In the vast and ever-changing world of What Is Stylish, there are a few things that seem to be constants: black always works; brows, lips, and lashes if nothing else; and when it comes to effortless chic and undone beauty, no one is more prized or emulated than the Parisian Woman. Here in the States, we’ve raised her to near-mythical status, a cloud of Guerlain and tousled bangs that floats past our un-chic lives, never exceeding a size 4. And, while I admit that I, too, love that image, and a copy of La Parisienne by Inès de la Fressange sits proudly on my desk, I can’t help but feel exhausted at the whole idea sometimes. As a French speaker of Quebecois extraction who lived several years in Paris — but who also has chronic rosacea, frizz-prone hair, and size-8 jeans — few things feel so close, and yet so far away.
No matter how much the dream of the Parisian Woman may frustrate me, though, I cannot deny her immense popularity. She’s her own genre of book, the subject of hundreds of popular blogs, and a mainstay of magazine articles. Even when we analyze her more critically, we can't deny her influence. People want to talk about her, because on some level, we have come to believe that the Parisian Woman holds all secrets to living well, having great sex, and looking incredible even in a parka in the middle of winter. But, lusting after her imagined life is only, in the end, going to make us more unhappy with our own, and more unsure about ourselves than when we started — not to mention that the entire concept of a homogenous Parisian ideal doesn’t exist in the first place. Here, then, are six reasons why we should really stop putting so much effort into being so effortlessly Parisian, starting today.