Living without a full length mirror for a year has its advantages, which I've discovered. But last night my son-in-law, who is a glass artisan, brought over a full length mirror and attached it to the wall. Oh-oh-oh. Enlightenment sometimes come like a flash of lightening.
To make matters more complex, I read last weekend yet another article about why French women don't get fat. The former American reason was "they smoke" -- and we righteous nonsmoking Americans eat. It's all hokum anyway. Those thin French women, like Coco Chanel in the picture above, exist in Paris and look magnificent with their fine grooming and couture clothes. The same is true of women of the same social status in New York City [we can add other French and American cities] where maintaining the slender body, perfect skin and hair and wearing ridiculously expensive clothes is their lifestyle. This is hardly possible the majority of French or American women. Most of us are too busy to spend hours a day caring for our appearance and, frankly, my dear, we don't give that much of a damn. We are not first or trophy wives of men who think they need such an attachment.
Oh, I know, some of those socialites do charity work that is important and raise much money for good causes. But they aren't on their knees at 8:00 in the morning scrubbing the ring from the bathtub or pulling weeds from the garden. The article I read says actress Leslie Caron remains the sylph she was 50 years ago by eating minuscule portions of food. Well most of us aren't ex-movie stars either and we tend to enjoy our food. We know that if we ate a third as many calories a day we too would be slimmer. But we'd spend the day thinking about food and not about the people in our lives or the work we are doing. Thinking about your hunger pangs several hours a day is a horrible state of mind -- many of us know that because we've tried this or that diet and lived [usually briefly] with that agony.
The fashion magazines and little-read sections of the Sunday paper need these elegant women as some kind of standard, just as Buckingham Palace needs their unsmiling guards. But this has nothing to do with real life as we know it. I recently saw Catherine Deneuvre in a cameo in a movie where she looked honestly mature [see picture] -- the personification of French female beauty is still beautiful but has come a long way from the Belle de Jour days.
All of this is a way of admitting that I am no Belle de Jour either and haven't been for some time. I'm not happy with looking quite as grandmotherly as I do and that mirror may keep telling me I don't need a snack and I should go for a walk ... which is good advice. I'm happy to have the mirror but one does develop mental blank spots so that only occasionally does the whole truth register all at once. The longer the mirror hangs there the more time I have to see as much as I want to see and ignore some of the other aspects.
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