Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Aging attitudes

(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!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Confidence in your decisions

Symbol of France Marianne

One thing I have noticed in my readings about French women is they are so confident. They are in their ability to look good and still natural, say what they think, walk away from a situation they don't like--whether it be at work or in a relationship, and they make no apologies for it! In some aspects of my life, this is easy. In others...not so much.
I always find myself second guessing when it comes to friends or romantic relationships. Could I have done better? What is it that I could do better? Rather than also look equally or more at the other person, I always rethink, requestion, reanalyze the situation. Lately, with Buddhist inspiration, and adding French flair, I've been trying not to do this. However, being a certain way almost 27 years of my life has made old habits hard to break. Why is that, according to these books I read, French women can demand what they want and just walk away more easily from difficult relationships than most American women can? Where do they get this unapologetic attitude? I want that. I want that strength. Don't get me wrong, when a man on the street comes at me with a tone or a woman tries to walk all over me, I stand up and declare my refusal to put up with it. I'm not talking about those things. I'm talking about those personal relationships that you've been in for a while--that get uncomfortable, hurtful, even painful, and when the time comes, for some reason it's hard to let go.
Of course, I am majorly generalizing here, as American women can be strong and unapologetic, and French women can be indecisive and worried. However, as whole, there seems to be more French women in the first category. I'm hoping to understand this by reading more and trying to emulate this behavior through meditation.
What's their secret? Why do they do this? How do they do this? How can I do this in my own life and not look back so much? These are the questions I am trying to answer. These are the things I need to do not just to learn to let go but to really see what it's like to live on my terms. My rules. It's my life after all. Shouldn't I be making them?