French Beauty Ideals Are Pretty PerfectSonya Benham
A lot has been written about French beauty ideals but I’ll confess that I’ve never really gave it much regard. I would read the headlines and would just assume the article would blather on about how we eat too much, we have no style, we are uncouth, blah, blah, blah… I didn’t need those haughty French telling me what I already know.
So, I happened across yet another article on French beauty the other day and this time I actually read it. To my surprise, I really admire the way they view beauty in France. Did I mention that I’m half French? No? Ok, well, I am. My ancestors came from France to Canada before making their way down to Maine. So, maybe these ideals are in my blood.
The culture in France is less obsessed with perfection and youth than we are here in the States. In fact, individuality is celebrated and age only makes a woman more interesting. They are masters of moderation: they don’t diet because they don’t overindulge, they wear enough makeup to accentuate their features but don’t overdo it, and they take care of their skin without over thinking and examining every little flaw. Instead of quick fixes, they take a more measured approach. Beauty is taught, along with style, by mothers to daughters with the emphasis on maintenance, not perfection.
When Allison Kerr interviewed two French makeup artists, Laura Mercier and Terry de Gunzburg for her blog, Style Matters, she was taken with their appreciation of imperpection. Both prefer unconventional beauties like Paloma Picasso and Jackie Kennedy. Gunzburg is quoted, “I’ve always said: J’aime les defaults dans les grands oeuvres. [I like the flaws in the masterpieces.]”
I’m in whole-hearted agreement with these notions of beauty. I’ve always been drawn to interesting faces. Flaws provide character, as does aging and I prefer wrinkles to the over-altered face of a woman who’s had a lot of work done. I like the idea of taking the slow and steady route to beauty as opposed to neglecting myself and then trying to “fix” it with a miracle product.
With such a healthy and balanced view, it’s no wonder why so much has been said about French beauty habits and standards. Turns out I should have paid attention a long time ago.