoking not just fluff
How you affect the world around you, the footprint you leave in this world
Be adventurous, try food you don't think you would like and try new experiences no matter how scary it may seem
Be happy, not needing anyone to make you happy
Secrets of the French It Girl
Wear heels with jeans and converse with a dress
Only wear clothes you love and wear them when and where you want to
Find a signature look
Know the rules so you know how to break them
Wear sequined during the day and a white tee with jeans at night
Wear things in ways that you wouldn't typically do
Mix Feminine with Masculine, contradiction is good
Grab a scarf because they can change the way you look in 1 minute
Tie corner to make a Kimono
Tie corners to make a vest
Head scarf ala Grace Kelly
As a blanket to sit in the park under a tree to read a book
Tied into a halter top
Used as a belt
Tie corners to make a bag to hold your flea market finds
Bathing suit cover up
NEVER look too polished, always have something undone otherwise known as effortless style
Dress for you, no one else just you when you feel beautiful you are beautiful