Tuesday, 22 October 2013

French women don't wear (much) makeup

It's a trifle difficult to reconcile what I see everyday with what one might expect from such a large cosmetics industry in France. France is synonymous with beauty products, fashion, haute this and that, and all those makeup companies but I ask myself, where's the evidence French women are buying the stuff? I'm not seeing it. In more than three years of working with French women, travelling on public transport trains, metro and buses I'm hard pressed to see more than one or two females per day wearing makeup, and I'm not out in the back-blocks.

That's right, they don't. Certainly not the ones my age. I usually do, always when I work. I don't wear much now because it all just runs into the wrinkles and disappears or smudges giving me panda eyes but I do at least make some minimal effort with mascara, pencil and blusher. Occasionally I might use some eyeshadow, even foundation. This is more than the rest are doing.

I don't understand it, where are all the chic, ritsy, bombshell Parisiennes? Where are the normal females who must like fashion, beauty products the whole shebang? How is it France's cosmetic industry isn't going down the toilet? It's extremely rare for me to see a colleague wearing makeup, they usually don't bother at all though much younger women might make some effort. Maybe it's the fact I work for a university? Mais non, it's like that on the buses and trains too. If I see a subtle line of pencil it'll be on a young female. Do women over 40 feel it's not worth the effort and expense to use makeup these days? Goodness knows how the lipstick manufacturers are surviving because if there's one item of makeup that seems to have all but disappeared it's lipstick. I must admit I don't wear it much because Jean-Claude doesn't like it. Is it a general turn-off for men? Distasteful to, well, taste?

One thing you CAN rely on with French women is that they will wear a scarf today, 365 days a year, no matter the temperatures. It's an obligatory item of apparel here. So I've plunged in, integrated myself and have followed suit, not that many but more than I actually need to keep warm.

And perfume. For heavens sake Paris/Grasse and New York are the perfume capitals of the world but you wouldn't know it except for all the Sephora stores everywhere which specialise in perfume. Beautiful stores but how much are they selling? JC explained to me long ago that a true woman must always seduce everyone she meets, male or female. This doesn't mean you have to have sex with them, just leave a positive, classy and alluring impression on them at all times and the way you smell is an important part of that. JC bought me perfume early in our relationship; some I liked and some I didn't. The bottles are still half full but sometimes I remember to leave my apartment presented 'seductively' and that means makeup and perfume. I always dab some on when I visit him.

But here's where the theory and the practice don't sync. My olfactory sense isn't picking up on any perfume on the public transport or at work. WHO'S BUYING THE STUFF? Tourists? France is full of nice clothes, even budget ones are interesting but most women I see aren't wearing them. Am I living in some sort of Matrix where nothing's as it seems or is there a weird black hole that sucks up all the women who actually buy cosmetics but who are never seen again? I await enlightenment from one of these mystery women...


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