(French actresses Isabelle Huppert and Catherine Devenue)
One thing I particularly admire about the French is their unapologetic attitude to female aging. Yes. They still have a lot of models ages 18-24. And, they still glorify the youthful female form. But what's different than in the States, as I have learned, is that they also hold the older sexy woman up as something to be praised. She isn't hiding in the shadows with a "Mom" haircut. She isn't called a "cougar" (I think a very insulting term) just because she may like a younger man here and there. She is sexy in her own right to the French, and her wisdom, courage, intellect, and grace are acknowledged. She isn't invisible.
All too often, the more I read about the good parts about being French and living in France, the more the bad parts of the U.S. are highlighted to me. Of course, there are great things about the country I live in, but there are also bad things. We are bombarded on a day to day basis with young and nubile early 20 somethings and yes, late 20-somethings and early 30-somethings. Yes, it is natural, especially for men, to glorify these girls. They are after all, in their most fertile years. So, it goes along with reproduction and nature. However, if this were the only excuse to totally ignore older women or simply call them "cougars" then France would be doing the same thing. I think, here in America, people could learn a thing or two from the French when it comes to how we treat our women.
The French, although, some American women may see the men as pushy, LOVE women. There is such a love of women, in all her forms, a woman, Marianne, is the symbol of France! It seems, that although there are the bad sides to the fashion industry--not just in France but in every country, the overall good side to the representation of women in France is there is more acceptance of all ages.
Living in such an ageist culture as the U.S. (yes, I know I am only 26) can be daunting for a woman. It is refreshing to know, that any reasonably attractive woman of any age, with something interesting to say, is valued in France. Living French, in this way, many in the States would do well to do. Perhaps, that would help more women to truly realize their life has not ended past the age of 35. It's only half way there!