French Women Struggle With Their Weight Too — and Their Beauty Standards May Be More Stringent Than Ours

You know the saying "French women don't get fat"? Well, the BBC reports that some of said French women are struggling to fit the (very petite) mold in a society that elevates slim and chic as the necessary ideal. Apparently, every French woman wants to lose 2 kg (4.4 lbs), and there's an endless array of slimming products to choose from in the Paris shops. This all sort of shatters the idea of the sophisticated Parisian staying slim on a diet of cigarettes, red wine, and gâteaux.

"It's simple. Chic plus slim equals success," Isabelle, a 50-year-old director of a Paris art gallery, told the BBC in French. "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."

"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."

Many of us on this side of the pond are taught to believe that French women sustain their slim figures with regular, small meals consisting of lots of fresh produce. But in reality, many women who didn't win the genetic lottery actually have to go to drastic measures to stay so svelte. Turns out, they're more like American women than you might think.

"There is simply no mystery about it. Of course French women grow fat," Sonia Feertchak, editor-in-chief of L'Encyclo des filles, a popular health and beauty guide for teenage girls, explained to the BBC. "But the fact is they daren't, and some will even starve themselves because in this society to be a fat female is to be a failure."

"Fat women are seen as stupid," Feertchak adds. "Their lives must be out-of-control, they are judged ugly, weird losers. 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."

Yikes. The idea of dieting to look like a French girl just got a whole lot less glamorous.

Image: Ktoine/Flickr