Where Age Is No Object: France

At MORE we believe we’re not getting older; the lighting’s just getting worse! We also believe that America’s youth obsession is not shared around the globe. Proving our point is this woman from France, where aging is celebrated as part of inner beauty

by Julia Savacool
woman sitting at a table outside image
Sandrine Bernard: Among French women, obvious plastic surgery is frowned on, while wisdom, and aging naturally, earn accolades.
Photograph: Christian Witkin

American culture may tell us it’s all downhill after 18, but our own eyes tell us that while a woman can’t be forever young, she can be perceived as forever beautiful. Especially if she lives in France. Or India. Or Ghana. Or a surprising number of other places where one’s value doesn’t diminish after adolescence. And though there’s no denying the worldwide creep of America’s fondness for the under-30 set (China, known for its veneration of parents and grandparents, now has the second-highest face-lift rate in the world), not every country buys into that concept. Read on for locales where age brings rewards.

New York City
Sandrine Bernard

Among French women, obvious plastic surgery is frowned on, while wisdom, and aging naturally, earn accolades.

Who she is Bernard is the executive vice president of Solstiss, a lace manufacturer for high-end fashion houses, including Chanel and Gucci. Solstiss created the lace for Kate Middleton’s wedding dress.

French beauty defined “On the streets of New York, I can tell if a woman is French,” says Bernard, who spends a lot of time at the company’s U.S. headquarters. “She has not too much makeup, not too much big hair. Some American women try hard to be what they are not.”

Why aging is attractive “French women are more relaxed about getting older because it brings us another layer of knowledge about living,” she explains. “In France, experience is attractive.”

Why they say no to plastic surgery “French women do not care about youth. They want to look natural. Plastic surgery is not such a big thing in France; you will not see bumpy boobs or lips. It looks fake and therefore unattractive.” (Indeed, an American woman is nine times as likely as a French woman to get plastic surgery.)

The French beauty regimen “My grandmother never had plastic surgery, and she was beautiful until she died at age 93,” says Bernard. “So I am following her beauty routine.” Bernard’s plan is simple and quintessentially French: lots of sleep and Champagne—plus Pier Augé Le Soin moisturizing cream (facialcompany.com), applied twice daily.

Next: Where Age Is No Object: Romania

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First published in the December 2012/January 2013 issue

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