Friday, February 18, 2011

Real French Fact #11: French People Are Not Fat. Ever.

Guess which one is the French one.

Excluding American tourists, I can probably count the number of fat people I’ve seen in France on two hands. Out of all my students, I have only one who could be deemed “pudgy.” The middle-aged are in impeccable shape, with not a flabby limb to be seen. The young are either athletic or thin. Even the elderly are trim, with the women often still wearing heels, to boot. (Bad pun. I’m almost ashamed.) I’ve even heard another assistant say that her class didn’t believe she was from America, because she wasn’t fat. Ouch.

            Why are the French so healthy while Americans are not? I can see the reasons in nearly every aspect of their culture. Portion size is a considerable factor. In grocery stores, unhealthy snacks are sold in teeny, tiny servings that would outrage us obese Americans, because we wouldn't be “getting our money’s worth.” There are no such things as doggy bags or free refills. They treat Starbucks like going out to ice cream, a rare indulgence, instead of a place to frequent three times a day. They eat good food over meals which last for hours, savoring both the food and the conversation. Additionally, on Sundays, everything is closed, so they take long walks for lack of better things to do.

          On the one hand, it’s a little discouraging to be surrounded by hot, fit people all the time, including a wide range of 40-50 year olds who are in better cardiovascular shape than me. On the other hand, French people also regard older women as attractive, even when they’re really, really old. They still get whistled at, flirted with, and appreciated past middle age. Amazing how a 60-year-old’s value can sky rocket with a simple change of zip code. My suggestion for optimal self esteem? Stay out of France unless you're thin and healthy, but migrate there as a vast flock with your fellow elderly brethren once you retire. You're welcome.


  1. We have some fat people up here. It's probably because of all the frites. I'd like to say I see less here than I saw "in America," but seeing as my version of America is mostly just UCSB and Orange County, I really can't. I know that this isn't the case for the majority of the US and that we deserve the fat stereotype, but still. My "principal" last year was fat and this year I have a couple bigger students (but maybe these are just the excpetions that prove the French People Are Never Fat rule!).

  2. I was used to being in the lower end/middle size wise in the UK and hate the fact that I am at the FAT end in France. I'm not fat, I'm overweight (I wasn't until I quit smoking, got pregnant etc). I just don't know how French women do it, how they can be so stick thin. Once I give birth I am going to have to work real hard to slim down :(

  3. You should try living in Cannes - this is where the proverbial mutton dressed as lambs come to breed. They are everywhere. It's half the penchant for plastic surgery and half the French je ne said quoi.

    And it's disconcerting walking behind another lady and thinking to yourself (as we all do - admit it) "mm, nice legs/shoes/figure/toned butt etc" only to have the woman turn around and realise she is at least as old as your mother.

    And they all have better clothes, figures, wardrobes, hair, pedicures, budgets and handbags than me.

    And they're all 50+.


  4. There are fat people in France and much more then just two hands. I live in Montpelier and my town alone has seven rather fat people. There just isn't as much as USA.