French women don’t have it figured out

That’s it, c’est officiel: we’re sick of French women.


We don’t care what they wear, say, do, cook or whether they’re better lovers, philosophers, parents and everything in between.

What a laughable idea! According to writer James Wolcott, however, it’s time we gave up on our French fairy tale.

No more ‘French women’ books

In the November 2013 issue of Vogue Australia, Wolcott declared that the French women franchise (as he called it) was done and dusted.

He references the usual literary cohort: Jennifer L Scott, Helena Frith Powell, Pamela Druckerman and good friend of My French Life™, Harriet Welty Rochefort. Et bien sûr, the lovely Mireille Guiliano.

In an interview with My French Life™, Harriet Welty Rochefort proved there’s much more substance to books like hers than Wolcott would have you believe.

“In a country where the nightly news makes you want to shoot yourself and people on the Metro look so glum, I wanted to explore the disconnect between the happiness the French have in their personal lives and the negative view they have of public life,” she told us.

These writers are pragmatic, and like the rest of us, are searching for something more.

A French woman thinks for herself

Wolcott then gets to the point: there’s a new book on the scene, but this one is different.

Written by Sophie Fontanel, ‘The Art of Sleeping Alone‘ chronicles her experience of being celibate for 12 years. Oh but don’t worry – it’s no better than the others.

“It’s a huge job to be perfect. Like a full time job.” – Garance Doré

“Leave it to a Frenchwoman to convert even giving up sex into an elegant gesture that reeks of worldliness and send up a smoky wreath,” says Wolcott.

Now, I do hate to play this card, James, but perhaps as a non-French non-woman, us French-appreciating actual women will decide for ourselves what advice we take, and what advice we leave.

We all know that even French women get it wrong. They’re only human after all. But that doesn’t mean we don’t acknowledge that as a whole, they’ve got something going for them.

French women are in touch with reality

Case in point: Garance Doré, one of the most loveable French fashion bloggers to grace the earth. If you’ve ever struggled to keep up with a beauty regimen, I promise her recent blog post will make you feel better.

“If my goal in life were to be perfect, I’d be in deep s%#t,” she begins. I’m already won over: a French women, not parfait?

“We all know that even French women get it wrong. They’re only human after all.”

“It’s a huge job to be perfect. Like a full time job. I mean, let’s just take beauty products for example: have you ever counted the number of hours it takes each week to make yourself bottom-line presentable?”

“Bottom line : I get this feeling that I’m constantly a ‘Work in Progress’.”

In an “idle moment” she jotted down the things she always forgets to do, without fail. From not wearing mascara to never getting her hair cut, it really is “too hard to be a woman.”

Garance is a gust of fresh air in a world that believes French women are the be-all and end-all of style and perfection. Breathe a sigh of relief: none of us – not even the French – are perfect!

French women don't have it figured out - Garance Doré

Why are we so obsessed with French women? Should we be allowed to indulge in this fantasy?

Image credits:
1. Parisiennes, via Pinterest.
2. Dressing like a French woman, via Pinterest.

About the Contributor

Hannah Duke

“I’m a Melbourne-based journalist, editor, photographer, and blogger dreaming of la vie européenne. I love all things French except for the pigeons: film, food, literature, fashion, and I indulge in this passion as often as possible! Find me on Twitter, or Google+.”

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  1. Esme Wakefield Nov 14, 2013 at 8:56 AM - Reply

    Great original article, Hannah!
    It’s great to hear about the daily habits of French women. D’accord, they may not be completely ‘on top of’ their beauty regime all of the time, but I maintain they have an innate ability to put together the ‘out of bed’ look, whether its taken hours or minutes!

  2. Hannah Duke Nov 15, 2013 at 2:45 PM - Reply

    Thanks Esme! It’s so true… they have such an innate sense of style. It’s still good to know that superhumans can’t keep up all the time 😉

  3. Cecile Delarue Nov 19, 2013 at 8:28 AM - Reply

    Loved your post! That’s so true! As a French woman living in the USA, I’m amazed at how French women are seen as “perfect”. That’s why I named my cooking blog Frenchandparfait ! Of course we’re not perfect, but I love sharing my culture and our way to live. Actually, I think French women are not that obsessed with perfection… That’s what makes us a little more interesting.. We give up a litlle bit on “how to be perfect” by trying just “how to be yourself”…. See my blog, !

  4. Alex Mealey Nov 27, 2013 at 11:50 AM - Reply

    Permission to be imperfect! Oui! 🙂

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