Tag Archives: self-help

Ms. Outer Beauty

If you keep up with my blog, you will recall that I have recently ventured into the self-help section in order to attempt to understand the French dating psyche.  This will be the first of many book reports about the topics covered in the book.  What do I have in store for you?  Brace yourself for a series of bitchy analyses, anthropological musings, and irreverent generalizations.

Just a warning, this book isn’t organized at all.  I’m just going to blog about the topics as they occur in the book, which has arranged them in no particular order.  There are no chapter titles; it’s like stream-of-consciousness self-help from the brilliant minds of Aude and Leslie.

I’m already annoyed.

Damn you, Aude and Leslie.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The first topic of the book is a series of responses to the question: “Where would I begin to pull myself back on track?”

First of all, this obviously implies that ‘being single’ means that, as a woman, I am horribly OFF track.

Toto, we are not in Kansas anymore.

American positive thinking?  What is that?  We are in France.  Being single is apparently a deplorable situation for a woman, and Aude and Leslie think that they are put on this earth to get me “back on track” by starting with the following two steps:

  1. Make yourself beautiful from A to Z.
  2. Lose however much weight you need to in order to feel secure.

Seriously.  I can’t make this stuff up.  I am sitting here at a Parisian cafe reading a neon pink book that is telling me that the first step to finding a man can be boiled down to those two things.

But wait for it… it gets better…

Under Step 1, Aude and Leslie tell us the following things:

  • “This is not a question of ‘inner beauty'”

I see…  Inner beauty means shit here.  Women must de-uglify as soon as possible.  I suppose that the genetically disadvantaged are just… screwed?  But perhaps Aude and Leslie will talk about getting our inner beauty in order later in the book…

Oh, wait.

These French bitches didn’t think to put a table of contents.  So now I’m forced to read the whole damn book without skipping any of their gems of wisdom.

Fuckers.

  • “Taking care of yourself = You feel pretty = You are attractive = You will be successful = YOU WILL FIND THE MAN OF YOUR DREAMS”

Ummm… there are some serious gaps in the logic flow-chart here.  I believe there are some key steps missing in between “You are attractive” and “You will be successful” and in between “You will be successful” and “YOU WILL FIND THE MAN OF YOUR DREAMS.”

Aude, Leslie, stop shouting at me.  You are not making sense.

  • Check l’Oréal’s website for their how-to videos about applying makeup.
  • Go to Sephora for their make-up classes, which apparently cost 45 euros per person.

OK, OK, no need to beat a dead horse to death.  Geez, I get it.  I am a monster, and I need to put a mask on it ASAP.

Now… Step 2 about losing weight is in and of itself quite an incendiary statement.  Why would Aude and Leslie make the assumption that we are single BECAUSE we are overweight?

Oh.  I know.  Maybe it’s because they’re French?  See my earlier blog post for a personal incident in favor of this theory here.

And for those of you who would like to know one of Aude and Leslie’s secrets to losing weight…

  • “Keep the following mini-calorie foods on hand at all times: carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, radishes or (and they add this at the end as if it were some sort of luxury indulgence) a small piece of plain bread.”

Did you notice that I didn’t mention the word ‘exercise’?  That’s because Leslie and Aude didn’t.

Anyone who knows me has heard my tirade about how Frenchwomen are stick insects who are so obsessed with being skinny that starve themselves to do it.  Exercise has NEVER entered into the equation.

Now Leslie and Aude have just confirmed my suspicions.

At least they were somewhat useful.

So to sum up, according to Aude and Leslie, in order to find a man, I must be thin.

Oh, and I must starve myself to do it.

Because exercising would ruin the flawless makeup that I learned to apply from the experts at l’Oréal and Sephora.

I get the feeling that, were I to meet Leslie and Aude in real life, we would not be friends.


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Ms. Self-Help Junkie

What do the French all do in August?  They go on holiday.

This is perfect for me actually.  I can feel less guilty about taking a holiday from dating Frenchmen.  I can tell myself that there aren’t any in Paris for me to date.

I am obviously full of shit, of course.  The truth of it is, I’m just burnt out.  So many first dates, so many idiot Parisian pansies, I’m just fed up.

But the numbers don’t lie, people.  There must be something wrong here.  It’s obviously not me, since I am clearly a shitfuckton of awesome.  So it must be a cultural thing, right?  Therefore, my new project for the coming months is to get to the bottom of this.

For the time being, I will no longer be reporting from the dating trenches.  I am confining myself to a desk for now.  I will be hitting the books, conducting written research and reporting back to you all about my findings.  I need to formulate new, better-informed strategies before relaunching Operation Date A Frenchman.

I must answer the following question: how do Parisians date?

My theory is that they just don’t.

Therein lies the problem.

As an American, I cherish structure and ritual.  First date.  Second date.  Third date.  General courtship.  Pragmatism.  EFFICIENCY.

…None of which seem to have any presence in Parisian dating culture.

In other words, as an American dating in Paris, I am essentially up shit creek without a paddle.  So as any desperate determined single lady would do in America, I get my ass into a bookstore and scour the self-help section.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Now, I remember what the self-help section of Borders in the USA looks like.  It’s enormous.  It’s a shrine to the American work ethic and our desire to better ourselves, even if it fucking kills us.  It is a kind of testament to our obsession with pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps.  It is, in a word, daunting.

However, here, I found myself staring at a small corner of the store next to the emergency exit.  And the light bulb was out.

And you know how there seem to be a plethora of books on dating and relationships in America?  Books on everything… first date etiquette, flirting, ‘The Game’, how to find your sugar-daddy, ‘The Rules’, etc.

Well, here I had to crane my neck to see the selection of a couple dozen titles on the top shelf.

That’s right, folks.

ONE SHELF.

And this is where it truly gets interesting…

The dating books can be divided into only two categories:

  1. books about how to find your dream mate
  2. books about how to prevent the relationship/marriage from utterly falling to bits.

There are NO titles that advertise advice about dating etiquette, about flirting, about online dating, texting, sexting, or anything specific about the nuts and bolts of dating as we Americans perceive it.  I’m looking at titles like:

  • What Men Really Think: Know Them and Land Them
  • How to Find the Man of Your Dreams
  • Where to Look for the Man of Your Dreams
  • Your Husband, He’s Out There!
  • How To Find Love
  • What You Need to Do to Attract your Ideal Man
  • Women Are Crazy
  • Divorce: How to Avoid It
  • Easy Ways To Maintain Your Relationship

This is what these titles seem to be saying to me:

  1. Hey, you single women, there is something seriously wrong with you.  Get a man already.  We’re gonna tell you how not to be a pathetic, sad sop.
  2. Men, it’s not that hard to land a women; they’re all desperate to have a boyfriend ASAP.  But relationships are hard, so here’s how you put up with her.

Awesome.

I thought to myself, how am I going learn to date à la française??  These books tell me how to get that first date but then skip immediately to how to deal with the relationship you got yourself into after that first date.  What the hell do they do in between?

I’ve never felt more… American.

But I said to myself, “Suck it up, Man-shopper.  You have a blog project.  And you’re a researcher, dammit.  Put those skills to good use.  And you know what they say… When in Rome…”

So I chose the book that seemed to offer the most comprehensive information about the dating process.  It is entitled, “How to Find the Man of Your Dreams.”  (Shut up.)

I admit that I was a little ashamed of being seen with this book, so I tried to be surreptitious about slipping off the top shelf.  But as I am petite and was off balance on my tippytoes, this embarrassing little book fell off the shelf and landed on my face.

This was not an auspicious start to my cultural education.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I slid the book under my arm and scurried to the till.  I was greeted by a disgruntled-looking woman in her fifties.  She glanced at my neon pink book (yes, of course, it had to be neon pink), and she raised her eyebrows.

Disgruntled FNAC employee: “Oh, I have this book too!”

Man-shopper: “Really?  What did you think?  Will it help me find a man?”

Disgruntled FNAC employee: “You’re buying it for YOURSELF?”  She looked me up and down.  “You’re pretty.  Shouldn’t you already have a boyfriend?  Is there something wrong with you?”

Man-shopper: “Euhhh…”

Disgruntled FNAC employee: “Did you used to be fat?  Did you have a gastric bypass?  You look great!  Don’t worry, you’ll find a man now.”

Dear readers, this man-shopper has officially fallen down the Parisian rabbit hole.

God help me.

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