French Women and Thinness: 'If You Are Fat, You Won't Get That Job'

Illustration for article titled French Women and Thinness: 'If You Are Fat, You Won't Get That Job'

Finally, an article that punctures the infuriating cottage industry that has sprung up around French women telling us Americans that we too can be "naturally thin," if only we had the self-control to stop stuffing our faces with MacDo.


The BBC reports that French women come in all shapes and sizes too, but feel extra pressure to fit in with their country (and the rest of the world's) ideal of the Parisian waif. In fact, according to a plus-sized woman named Isabelle interviewed by the BBC, being fat can even lead to job discrimination:

"It's how it works for women here," Isabelle explains. "If you are fat, you will not get that job. But if you have the silhouette - chic, ultra-slim, elegant - you are more or less made."

Isabelle is an all-too-rare exception to the rule - she is actually quite fat - but, being self-employed, she can get away with it, she says. Isabelle likes being overweight in a society that is so obsessed with thinness and conformity.

Holy merde. And what's more, the French thinness ideal has become a burden that Gallic women have taken on, after all of their gains in French society. According to Sonia Feertchak, editor of L'Encyclo Des Filles:

"Women have come so far in France - we have a political voice, good childcare, access to work - but instead of being more confident we are increasingly obsessed with our weight and shape.

"Coco Chanel freed us from the corset more than 80 years ago - but we have fallen for a mental one instead - a silhouette of supposed perfection that is unattainable and leads to eating disorders and misery," she adds.

So stop listening to today's head of Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld, ladies. There's more to being a woman in soon-to-be 2014 than attaining an impossible standard of thinness. If French women can't do it, perhaps that'll help American women realize that they too don't have to try so hard.

There are some more priceless quotes in the BBC piece (like the list of French euphemisms for being fat. Did you know that enrobee is used to describe a woman "richly-coated in her own body mass"?). But I'll leave you with this WTF statement, from one Marjorie:

Marjorie works near the Paris suburb of Saint Denis where there is a large immigrant population from the Maghreb.

She is inspired by these women with their full, rounded, curvaceous figures and the way they walk tall.

"They are so much more feminine than our Parisian chic," she says, "but the sad truth is that if they want careers in this society they are going to have to get skinny to get ahead."


They probably have to be white too, Marjorie, but that's a story for another day.

Image via Shutterstock



I was in Paris in May of this year, I can honestly say I did not see that ultra skinny chic ladies anywhere. Maybe I just wasn't paying close attention, maybe dressing chic went to shits because it was so damn cold. But at most times I felt like I was dressed better for an " American". Everyone eats carbs and cheese at like 12 am and no shits are giving.

Oh how I do miss Paris.