Wednesday, February 13, 2008

French Women

This is from an article last Sunday in the Washington Post...

What do you think?

The actress Nathalie Baye, who's 59 and looks it, has made some 20 films in the past decade, including romantic roles. She told an interviewer that at the 2003 C├ęsar awards (France's version of the Oscars), Meryl Streep asked her whether "things were as difficult in France as in the U.S. for actresses of a certain age. I told her that thankfully, French cinema is very faithful to its women."

These French actresses are products of the generation of '68, France's sexual and social revolution. But in the French version, women weren't expected to forgo high heels and chivalry in exchange for equality. So it's not surprising here when successful women retain their charms. In the United States, the two can seem mutually exclusive. The right-wing talk-show host Rush Limbaugh felt free to question Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's candidacy in December by sneering, "Will Americans want to watch a woman get older before their eyes on a daily basis?"

Of course, things aren't all rosy in French bedrooms. France has its share of lonely widows and divorcees. All the Frenchwomen I spoke to also stressed that older women must keep up their looks to stay appealing. Liftees are becoming a more frequent sight.

In the United States, men tend to treat older women who've done age-erasing work with either horrific awe or chaste respect. France is more sanguine. Last year, Paris Match magazine put a photo on its cover of a topless 50-something Arielle Dombasle -- looking like a reengineered 16- year-old -- to celebrate her new cabaret act.


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