french women

Pleasantly Plump In Paris

This post is inspired by a twitter follower, who in response to me lamenting at yet another photographic essay of a skinny French woman being photographed lounging naked in an apartment somewhere on the snooty bank of Paris tweeted back at me about being pleasantly plump in Paris.

Her exact twitter words of wisdom were:

Living fat or at least pleasantly plump in Paris would suggest a far more exciting and fulfilling life. The boulangeries! des pâtisseries! les fromages! le vin! THAT'S the kind of living in Paris you should start with.

I've lived in Paris. In 2008. I once went for a weekend to meet a man I met through Facebook intending just to pop over for the weekend and stayed with him for three months. Most of that time was spent fucking and eating. It was a lesson in learning not to order diet coke after 9pm, trying not to look offended when the only English spoken to you all night was by a woman asking " You both look tired, have you been fucking?", absolutely trying not to look offended when the sales assistant looked you up and down and insisted that you needed a bigger size ( to be fair, she was right) and trying not to look disappointed when showing up to parties and the only thing on the table were flutes of champagne, a big bowl of strawberries and a bowl of Ferrero Rocher knowing you could not shove your hand in that bowl in case eating too much chocolate prompted speculation about my mental well being. I still spend a disproportionate amount of time flitting there and having flings with French men, my point is, I've spent enough time in Paris to know (I've seen them with my own les yeux) that French women do indeed get fat, pleasantly plump, have muffin tops and that is totes cool that their bodies come in all glorious shapes and sizes.

Of course, you would not know this if you were to look at photographic essays coming out of France these days. For some reason, unbeknownst to me, photographing skinny French women in Paris gives the photographs a certain amount of ... Je ne sais pas quoi ... bullshit authenticity. An edge, that renders them worthy of being celebrated for the mere fact they feature skinny women with all their ribs on display. Regardless as to whether the photographs are actually any good or not, if they work as a single image or as a connected narrative, or they have something to say other than here is my skinny french friend walking around her left bank apartment. What strikes me about these photographs, is that most of them are remarkably unremarkable, black and white photographs with a hint of grain to convince you it was shot on film because that in itself is meant to be somewhat cooler and arty in the age of the digital photograph (like the skinny French woman who is way cooler than you are). Photographs with the colour slightly desaturated and muted with the right amount of contrast, someone's arse poking out next to a flower as a not so subtle comment or play on female sexuality. The only thing that makes them remarkable is the allure and romanticism that we all have with Paris. It's like we are viewing these images through a Paris filter that serves only to feed our cult-like obsession with the skinny French woman. Knowing these photographs are shot in Paris renders them more artistic so much so that we overlook the obvious that this is yet another photographic essay of a nude skinny French woman lying on a bed, the lack of originality is glaring but the Paris filter renders it invisible. So much so that apparently what is served up a diversity amongst french women in a photographic essay these days is, oh they are different ages. Some are in their twenties, some are in their forties.

So, where are all the photographic essays of the Beguiling pleasantly plump in Paris? I would dearly love to know.

By French photographer and film maker, Sonia Sieff. The photo series  Les Françaises,

By French photographer and film maker, Sonia Sieff. The photo series Les Françaises,

By Mary McCartney for her new book, Paris Nude

By Mary McCartney for her new book, Paris Nude

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