France is the country where almost every woman in her fifties looks beautiful and elegant. These women happily wear skirts that rise above their knees, pay no attention to their age, and just look — and more importantly, feel — great, even if their appearance, by conventional standards, is far from what it once was. They’re not afraid of aging, and they feel comfortable with their wrinkles.
Here are the ten lessons from Rebeca Plantier’s book Lessons From France: Eating, Fitness, Family. There’s definitely something to think about here. Take a look.
1. An active lifestyle means staying active until old age
Being active in your leisure time is an integral part of French national culture, and, in practice, they don’t renounce it with age. The French go hiking, climb mountains, swim in kayaks, play tennis, jog in the park, go skiing and so on. That’s their lifestyle; it’s not simply a commitment to sport. Even on vacation the French prefer going somewhere where they can have an ’active rest’, and not just lie in the sun. However, French women aren’t crazy. They don’t overdo it when it comes to sports: too much is harmful to women’s well-being, Rebeca says.
2. A sense of humor is a powerful antioxidant
The country’s well-known capacity for sarcasm helps French ladies avoid seeing their age and aging as drama. No other language has so many sayings and jokes about ’life begins at 40′ and the second wind of passion coming at the age of 50.
3. Good food as religion
Everybody knows that French are obsessed with food, but the point is that they prefer to eat in small amounts, and only beautiful and exquisite food. French women don’t like big portions at all. As they get older, and when financial opportunities allow it, French ladies’ obsession with eating well only gets stronger: they eat at restaurants and cafes, enjoying miniature portions, wine and a good company more than ever before. All of that helps to keep a rather good shape; there is rarely such a big difference in their weight at this age compared to their 20s and 40s, sighs Rebeca.
4. French women permit themselves more with age, not less
It feels like French girls absorb healthy sense of their own worth with the mother’s milk, writes Rebeca. With age, when their children grow up and demand less attention, French women feel free to pay more attention to themselves. They spend more money on their own pleasures, can to take afford trips without their families, and buy more expensive clothes. A French woman at the age of 40 won’t be overwhelmed with remorse if she buys a new pair of good shoes instead of an Xbox for her teenage son. And even more, she would think it was the only right decision: if you want an Xbox, work. Usually, it’s not French grandmothers who take care of their grandchildren instead of the parents: nobody sees grannies as free babysitters there.
5. As they grow older, French women buy fewer clothes, but what they do buy is more expensive
And better quality. Even middle-income women buy expensive and comfortable things: cashmere, silk, good shoes and at least one expensive handbag. All those things make up part of the highly elegant style of older women.
6. Their social life becomes even more active and interesting with age
Unlike women in some other countries, who often prefer to stay at home in front of the TV, French ladies — especially those in big cities — become even more active than in they were in their youth. Children grow up and no longer need permanent attention, family life is stable and comfortable…so it’s time to go out, go to parties, cafes, the cinema, the Biennale, and so on. An active social life has its requirements: a good hairdo and an impressive style, well-groomed hands, beautiful clothes to go out and, as a total must-have, a comfortable pair of high-heeled shoes.
7. Age isn’t a disease, it doesn’t need any treatment
French women feel comfortable with their age and their wrinkles. Sporting an all to obvious face-lift is a cause for a disdainful smile rather than envy. Unlike other women who are still obsessed with the idea of looking young at the age of 80, French ladies believe that at a certain age the absence of wrinkles is a sign of mental health problems, and it’s surely not a cause for envy. In France, real beauty treatments are far more developed and popular than plastic surgery and Botox.
8. You can wear what you want at any age if it suits you
French women feel free to wear skirts that go above their knees and skin-tight leggings right into old age. In France, you are never ’too old’ to do something; a mother and her daughter can wear the same brand clothes. It’s clear that taste and financial possibilities can change with age, of course, and older women often prefer a more expensive, classic style. In spite of this, you won’t find in any other country in the world where so many 40 to 60-year-old women wear small dresses and skin-tight jeans.
9. There are no age limits on either sexuality or sexual life
On the contrary, if you live in France, you know that your second youth comes after 40: you’ve already achieved some success in life, learned something, and it’s time you enjoy your still great physical characteristics along with that life experience. This is good and bad at the same time, Rebeca writes. It’s good, because it positively influences a woman’s sense of self; it’s bad, because this age can produce a lot more divorces.
10. You can afford everything with age, but in moderation
This includes wine, late meals and even cigarettes. Rebeca describes her French friend at the age of 52 who smokes just one cigarette a day after breakfast. She has been smoking for many years, but thinks that the pleasure from a cup of coffee and a cigarette is better than the stress induced by forcing oneself to never smoke at all.
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