Thursday, June 30, 2011

French Women Don't Get Fat

I was brought up to shift uncomfortably in the face of pleasure. There was no place in my parents' house for small, frequent doses of sensuality.

As a child I did not relish my food because I did not relish anything. I was trained to fixate on credit card debt, hated jobs, calories, clutter, splurges, regimens, money, gadgets, junk food, excess weight--not fresh flowers, dark chocolate, cotton sheets, a signature perfume, the flex of my leg muscles, a perfect tomato, a hot bath.

Over and over, I plonked myself down to watch Amelie .

I don't think I realized that at the root of her charmed life was a deep appreciation of everything under the sun I had been taught to ignore or abuse. I did realize that whatever it was that I craved, French women had it. It was all over the pages of Victoria magazine, a constant feature in cinema, and the main attraction of Peter Mayle's Provence books (which I got ahold of when I was nine or ten). I had a persistent feeling that the world could be cracked open like a coconut. If only I could act French enough to become French, I would be given the right hammer.

Now I am reading a book called French Women Don't Get Fat. It is a revelation. I do not need a hammer, after all.


  1. Lizzy, your writing is so good. I get a thrill every time I see you've a new post, because it will make me think and appreciate.
    Thank you for writing.


  2. I love that book :)
    I love the idea of truly indulging sometimes, but only when its TRULY worth it. Mmmm, I think its time for a trip to France... xo

  3. You are such a writer. (Does that make one jot of sense? Saying "such a good writer" sounds like surface praise to me, whereas "a writer" seems more... central. Like, part of a person's makeup - not just that they know how to make a sentence pretty. I hope this isn't totally weird coming from a complete stranger.)
    And I am definitely going to get that book. Your childhood sounds uncannily like mine. You couldn't be happy until you lost ten pounds.

  4. What a wonderful image, the coconut.

    Have you seen Midnight in Paris, yet? If you can get past Owen Wilson, you may enjoy it. I thought it was absolutely wonderful, but then I was seeing it at the Garneau for the last time ever, so the whole experience was kind of wonderful and sad and memorable.

    I feel like I haven't seen you for forever. It is time for another campfire or something. Or maybe a crafternoon at Amelia's (when she returns from Vancouver).

  5. I just put a hold on this book at the library on account of this post.

  6. I have read this book too - and found it quite an insight and comfort in my mid teenage years. Now I'm here in france, I have to say... it isn't all Amelie - and the quality of fresh food was a bit disappointing (at least in lower class areas like mine) - still I am happiest when I pause to appreciate what I am preparing and eating, in a variety of colours and textures - that bodes well in my gut and soul.

  7. Lizzy, if it's French-ness you're trying to attain, you've totally got it down. I always leave your house feeling like I've finished watching a film with Audrey Hepburn or reading a Plath poem.

    Also, as a French girl, this post makes me want to follow earnestly in the steps of my countrymen. Apparently, my blood has forgotten its characteristic charm.

  8. Ah miss, these words I read and reread again, just to soak them up pore by pore. It is and was a perfect reminder.


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