Skip to comments.French tell US beauties, spare your blushers
Posted on 06/03/2006 11:33:01 PM PDT by MadIvan
TYPICAL French chic or bare-faced cheek? The simmering diplomatic war between France and the United States has taken an ugly turn after French women accused their American counterparts of being "painted dolls".
French madames don't wear make-up, or at least pretend not to. Their new goal is to glow, with invisible pores and highly polished skin. Too much make-up, they claim, makes a woman seem older, or worse still, appear as if she makes a living walking the streets.
And they have singled out American women as the worst examples, while putting forward their own versions of perfection such as actresses Juliette Binoche and Audrey Tautou.
Led by French fashion experts, the attack will stoke tensions based on cultural differences that neither country pretends to understand. Laura Mercier, the French creator of a line of cosmetics, who lives in New York, said: "It really astonishes me the way American women wear so much make-up.
"In the US, even teenage girls are overly made up. And when you are overly made up, you send out the message that you are overly sexual, that you want to be visible to attract men."
By contrast, Mercier added: "French women are not flashy. They must be subtle. The message must not be: 'I'm spending hours on my face to look beautiful.'"
Michèle Fitoussi, one of France's leading social commentators and a columnist at French Elle magazine, branded the "painted-doll" look "vulgaire".
Certainly, the French delight in placing themselves in opposition to the US, no matter what the topic - food, wine, diplomacy, and now beauty. A recent issue of French Elle poked fun at what it called the "too much" look of "California Beauty", illustrated by a model in a shocking pink shirt, bicycle shorts, an orange print scarf, mirrored sunglasses, a Louis Vuitton handbag and gaudy, gold, high-heeled sandals, earrings, necklaces, chain belt, bangles and rings.
The French say Nicole Richie and Britney Spears have adopted the "overdone" look, while Madonna is forgiven since she is seen as a hard-nosed businesswoman and free spirit.
Jennifer Lopez escapes criticism because she is Hispanic and therefore culturally more exotic.
But the French disdain is aimed less at specific women and more at the overall 'overdone' look. This season, the unadorned look is more in vogue than ever in France. The weekly magazine L'Express calls it "Le no make-up" look.
To women in France, it represents something more profound than simply one's taste in skin care. Make-up is also the mark of the desperate housewife type who tries too hard.
They cite Yves Saint Laurent's famous quote: "The most beautiful make-up for a woman is passion. But cosmetics are easier to buy."
Even for Olivia Hollert, a 22-year-old nurse who considers herself a make-up fanatic, Americans overdo it.
"American girls worship the cult of the 'ideal woman'," she said. "No part of the face seems to be forgotten. And when you use too much make-up, it means you are hiding from yourself."
In a poll by the market research group Mintel, 64% of American women said they sometimes used foundation, compared with 47% of French women; 81% of Americans use lipstick, compared with 70% of French women, and 59% of Americans use blusher, compared with 43%.
The image "du jour" of "le no make-up" look is Audrey Tautou, with magazines featuring the 29-year-old Da Vinci Code star without jewellery or any visible make-up, except for a slight tint on her lips. Even her beauty marks have not been airbrushed away.
Actresses Juliette Binoche and Nathalie Baye are also regularly featured in magazines for embracing the natural look
In political circles, the Socialist politician Ségolène Royal, a presidential contender, is successfully seducing the country in part because of her grass-roots style, broad smile and fresh-faced look. When she had an upper tooth straightened last year, the daily newspaper Libération labelled it an un-French act.
"The French people's favourite Socialist is now endowed with an American smile," Libération wrote.
That may be because French women still lag far behind Americans in cosmetic surgery and sundry injections aimed at making them appear less flawed.
Catherine Deneuve, for example, with her painted face, is sometimes seen as an object of pity. Deneuve, 62, the icily beautiful star of Belle De Jour, was once considered so perfect that she was named France's "Marianne", the idealised embodiment of the French Republic. She now admits to wearing make-up even when she is gardening.
"Poor Catherine," said Terry de Gunzburg, creator of the By Terry make-up line. "She let herself get hooked by the syndrome of Dorian Gray, of eternal youth. It's sad."
On the whole, French women like to portray themselves as more balanced, more inclined to pamper themselves and take pleasure in daily rituals than Americans. In its most extreme form, the US is seen as a youth-obsessed, throwaway, quick-fix culture where women are more likely to look artificially young and totally "done".
Instead, French women invest more time aiming for perfect, blemish-free skin.
Even French women of modest means are much more likely than American women to get treatments in spas or clinics that scrub, polish, buff, massage and cream their skins.
In this, the French government is complicit. Any woman who can claim to have a medically diagnosed skin condition, from eczema to acne, can receive a regimented "thermal cure" at spas in France once a year.
The French taxpayer covers as much as 65% of the cost.
> Led by French fashion experts, the attack will stoke tensions based on cultural differences that neither country pretends to understand. Laura Mercier, the French creator of a line of cosmetics, who lives in New York, said: "It really astonishes me the way American women wear so much make-up. <
Stoke tensions? Does anybody really care about what the French think, especially about make-up?
You disagree with me, and that's fine. You're entitled to your opinion, and I'm not going to tell you you need help, that would be rude and unkind. I am going to ask, have you been there and seen them, spoken to them? Watched them? Maybe you would change your mind if you had. As I wrote before, as much as I loathe their politics, I admire their beauty and the way they walk and dress. I wish I could be more like that.
Enjoy your happy day mon cher petit.
What really astonishes me are the news stories coming out of France. Articles describing French women having to wear scarves in their own cities in an attempt to pass themselves off as moslem women, because moslem men apparently have the de facto right to rape French women at will. That moslem immigrant 'youths' openly boast in articles of how cowardly are the French and how much fun it is to beat and rob them...All articles posted to FR, BTW.And this imbecile wastes her time being astonished at American cosmetic styles??? But then again, the article says she doesn't live in France any more.
Trouble is, the dear French ladies will be slaves to the Islamic sausages before long. Such beauty! Such divine grace!
I was thinking Tammy Faye.
There are a bunch of these with/without makeup photos on the same page. Check 'em out for your own amusement. I don't recall Kelly Bundy being among them. In fact, I never heard of Kelly Bundy :-)
Thanks--I get sick of that thong picture...
From a recent visit to Paris, I have to agree with the French assessment. American women tend to dress like pop star sluts and often trowel on make up. American pop stars tend to either look like emaciated POWs or overweight slobs.
OK Now get a bucket before scrolling down......
"Go all the way I swear you never could tell."
Funny that Laura Mercier is quoted. I have been to many a makeover at her counter and met Laura. There is a TON of make up used to give you the look of not wearing much at all. She was an artist first, and it is all about painting to cover the flaws.
I spend a boat load of money on Laura's stuff, so I might have to change to MAC to get that super-duper made up look (false eyelashes and all).
I see this as nothing but ugly women being jealous. Catherine Denueve IS one of the most beautiful women in the world, and her own people are dissing her! Those French are so freaking stupid!
Works for me : ) and isn't she pretty too!
I lived through the 70's and 80's. They have no room to mock anyone.
Clothing has not been stylish since the 40's and make-up today is applied with much more skill and style then ever.
Melissa Theuriau, the hottest French news babe ever.
French singer Alizee, ooh la la!