Americans have asked me about how the French can stay so thin and still eat bread, butter, cheese and sweets. It’s assumed it’s because they walk so much and that may be partially true but from my observations is it has more to do with restraint, choices and genetics. At work events I see when small trays of appetizers are being passed, many of the French woman simply don’t eat them or only eat one. Any person who has ever done weight watchers knows that passed appetizers are point killers filled with empty and unsatisfying calories. And the French women seem to inherantly know that they are not worth it. Also, if the woman indulges in a large lunch or dinner, she typically makes lighter choices for the following meal. I don’t see any of my colleagues having 3 course lunches day in and day out. Finally, I think it’s simply genetics and I see this in the French clothing.
There are a handful of clothing stores that the majority of Parisian women between the ages of 30-45 shop: Maje, Sandro, Les Petites, Comptoir des Cotonniers and Claudie Pierlot. I am generally size 8-10 US/40 EUR. But in many of these stores I’m at least 40 or 42 and in Maje, Sandro and Claudie Pierlot, their clothes don’t go above a size 40 which I can just fit in to. I do not consider myself a large sized person but over time, it can become discouraging to walk out of a store not being able to buy something because you can’t fit in their largest size (for me it’s usually the blazers and jeans). The cuts of these clothes which are all French brands represents the general sizing of the country. My friend who works at a used clothing store told me the most sold size of jeans is a 25. There are days when all this makes me feel like an outsider but then I remind myself: I am not French and I am an outsider and I’m okay with that.