French women do get fat

«In France, meals tend to be served religiously three times a day at fixed hours and are shared with the whole family. Most offices provide their employees with meal vouchers and allow them a full hour for lunch (an hour and a half if you are lucky). Lunch frequently involves a glass of wine. Carbs are served with every meal.

This is not a diet to keep you as slim as the mythical Parisienne. Despite their carefully curated insouciance, French women strategize and watch their weight in secret. Fries and bread are consumed in toddler-sized portions. Apéritifs dînatoires (‘dining drinks’) often replace dinner: a handful of peanuts, a slice of cheese and plenty of cigarettes — a popular way to cut one’s appetite, and also très sexy.

To every occasion, a tactic. A French colleague told me that she ‘prepared’ for heavier meals with her boyfriend by barely eating on the day of the meal itself and abstaining the next day too. Asked about her diet, first lady Brigitte Macron said she never finishes her glass of wine.

In France, strict etiquette surrounds food. In upper-class circles it is rude to say ‘bon appétit’ because one shouldn’t eat out of hunger but for pleasure. Champagne glasses are held by the stem, in order to look elegant and also avoid the contents warming up too fast. The rules are dictated by a privileged minority who look down on those who eat out of necessity rather than for pleasure.

The idealized French woman is therefore someone who is wealthy, upper-class and white. She eats — and doesn’t eat — when she pleases.»

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