The French are a nation of proud people who believe in projecting an image of self-confidence and “importance.” They demonstrate this clearly in the way they dress, and the food they prepare, and yes, I believe my fourteen years of living in Paris have influenced my way of thinking..
In her book, Almost French, Sarah Turnbull, an Australian author who married a French man and now lives in Paris, offers hilarious examples of the differences between Anglo Saxons and the French. She talks about the fight she had with her French boyfriend, Frédéric, over what to wear to the bakery. Apparently, “le jogging” or “tracksuit pants” were not appropriate for “le boulanger.” After several years, Sarah admits she’s becoming more Parisienne. “The fight was more than four years ago,” she says, “And I haven’t worn tracksuit pants since.” She claims to have chucked out her shapeless T-shirts and baggy woolly jumpers, which she donated to a local homeless couple, but even they refused to wear them.
So why am I bringing this up? Because I’m a firm believer that making an effort in life, pays off. Just like being disciplined about writing, exercising, teaching, or whatever else you choose, deciding on your image is also important. I’m talking about looking and feeling your best for you, so that you treat yourself as “an important person.” Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about being arrogant; I’m talking about treating yourself with the respect you deserve.
A while ago, I wrote a post on “What French Women Know; Can We Learn From Them?” which also brought up some interesting cultural differences between French and American women. The author, Debra Ollivier, an American living in Paris said,
I discovered that dressing professionally boosts my confidence and helps me treat my writing as a full-time job, even though I write in my kitchen, or at the library. I do it for me.
Now when I stop at my local Peet’s coffee, I often bump into a group of friends and we joke about who’s feeling important today.
What makes you feel important? It can be anything, no matter how big or small.