Passengers are sleeping, coughing and sneezing around me. I’m hoping the plane’s ventilation system isn’t spreading the germs to my area. This is not a time to get sick, not when I’m doing my first book signing in Paris.
I’m writing this blog post at 35,000 feet over Kansas City, traveling at a speed of 699 miles per hour. We have 7:52 hours left until we reach Charles de Gaulle airport and most of the passengers are asleep, after a choice of Moroccan chicken or Boeuf Bourguinon for lunch. The flight takes 11 hours from Los Angles to Paris, and I enjoy flying on Air Tahiti Nui, where the flight attendants wear Tahitian dresses with a flower in their hair.
I’m comfortable in my aisle seat watching a French movie, Mince Alors!, with its double entendre title: Becoming Thin, and What a bummer! The theme is about the stigma attached to being overweight in France, (a big no-no) and is tackled in typical, outspoken French style.
I’ve always been fascinated by the cultural differences between the French and the British, and enjoy the posts written by my French blogger friend, Muriel Demarcus, who is so adept at pointing these out with humor. I take it one step further and compare the French way of addressing certain issues with the American way. Even if you don’t understand French, I’m sure you’ll get the gist of the movie trailer below.
Nina, a 30-year-old wife, accepts to enroll in a one-month weight loss program in the French Alps, a gift offered by her French husband. Nina works in a modeling agency alongside her husband and is by French standards overweight. Her suave husband, with an eye for other women, hands her a gift certificate to attend a weight loss farm, while he takes off to Munich with his skinny assistant.
“You’ll have time since we’re not busy at work right now,” he says, handing her the certificate.
When Nina has her first appointment with the doctor at the health clinic, she says, “My husband likes skinny women, make me skinny doctor.”
“I want you to be healthy, and to loose weight for yourself, not for someone else,” the doctor replies.
“I don’t have time; I’m here to get results. I don’t care what you do, but I want results.”
I watched the movie in French to brush up on my conversational skills, and to immerse myself in the French way of life. There were certain scenes that made me squirm, such as when Nina says she has about five kilos to loose, and her mother-in-law says, “more like 20 kilos.”
I’m not a psychologist, just a curious woman who happens to have lived half her life in Europe, and the other half in the U.S. Although France and the U.S. are both multi-cultural, I do believe it’s possible to identify specific traits relevant to each country.
Take for example young children. I noticed immediately how the French tend to dress their young children as mini-adults, with stylish coats, belts and hats, whereas Americans dress their toddlers as toddlers. Who knows, that might be because I live in southern California, which is more casual than perhaps New York.
In her book, Why French Parents Are Superior, author Pamela Druckerman wrote:
“French toddlers were sitting contentedly in their high chairs, waiting for their food, or eating fish and even vegetables. There was no shrieking or whining. And there was no debris around their tables.”
Druckerman’s statement hit home when a few weeks ago I was standing in line at Peet’s coffee where I noticed a mom and her twin toddlers sitting at a table sharing a muffin. Chunks of muffin went flying, as the twins practiced tossing them, and when she left, the tile resembled a muffin war zone. Did the mother pick up the mess? No.
“Why was it, for example, that in the hundreds of hours I’d clocked at French playgrounds, I’d never seen a child (except my own) throw a temper tantrum? Why didn’t my French friends ever need to rush off the phone because their kids were demanding something? Why hadn’t their living rooms been taken over by teepees and toy kitchens, the way ours had?”
Yes, I do like comparisons, purely from an interest point of view. Debra Ollivier, another author who spends her time in the U.S and France wrote, What French Women Know. I had an opportunity to meet her and read her book.
So, yes, I do believe that French movies are more gutsy in tackling sensitive issues than American movies, and I think it’s different and refreshing.
DECEMBER IS DIFFERENT.
I shall be posting from Paris this week. I plan to share stories and photos, from Paris and London, where I am doing an event on December 13th.
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I haven’t had any experience in France to compare parenting but from what you wrote I would agree we have too many out of control parents and kids in the U.S. Teaching good manners used to be the norm but, somewhere along the line manners were lost in parenting. It’s a shame.
Have a ball in Europe! I’m jealous. 😉
Barbara recently posted..And The Winner Is…
Sonia Marsh says
Did you go to Paris when you worked in the modeling business?
Belinda Nicoll says
It sounds like you’re having a good time so far. It’s so funny, I was looking for Mince Alors on Netflix and the closest I got to it is a movie called “He’s Mine Not Yours.” Another coincidence: I just read about obesity in young falling in several U.S. cities, Philadelphia being one of them, so that’s encouraging.
BTW, I’m busy with a blog post that references your more unique marketing strategies. Enjoy the rest of your time.
Sonia Marsh says
Wss that the title they gave “Mince Alors” or was that another movie? Good news about childhood obesity decreasing. I would love to see your blog post when it’s up. The sun came out today in Paris. Very cold and crisp air.
Belinda Nicoll says
It’s another movie. Mince Alors does not come up on my Netflix search…oh well, I’ve certainly got a long list lined up. Enjoy the sun!
The film sounds fun, but there are plenty of tubby French women around, even young. Amongst the mums at Ruadhri’s school, I’m the slimmest and I’m an expat and much older than most of them! Kids generally aren’t fat and you’re right that they’re well brought up as a whole, but you do see tantrums in public and there’s a lot of whining. The word ‘maman’ (‘Mummy’ in French) lends itself very easily to a certain very irritating and whiney intonation! I’m glad Rors can’t manage to do that with ‘Mum’!
Have a fabulous and successful time in Paris.
Steph recently posted..12.12.12 Blog Hop Fun
Sonia Marsh says
Steph, I wonder if Parisians have a different attitude about this than those outside Paris. And you’re right, I have heard the “Mais mamaaaaan…..”
Sorry we shall miss one another.
We won’t talk about family education in the sensitive Parisian suburbs, will we!!!
I’d love to know more about American ways of thinking towards education. In France the stress really seems to be on work at school.