EFFORTLESS: How to Be a French Girl



Nothing makes me feel worse about myself than an article about how gorgeous, effortless and sexy French women are and how us American women are actual dog meat. It makes me feel so terrible, because French women DO seem so perfectly undone and chic, and the best I can hope for is to cobble together the American version of that. But that’s not nothing! I’ve studied hundreds of articles detailing the allure of these women, and I’ve compiled it all into four steps, simple enough for even the most basic American to follow:

1. Be Mysterious

Every article about the allure of French women makes sure to celebrate their mystique. They apply their makeup to appear bare-faced; they style their hair to look as though they’ve never even combed it; and they never, EVER, let a man know they’ve spent any time grooming at all. How the smoke and mirrors are practiced after marriage is beyond me, but that just brings us back around to the beginning: French women are MYSTERIOUS. My mother didn’t teach me the art of mystery, and her mother certainly didn’t teach her. I’m so completely American that I will tell anyone anything about myself within seconds of meeting. My husband will always know exactly how long it takes for me to get ready and whether or not I tried. He also then has to listen to me complain all night about my stomach hurting because my jeans are too tight. Would a French woman do that? NEVER! The only solution is for me to have my makeup tattooed, sleep without moving and stop talking altogether. So mysterious!

2. Pout Your Mouth

Beautiful pouty lips are the unmistakeable sign of a French person. We’re starting at an obvious disadvantage here – their language is round and fluid and ours is flat and lateral. Throw in the clenched jawline of days spent racing around drinking giant sugar coffees, and you have some serious catching up to do. Start by relaxing your jaw so much your cheeks hollow and sink in between your molars, then say the word “boulevard.” Stop at “boul” and FREEZE. Walk around all day like that, trying not to speak until it starts to lock into place. You’re looking at one to two years before anyone thinks you maybe once spent a summer visiting your aunt in Provence. So chic!

Image by Anjali Pinto Image by Anjali Pinto

3. Dress Stylishly, Accessorize Thoughtfully, Avoid Clichés, Don’t Try too Hard

According to every article ever written about the glory of French women, this is the quintessential difference between us and them. Some of them are beautiful, some are not (just kidding, they are all beautiful), but they always dress better than you, because they are FRENCH. If you’re ever in Paris, just opt for head-to-toe black and try to disappear. All of the articles you’ve read over the course of your life have done their work and made you feel like a lowly troll anyway, so the damage is already done. Don’t even try to look good – the MOST effortless!

4. Eat Everything, Stay Skinny

Look. I don’t need to lay this one out for you. You will never read an article about French women that doesn’t celebrate their magical ability to eat only cheese and bread and cream while never gaining a pound. Do the same. But don’t ever talk about it. Leave that to American reporters!


By now, you should be feeling really knowledgeable and also really bad about this thing you have no control over. Do I wish I was a French girl? I mean, obviously (OBVIOUSLY). Are they wonderful? YES. Do we need to be always comparing ourselves? No, because they are better. They are the best at being sexy and effortless and gorgeous. MEANWHILE, earlier this evening I took a personality quiz and scored a 100% in complexity (pretty sure it was all of the definite yesses I marked for questions like “Are you easily annoyed?” and “Will you keep working until everything is perfect?” and “Are your feelings easily hurt?”), which I think is the most American thing ever. I do, however, never brush or blowdry and rarely do I wash my hair. A couple more years with my pout exercises, and my complexity will be the sexiest!

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