You may never have met me so let me introduce myself. I’m chic, I’m beautiful and, even if my diet mainly consists of wine and cheese, I’ve never had to worry about getting fat. Needless to say, I’m never alone in bed and should I ever decide to have children, I’ll probably raise them better than you ever could your own progeny. Also: when I get old, chances are I won’t wrinkle at all.
Who am I, dare you ask? I’m simply the closest thing to a living goddess. I’m a woman and I’m French – une Parisienne, to be exact.
Don’t raise your eyebrows at me: I didn’t come up with all this nonsense. This is only a list of my favourite clichés on both my gender and my nationality. According to British and American authors, if you’re a woman you probably can’t aim any higher than to be, well, moi.
Every few months, some great revelation about my fellow femmes fatales reaches newsstands and bookshops. There’s that Los Angeles Times bestseller that aims to shed light on What French Women Know: About Love, Sex and Other Matters of the Heart and Mind; there’s Bringing up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting; then there’s French Women Don’t Sleep Alone and even La Séduction: How the French Play the Game of Life.
The latest Francophile trend is perhaps more puzzling. In The Art of Sleeping Alone, Elle France senior editor Sophie Fontanel reflects on 12 years of voluntary celibacy. Yet instead of showing relief that the French do occasionally go home to an empty bed, the American media has decided that les Françaises, those divine creatures, even manage celibacy with more style than anybody else.
I’d like to concur of course. But between you and me, us French women aren’t all that great. We too have bad hair days and bad break-ups. Some of us are bigger than others; some of us don’t choose to sleep on our own. You don’t have to believe me, of course. But if you encounter an imperfect specimen from la douce France, please keep my words in mind. And pardon my French.
Daphnée Denis is an associate producer for Monocle 24.