The French Girl’s Guide to Hating French-Girl Guides
French girls say our obsession with them isn’t just silly—it’s a misrepresentation of the country’s population.
Photograph by Sunset Boulevard for Getty Images.
The Internet is filled with lies, gossip, classified documents, and fake hitmen for hire, Task Rabbit-style, but the biggest cache of secrets on the World Wide Web is how to be a French Girl. Entertaining, traveling, being too warm, having bangs, showing up, being an Italian man (?)—there is a French way to do everything, and it is different than the American way, which is crass, anti-intellectual, lazy, and with different but no less complicated views about religious freedom. Part of a thriving sliver of the internet that dresses up menial tasks and chores as lifestyle choices, French Girl Guides justify our compulsion for control over anything by masquerading this pathology as elegance.
Now the New York Post—that great builder and debunker of myths—has gone straight to the French Girl source for the ultimate guide to the ultimate French Girl thing: French Girl Guides. When it comes to French Girl Guides, French Girls aren’t buying any of it, and I don’t think I’m alone when I say I’m heartbroken (and I’ve never looked better). One Paris-born Bed-Stuy resident quashes the French girl myth wholesale: “I am not interested in fashion, my friends who have kids stress out when their children throw a fuss on the street and we all have crazy love lives,” she said, as 1,000 ceramic Paris skyline trinket dishes spontaneously combusted ($14, anthropologie.com).
The ex-pats dismiss our obsession with how they do everything from sleeping in makeup to get that Brigitte Bardot look—“That’s not French—that’s just dirty”—to Halloween: “We don’t do Halloween. I don’t remember ever going to a Halloween party.” (**cancels order for “understated sexy author mask”**) “I think 90 percent of the stuff they say about us is made up,” said another. (Clearly these French Girls are reading French Girl Guides as diligently as we Americans are.)
But it isn’t simply that we're celebrating fake holidays and neglecting hygiene to channel—ugh, I really wanted to get through this story without saying it, but I guess I have to—a certain je ne sais quoi. It’s that our idea of French Girl-ness is out of step with the nation's demographics. “France today is a super-diverse country,” a French woman tells the Post. “That sense of the blond, elegant Parisian with a specific look and style is just not reflective of the many different styles and looks you find in Paris—or all over France.”
So there we have it: the French Girl, like everyone else on the Internet, was never real. And our notion of what a French woman looks like is obsolete. (Is it too far to call this genre "politically correct appropriation"?) It’s time to bid adieu—or just say goodbye, it’s fine!—to your fixation on women who channel that Bardot aesthetic.