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12 Clichés About French Women — And The Truth (According To A French Woman)

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12 Clichés About French Women That We Need To Discuss
Love, Self

There's a lot you've got wrong.

While traveling to the US or UK, I've heard that French women are sexy, snobby, or only wear scarves. I thought the clichés were funny ... until I was seriously asked if I shaved.

I was born and have lived my whole life in France, and every time I meet someone, they have their own perceptions toward French women, which clearly builds the image we convey throughout the world. Even dating advice has used these clichés against us!

It seems that in the US, French women are sometimes admired and presented as models — proof by books such as What French Women Know by Debra Ollivier, French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano, and Fatale, How French Women Do It by Edith Kunz. Well, I would love to meet these women they’re talking about. 

I think it’s time to dismantle that je ne sais quoi about French women by debunking these myths. 

RELATED: Here's Why French Women Are Sexier Than You

1. French women are naturally beautiful. 

Cliché: At 6:00 in the morning, without any sleep, French women are just naturally beautiful. No need for makeup to enhance our beauty; we just don’t get old and manage to stay fresh in every circumstance, like eternally young princesses. According to some authors, our secret is fresh lemon juice every morning, and sleep.

Truth: Not quite as glamorous. After many lemons squeezed and nights of sleep, I sometimes don’t think the world is ready for my natural beauty.

There is no secret or genetic gift for French women. We, too ,sometimes feel the need for a little bit of makeup just to feel fresh. 

2. French women are sexual beasts.

Cliché: French women are sexy and seductive. France is the country of love and women are its ambassadors. We were simply born to seduce. That’s probably how we created the French kiss, right?

Truth: I wish I had an unbreakable method to seduce any person who catches my eye. But unfortunately, that isn’t true.

We sweat when we’re about to talk to someone we like, just like you. We don’t have any particular magic power of seduction. (But if someone does, I’d love tips.)

3. French women are good lovers.

Cliché: Not only are we seductive, but we’re also amazing in bed. We're especially sexualy liberated and we truly believe in our capacities. We are not afraid to try new, kinky stuff and to break all conventions. 

Truth: We grew up in France with the idea that sex isn’t a bad thing. For instance, sex education is mandatory at school. However it doesn’t make all French women amazing in bed or sexually liberated. We're all different, and not liking your butt being whipped doesn't make us prudish. Sexual liberation first happens in your mind. You are free sexually when you reach a degree of acceptance of yourself and your body — and we're always trying to do that. 

4. French women are chic.

Cliché: French women know how to dress and are always chic, without being vulgar and with seemingly no effort. Our classiness lays in our natural instinct for fashion. We know what colors go together, we don’t try to look superficial with push-up bras or high heels, and we go easy on the makeup. A French woman will always look classy without trying to be.

Truth: Exhibit A: me on a Sunday morning, hungover, at the supermarket in my sweatpants, buying food. I'm definitely hiding the fact that I’m so naturally chic. I think our reputation has something to do with the overall sobriety of French fashion but again, it’s not a generality and it depends on the circumstances and personalities.

5. French women always wear scarves.

Cliché: That classy and unique French style wouldn’t be that perfect without the presence of a perfectly-placed scarf, worn according to a very technical method that only French women possess. 

Truth: There is no Parisian way to wear a scarf. What? I wear a scarf when I need a scarf. It might appear as a crucial element of a French woman’s outfit, but it’s mostly just practical to wear when it’s windy.

6. French women don’t shave.

Cliché: French women have been known for decades for not shaving. 

Truth: When The Beatles came to Paris for the first time in 1964, they were disappointed because our women didn’t have hairy armpits. We shave! True, I don’t do it as much as I used to do, but that's only out of laziness and because I don’t like being pressured to conform.

Another fun fact: French women started to shave more after World War II when American companies extended their depilatory product overseas. 

RELATED: Revealed! 10 Subtle Secrets French Women Use To Seduce Men

7. French women don’t wear deodorant.

Cliché: French women don’t wear deodorant and are smelly. Therefore, our seduction abilities lie in the smell of our hormones secretion, obviously.

Truth: We are famous for wearing expensive perfumes and clothes, but no deodorant? Nobody loves the smell of sweat on a 92-degree summer day.

8. French women all know how to cook.

Cliché: We know our ingredients like we know our scarves and we know how to mingle them together, just like the complementary colors of our clothes. And according to some 'french cooking' tips I read, the secret ingredient is... love! Well, alongside butter, wine, cheese, cream, etc.

Truth: You know those days when you come home from work exhausted and the last thing you want to do is to cook? That happens to us, too!

Maybe food is in our culture, but to most French women, cooking is about sharing. I don’t like to cook for myself. We cook food that people will enjoy and around which we gather to have a good time.

9. French women eat — but don’t get fat.

Cliché: Not only do we know how to cook, but we eat and stay slim. Maybe it’s in our metabolism or maybe it’s because we know how to enjoy life’s pleasures without excess. 

Truth: When you read statistics on obesity, more than 70 percent of Americans are overweight while only 40 percent of French people are. So, how do we French women stay thin, considering our diet of rich food? It's simple. America's consumption habits are fundamentally different from ours. Go to a supermarket in the US and one in France. Compare the differences of portions and the space that junk food takes in the aisles. There is no secret.

10. French women are experts in child-rearing.

Cliché: We know how to raise our kids. We feed them good food, we don’t succumb straight away to tantrums, we encourage self-expression, and mostly we don’t compromise our personal or professional lives because we have kids.

Truth: Becoming a parent is overwhelming, no matter how prepared we think we are or how many books we've read during pregnancy.

11. French women are educated and cultured.

Cliché: French women have high-brow knowledge and high-brow opinions — and they know how to use both.

Truth: Just like any other western country, education is accessible in most big areas, and France as a small country has a university in all its larger cities. We're lucky to have a rich history, as well as a free access to education. But it doesn’t mean we use it instinctively. 

12. French women are snobby.

Cliché: With all that sex appeal, natural beauty and class, amazing food and culture, it’s only logical for French women to show off and be snobby. 

Truth: Italians claim to have the best food in the world, the US are proud to be a self-made country and greatest power in the world, Greece invented democracy. We all are proud of our country’s accomplishments. Maybe French women are snobby in Paris, but no more than any other world-class city.

RELATED: 10 Ways French Women Get All The Guys (That You Can Steal)


Alicia Proton de la Chapelle is a French-Paris-based writer, singer and songwriter. She's a contributor for YourTango and is working on her first book. Follow her on Instagram.