Max's Notes are my personal takeaways. No background at all, just the standout usable bits I want to remember from my reading. If I write about a book here, you can know that I found it sane and useful - and most likely it made me laugh.
Use at will! Take what you need, leave the rest.
Ooh La La! French Women's Secrets to Feeling Beautiful Every Day, by Jamie Cat Callan
Okay, a little background on this one, actually. I LOVE these "secrets of Frenchwomen books." LOVE. Cannot get enough. For a woman raised in a Puritan society <-me, there is always something worth the price of admssion.
So there will be more Jamie Cat Callan, and other Anglophone observers on how the French do life. Especially the women.
Now for the bits:
The Frenchwoman will always choose pleasure over work. Thus, there is no "getting work done." Instead, there are massage, creams, seasonal spa trips, "taking the waters." <- New favorite phrase.
Frenchwomen want to look beautiful, not young. "Take care of your skin and act your age." (They do like their cellulite creams, though - and apparently believe in their efficacy. Note to self: Investigate.)
They believe that beauty originates within. Do as much to feel good as to look good. Go to the hammam and spend the whole day.
What is this "guilty pleasure?" How can it be pleasurable if it causes guilt? How can it cause guilty if it's pleasurable? The guilty pleasure is an alien concept that makes no sense in the French context.
Changer les idées! Change things up in a small way, frequently.
"For Frenchwomen it is more important to be artful than to be beautiful."
Mme. Poupie Cadolle, lingerie tycoon, is very dismayed by seamless, smooth bras. (Me, too! HATE THEM.) Why would you want to imply you are without sexy lingerie or anatomical features?
A Frenchwoman will have a secret garden in the middle of life: Space for staring out the window, whether melancholy or happy, just being. Not being on the phone.
Frenchwomen like to be looked at. Have a dinner party; it needn't be complicated. For fun and frivolity, and to have an audience. It's okay to be a little theatrical. You're only middle-aged once! Participate in the theatre of life.
"Mais monseiur, comme vous êtes compliqué!" Translation: Sir, you are so ... complicated. Meaning: You are being a jerk and seriously offending me. GTFO. (Memorized.)
"We transfer the handicap, and make it an asset! We fight against the beauty norm!" -Josy Mermet, style consultant. Translation: FUCK BEAUTY NORMS. If I say it's an asset, IT IS.
Takeaway, or One Thing I Will Do Different Now
Short term: Hit the hammam, and spend all day. There's a very affordable one in San Francisco.
Long term: Participate in the theatre of life. Refuse to feel bad about wishing to be, on occasion, a tiny bit of an artful spectacle.