which translates literally as being ‘well in her skin’. How can you be well in your skin you might ask? This popular French expression relates to women, not to health and describes a general state of being rather than any one specific female feature.
Lou Lou de la Falaise – friend and muse to Yves Saint Laurent and inspiration for his famous Le Smoking collection.
Lately I have been thinking about women and how they age as every newspaper and magazine article I read seems to be obsessed with this subject – the must do’s, the don’t do’s and everything in between. See, I think French women get it right because by enlarge the majority are comfortable with their own image and it is this self-confidence that we have come to define as the ‘je ne sais quoi‘ factor. We all know that beauty should come from within but it is sometimes very hard to sit back and hope that our innards are going to make us shine. Will the people who don’t know me recognize that I have beauty within? Won’t they be focusing on my slightly flabby middle and soft jaw line? So what is the answer – how can we find our inner confidence and become a woman who is bien dans sa peau and who radiates that je ne sais quoi?
Ines de la Fressange – French supermodel and fashion designer. She modeled exclusively for Chanel in the 1980′s and became the muse of Karl Lagerfeld. Currently she is a consultant to Jean Paul Gaultier.
There are the obvious ways – cosmetic surgery, beauty treatments and all the aids in between. So many new machines and techniques have been developed in the last few years that promise to rejuvenate, re-texture, re-surface, tighten and tweak the face and the body. I don’t know if all these treatments live up to their promises and I don’t know if having these surgeries or procedures does provide you with the coveted beauty that we yearn for. I am certainly of an age where this interests me – I call it, ‘the fork in the road’ years. It is a time in my life where suddenly I don’t look the same as I did before and I need to re-define my style. The face in the mirror looking back at me is a stranger and it is time to rethink the wardrobe, the hair and in reality, the whole package. It’s that same day when your daughter walks out the door in your best pair of heels or your favourite bracelet and you realize that the pleasure is all in the giving not in the wearing. But how far to go? Which road to take? I haven’t chosen my path and I think in a way that is a choice in itself. I am nervous to follow a schedule of appointments in my quest for beauty. I am not yet convinced that invasive treatments will make me bien dans ma peau - I feel sure they will help but they cannot be the sole solution because even the most ‘beautiful’ and most ‘perfect’ women can often times be without magic.
And then there are the less obvious ways to face the onslaught of age. We could be like Madonna and find ourselves a younger…. much younger lover. This is not for every woman but maybe the point is this – that happy in love is happy in mind and happy radiates through, whatever the age. I like to think that there is a reason so many younger men are seeking the company of older women – experience and wisdom must be the new aphrodisiac. More and more frequently in a youth obsessed world the advantages of age are being revered rather than rejected. This should put a smile on our aging faces.
Fanny Ardent – French actress and winner of the Cesar award for best actress in 1997.
Or we could be more like French women and follow their regime when it comes to personal style. What is interesting is that women in France do not categorize themselves – ‘I am a grandmother therefore I should dress like a grandmother’ kind of mentality. French women seem to be women first – then they are girlfriends, wives, mothers or grandmothers afterwards. French women seem sexy – probably because much of their budget is spent on fabulous hair, a signature scent and underwear… I guess knowing that you are perky on the inside, well coiffed and perfumed on the outside puts a little je ne sais quoi in the step.
Juliette Binoche – French film actress and only the second French actress to win an Academy award for her performance in ‘The English Patient’.
The point I am trying to make is this – if we feel good, we look good and this is the French secret – regardless of age. Feeling good requires so many ingredients – a healthy body, a stimulated mind, a spiritual peace and an emotional well being – and all of this must start with us; we cannot buy it and nor can someone else do the work for us. Confidence is the key and if we are confident in ourself and our abilities then that is what will be projected to the outside world – not loose skin and wrinkles. Imperfections disappear with the confident woman and her inner beauty and intelligence really does shine through.
Honorary French Icon – Jane Birkin. At 62 she is still one of a kind and one of the coolest.
How to be ‘bien dans ma peau‘ in the coming years? Equal parts confidence and happiness, a generous splash of love, more lavish underwear…. and a dash of technology slash beauty therapy thrown in, xv.
‘bien dans sa peau’ image – vicki archer
those fabulous women – google