BLOG: The French Woman’s Confidence in herself (and how we can get it)
Bien Dans sa Peau….
Roughly translated it means comfortable in one’s skin. This is the French Woman’s credo or raison d’etre (reason for being).
I’ve always loved the ideal of the French Woman. As a girl, I was impressed with their beauty and elegance. I loved their style and taste. I studied the actresses and tried to emulate them. However, there was always something that I was missing, and it wasn’t just the French accent! It was their magic, their vibe. But the more that I studied them, the harder that it was to actually pin down what details made them appear French. Debra Ollivier in her excellent book Entre Nous: Finding your inner French Girl states “The French girl, of course, is a composite of many delicious paradoxes, and it is nearly impossible to sum her up.” Ms. Ollivier then goes on to speak of the many shapes and styles that a French woman can appear in: the Bohemian intellectual, the rural traditional mother, the fiery politician, and the list goes on. However, there is something that brings these very different women together. It is the magic of the French feminine mystique. From my own observations of living amongst them, my takeaway was that they exude feminine confidence. I have never seen any group of women who were as calmly in control of themselves!!! They dress carefully. They speak sparingly. And they live frugally! They achieve an easy-going almost nonchalant control over their lives. When I compared their attitudes with that of comparable women back in the States, I discovered something integral to the whole question. These incredible French women didn’t have their lives under control. It’s impossible to actually control our circumstances. Life is extremely unpredictable. No, what they control is their own reactions to the chaos around them. They are very careful about what they allow into their minds and hearts. They don’t like to follow trends and they would never waste their time in unprofitable pursuits. Instead, their time is spent doing their daily work, while dreaming of their hobbies and favorite pastimes. A dear friend of mine gave me firsthand knowledge of the life and inner thoughts of a French woman. Ironically, we bonded right away (very non-French of her), she even searched me out (I was the English Language assistant at the middle school where she taught). All of her initial behaviors were that of an Anglo-Saxon! She was friendly and chummy. She was trusting and hospitable. But over the months that we spent getting to know each other, I noticed more and more her Frenchness. She shared her love of family traditions, and FOOD! She truly opened her home and hearth to me. She spoke English very well, and would try in jest to pass herself off as English. But her French femininity would always give her away. It showed itself in the way she gingerly cut vegetables to steam with fish, or when she would be completely oblivious of strangers around us so interested was she in a work of art. I remember when she took us on a tour of a church built in the 15th Century in honor of a Flemish queen. She was in raptures as she described how the roof was tiled with brilliantly painted tiles that came all the way from Flanders. She was so completely herself regardless of where she was. As to her personal appearance, she admitted that she wanted a flatter stomach, but she didn’t like hard exercise so she never did it. She loved to eat and was as excited as a child when she took me to a special restaurant in the middle of the swamp known as Les Dombes. It was to be my first taste of frog legs served the French way smothered in butter and garlic (heaven!).
I learned so much from her. But above all, I learned that we need to just be ourselves. I know we’re told to do that when we’re young. But as we grow older, it seems that we are expected to conform more and more to what everyone else is doing. I realized that while the French generally live for themselves rather than for God, we, Christians, can still learn how to clear away the fluff in our lives and get down to the essentials by being more “French.”
So, “fitting in” may be the more acceptable option for an adult like myself. But I can’t help it. My Inner French girl will come out. Thus on any sunny afternoon, you’re going to probably find me out sunning or drinking a margarita with the hubby. If it’s morning, I’m probably working out to one of my favorite videos. If it’s evening, I’m hanging out with my hubby or at church. My time will be spent enjoying the life that God has given to me and doing all I can to fulfill His goals for my life. Notice, where you won’t find me…. I won’t be running my kids around to activities while I sit like a chauffeur. I won’t be fulfilling other people’s ideas of worthwhile pursuits. I know that it goes against the norm, but I have to be the woman that God designed me to be, fulfilling His goals for my life should truly be my only pursuit. And in so doing, I know that my days will be filled with joy. With that joy comes the confidence to truly be comfortable in one’s own skin.
So what has all of this to do with health and wellness? Well, I know that most of us want to start a healthy lifestyle with diet and exercise changes. But if we address our mindset first, it will help any changes that we make actually stick. Thus, the first step to a healthy life is getting our minds and hearts focused back on God and finding His path for us. Then we can confidently be the women we were designed to be. We make room for what’s important and get rid of what’s not. This is why I always recommend mindset adjustments before any other changes. If you need any help on this or have more questions about it, just ask me or send me an email. I’m happy to help.