|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.