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More French Beauty Secrets: Two Lipsticks And A Lover, By Helena Frith Powell

May 22, 2013

Two Lipsticks And A Lover is a book written by Helena Frith Powell.

It’s a guide to help you “unlock your inner French woman.” Another version of this book was published under the title “All You Need To Be Impossibly French.”

Helena Frith Powell is a British writer and journalist who lived in France at the time of writing this book. In this book, she set out to investigate what exactly makes French women so elegant, glamorous, chic and super thin?

But are they really?

Again, as with my other article on 5 Classic French Beauty Tips, I have to start out with a caveat. These stereotypes of French women are just that. Stereotypes. And during her investigation, Helena mainly talks to illustrious, upper class and super wealthy french women to reinforce these stereotypes.

I would safely bet that the majority of french women do not live according to these stereotypes.

Nevertheless, the book is an entertaining read.

And there are a lot of cultural and lifestyle observations here that we can learn from and perhaps, even adapt into our own lives. 

Two Lipsticks And A Lover By Helen Frith Powell

Personally, I’m a big fan of the zen approach that french women have towards exercise.

The gym culture and the marathon culture really hasn’t taken off in France as it has in the U.S. Instead, women prefer more serene forms of exercise. Like walking, cycling, ballet floor barre exercises, yoga, playing with their children, and especially making love!

As Helena put it, french women “treat exercise rather like they do food; a little everyday.”

When it comes to food, they never deprive themselves. But the key is that they eat some kind of fruit and vegetable everyday, they eat small portions and they stop when they’re no longer hungry.

In order to maintain their figure, they also make use of slimming creams and gels. I’ve seen these a lot in the pharmacies and parfumeries. While I’m here I probably ought to just try one.

If you’re curious as to which slimming creams to try, Helena cites a study that rank L’Oréal’s Plénitude Perfect Slim and Elancyl’s Concentré-Lissant Chrono-Actif as the top two most effective creams. Both are available in the UK.

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Another admirable french characteristic is their positive attitude towards aging.

Older women in France are still looked upon as sexy and desirable. In fact, lots of older women past their 50s still take very good care of themselves and even take on younger men as lovers.

The absolute key to the French way of ageing? Staying natural. French women don’t fearfully cling on to their youthfulness or try to completely eradicate the passage of time. Also, they see beauty as something to work on.

If you want to age gracefully, start early by protecting your skin from the sun and eating well.

The book focused a lot on french women’s obsession with sexy, matching lingerie.

There was also a chapter on fashion and observations about how french fashion has adapted to modern times. These days, it’s quite normal to pair a Chanel jacket with jeans and a t-shirt. Ironically, although haute couture originated in France, french people these days can no longer afford them. Haute couture is now made mainly for the delight of foreigners with money

There were many other cultural observations in the book that I found fascinating, but not really having to do much with beauty or style. Things like cattiness among french women and work ethics (or lack thereof).

It would be interesting to hear what french women have to say upon reading these observations about themselves.

Many times I found myself laughing out loud while reading some of the observations about french people. Especially because I personally have had the pleasure of experiencing the truth behind them. For example, the stereotypes about horrible french customer service? I’d say 75 percent of the time, it’s true.

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The part that made me laugh the most though were Helena’s observations on the french tolerance for taking on lovers and extra-marital affairs.

While Americans and Brits have puritan and rigid attitudes towards marriage, french people see fidelity as “arbitrary and sterile”. To the french, love (or lust) excuses everything.

French men and women can have lovers outside of their marriage. Provided that they keep things on the DL, of course.

While writing this book, Helena herself flirts with the idea of having an affair with a mysterious french man, who she anonymously refers to as B.

And do their flirtatious games turn into something more serious?

Well, you’ll just have to read the book to find out.

Find The Book: Two Lipsticks And a Lover On Amazon.
About The Author: Helena Frith Powell’s Website.

Book Review: 101 Things To Do Before You Diet by Mimi Spencer

September 24, 2012

“101 Things To Do Before You Diet” has somehow been translated to “Being Beautiful Begins In Your Head” in the french version of the book.

As someone who advocates cultivating beauty from within, I am always interested in books and articles that will give us some insight towards this endeavor. I am less interested in books about dieting. But just so that we can make it clear, “101 Things To Do Before You Diet,” by Mimi Spencer is not a book about dieting. In fact, it opposes the hopeless practices of yo-yo diets and self-deprivation. Spencer instead gives us a coherent framework on how to adopt a saner attitude towards beauty and our bodies.

Exactly as the title suggests, “101 Things To Do Before You Diet” includes 101 easily digestible beauty tips laid out in 11 chapters. The tips are either a variation or an elaboration of a few themes which are Spencer’s focus. Spencer does not claim that these tips are quick fixes to help transform you overnight. Rather, they are lifestyle changes that can be applied throughout the length of your life. These lifestyle changes include shifting your mentality away from the “cult of thinness” with which our society is obsessed, developing more sagacious nutritional habits, choosing fashion styles which flatter your unique body shape and instilling confidence to believe that yes! You are beautiful as you are.

Tip 11: Eat More, But Eat Better

To give you an idea of what this book is about, here are 11 tips from the book taken at random:

1) Stop reading diet books. Live your life, dance the tango, read Plato and other educational books. But stop reading diet books. And stop comparing yourself to the standard of thinness that’s dictated by society.

2)  Eat more… but eat better. In the end, we know already what foods are good for us: eat more green and purple veggies, opt for slow carbs, avoid processed foods, etc. But if we get sidetracked by a delicious slice of cake, relax–life is meant to be enjoyed.

3) Bodyshapers to give you a bombshell silhouette. Buy yourself some body shaping underpants. These lycra underpants are huge: in size and popularity. But they can really help to bring it all in–flatten the stomach, shape the thighs and lift the butt. This is just one of many other tips on fashion and using “optical illusions” to help flatter your body shape.

4) Eat Fresh Produce, and May The Force Be With You. If you want to feel in top form eat a more varied diet stemming from fresh plants. Eat in season, use fresh herbs generously and think organic.

5) Small indulgences, great satisfaction. Depriving yourself is not a way to live. So when you want to indulge, go for real foods as opposed to fake foods with zero calories. When you indulge, go for the good stuff like red wine, real butter and real chocolate. And keep these small occasional indulgences just that, small and occasional.

6) Never buy clothes for the person that you would like to be, but for the person that you are. I’m sure we’ve all done this at some point. You buy a dress that you think will fit you once you lose ten pounds. In the meantime, you’ve missed out on a dress that could look great on you now as you are.

7) Keep an eye on your portions. Over the years, food portions have dramatically increased. When you see a big plate filled with food, your appetite will increase proportionally. When you see a smaller plate with food, your mind will eventually adjust to the smaller portion. It’s just psychology. And by the way, stop thinking that small portions are small. They are normal portions for human beings.

8) Adopt a hairstyle that goes well with the shape of your face. And not a hair style that you’ve cut out from a magazine. As for coloring your hair, pick a color that complements your skin tone.

9) Stop being sedentary. We humans are not made to spend the majority of our time sitting. So make yourself move! Take the stairs, get off the bus at the stop before your actual stop, ride your bike, play with kids, adopt a dog and walk that dog, or simply just get up from where you are sitting now.

10) Get a handle on your stress. People who are constantly stressed release a stress hormone that makes them gain weight. The idea is to let go of whatever is bothering you and do something that will help you reduce your stress like going for a walk, meditating or taking a bath.

11) Beauty is already inside you. You don’t have to be a celebrity, or incredibly slim or rich to find your own quintessence which makes you a woman like no other. When you feel comfortable in your own skin, in your own age, in your own body and in your own style, you will radiate harmony and grace. When you are at peace with yourself and take care of your body the way that it takes care of you, your body will eventually balance out and find its own natural weight.

So, ok, I didn’t just randomly pick these 11 tips out of the book. They are tips that really resonated with me. Most of them are ideas which I’ve already touched upon in some of the articles I’ve written on Ziba (scroll back to my article on The Beauty of Harmony). And even if they are not necessarily brand new ideas, it’s important to remind ourselves of them from time to time. Because sometimes, we neglect our common sense and get caught up in the silly pressures of society to be impossibly thin and conform to unrealistic standards of beauty. I know what it’s like to live under the weight of a weight obsession. It sucks! I’m done with that nonsense. “101 Things To Do Before You Diet” by Mimi Spencer provides an alternative to a life constrained by rigid diets and calorie-counting.

Overall, “101 Things To Do Before You Diet” is a book that’s both insightful and entertaining. Although it’s not the type of book that kept me reading from front to cover, it should be kept by the coffee table and read and re-read for regular perspective. I enjoyed Spencer’s great sense of humor (read the little section on how NOT to eat, i.e. you have crumbs on your clavicles and on your keyboard, you are eating while putting lipstick on or sitting on the toilet) and as I looked more into her background, I have become even more impressed with her.

In brief, Mimi Spencer is a british fashion journalist and often writes for the Daily Mail. After reading some of her articles, I gathered that she is still actively waging a war against what she calls “The Cult of Thinness.” I look forward to reading more of her books, but in the meantime, you can find her most recent articles on the Daily Mail.

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