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7 Stereotypes About French Women - Debunked

How 'bout them macarons, er, macaroons? Are French women skinnier, more fashionable, and harder to befriend than American women?

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1. French Women Don't Get Fat



In her book French Women Don't Get Fat, Mireille Guiliano illustrates how French women who eat in traditional ways are less inclined to become obese. Which, for some French women who stick to their habits, could be true. But in recent years – thanks in part to fast food restaurants, packaged meals, and unhealthy snack choices – obesity in France has been steadily on the rise.

Of course, I have seen many rare creatures with twelve-year-old-skinny bodies in France, but I've also seen these super skinny anomalies in Los Angeles, New York, Hong Kong, and London. With that said, French women come in many different shapes and sizes, just like any other woman in any other country.

2. French Women Are Harder to Befriend Than American Women


True (in some ways), but also False.

French women, for the most part, are more reserved when it comes to sharing every aspect about their lives. We American girls like to chat to whoever will listen. So it is true that it takes some time for French women to open up their hearts to friendship as readily as American women, but when they do you’ve got a friend for life. The short of it: making friends in France is like making friends anywhere-- you’ll click with some people, others you won’t. I can say I’ve been lucky with getting the French women I know to open up. Then again, maybe that’s because I serve American-sized glasses of wine...

3. French Women Drink A Lot of Wine (and Serve it to Their Kids)


To be clear, French women do drink wine, but they don’t drink a lot of it, and they certainly don’t pour American sized glasses. In France, wine is served to compliment the meal, the goal to be tasted. And by taste, I mean taste. A typical portion is in between one and two ounces, which is why one bottle of wine can serve a ten person dinner party, and why varying bottles are served with each course. If you’re the guest, you always wait for the host to pour your wine. As for kids, no, they don’t start drinking at the age of four or six or even twelve. Rarely will you see a child drinking.

4. French Women Don't Shave Their Legs/Armpits

True (well, sort of) and False.

The French women I know don't shave their legs or armpits, only because they prefer to get them waxed. Some girls start young here, going to the esthetician as early as fifteen-years-old. I live in a small town of 13,000 inhabitants, where there are ten instituts de beauté within a two-mile radius — all of which offer épilation. So if somebody has seen the mythical hairy French woman, she was probably in between appointments... or perhaps she was the wife of the even more mythical (and very hairy) Yeti.

5. French Women Sunbathe Topless

In the four years I’ve been living in France, I’ve visited beaches from the Cote-d’Azur to Biarritz to Narbonne. The only women I’ve seen sunbathing topless in France are on the older side — les femmes plus qu’un certain age. Even though young women today are now opting for two piece bikinis, the French do, however, have a laissez-faire attitude when it comes to the body in its natural state of being of undressed. To them, it’s natural, n’importe quoi. On that note, although I haven’t been to one, there are more than a few public nude beaches scattered along the coasts.

6. French Women Always Wear Beautiful/Special Lingerie


Sure, French women have illustrious lingerie labels to choose from, like La Perla or AuBade, but that doesn’t mean they wear them everyday, or that they are affordable. French women, like American women, are practical in their choices, as in they will choose a sports bra over a lacey underwire when going to the gym. So do French women always match their bras and panties? Are they immune to granny panties? Well, I’ve been to the gym. And the answer to these questions is quite simple: no. Hey, some women don't even wear underwear.

7. French Women Never Make Fashion Faux-Pas

True for some, False for others.

Paris may be the quintessential city when it comes to defining fashion and the fashionable, but Paris is only one city in France, and it certainly doesn’t define the French. The stereotype that all French women dress like super models is just plain crazy. I live in southwestern France, and while I’ve seen perfectly put together French women who know how to tie their scarves just right, I’ve also been witness to some vrai fashion disasters. Mostly, though, people dress the same way here as they do back in the States-- a lot of jeans, and a lot of black. Plus, marks like The Gap, Abercrombie, and Tommy Hilfiger have become de rigeur-- not for Parisians necessarily, but for the rest of France.

It used to be true a French woman wouldn’t dare step out of the house in gym shoes and yoga pants to run errands. But not anymore.

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