If there's one thing more entertaining than women slavishly trying to act Parisian, it's the ridiculous "You suck, Frenchwomen!" backlash. Cause, you know, those are the only options. [Left: That's a typical Frenchwoman, rubes.]
Demands the New York Post's Maureen Callahan belligerently,
Just who decided French women are better than we are? The French? When did American women buy into this? Who says French women are more stylish, more cultured, have more and better sex, and can smoke and drink and eat whatever they want without suffering bad skin or contracting lung cancer or - worst of all - getting fat?
Her outrage is prompted by the latest entry in what Callahan terms the "American inferiority complex" genre, French Women Don't Sleep Alone, by some Francophile American who schools yanks in "The French Art of Flirtation." This of course comes on the heels of Mireille Giuliano's French Women Don't Get Fat juggernaut and the raft of copycats it inspired. (My personal favorite? The weirdly gushy Entre Nous.) Screw those soigne sylphs! Rails Callahan. Their awesomeness is a myth!
Oh, and not only do French women totally blow, says Callahan, but they all know it! And wish they were like American women! Who are way better groomed! Oh, and guess what? We have way more female CEOs and actual sexual harassment policies! This last salient fact actually comes from Mireille Giuliano herself (who, as is her wont, comments seemingly with no context,"It makes me very sad to see the fat people walking around in New York.")
Confession time: I am pro French Women Don't Get Fat. Twee? Sure. All that scarf-draping and baguette baking? Ludicrous. But! It's as common-sensical a diet book as I've ever seen, and there are far worse bestsellers than one that promotes water drinking, moderation and walking. Don't forget, all this started as an antidote to Atkins, the Great Satan of the Naughties. What's always struck me as funny about the phenom is that the concept — French mystique as diet book — is about as American a construct as has ever been thunk up; what people embraced as the height of continental sophistication was just domestic product, cleverly packaged. The whole French Women thing is a totally American construct! (I mean, obviously, they exist. And do they tend to be slim and chic? A lot of Parisians sure do.) Which is why Mireille Giuliano's business book should be a best-seller: talk about someone who's made the most of both cultures.
Oh, and to Maureen Callahan and her ilk, cool your jets: French women are probably more baffled by our weird girl-crush than triumphant. Says one of my friends, "I think it's really funny. French people don't really know how cool Americans think they are. They know about "la French touch", I even saw this indie Parisian band sing a song called "je suis French et j'ai la touch". But most French people don't know about that weird obsession you guys have for us. I only fully realized it when I moved here. People getting really excited that I'm French. It's kinda weird to be honest. But flattering." Obviously, I got enraged and told her to suck it, like a good American. Then I ate a donut.
French Women Can Suck It! [New York Post]