Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The regime of the regime*

Originally uploaded by Nyx.

Mince! si seulement j'étais mince!

One thing the French are very good at doing, is reminding you of how very fat you are and how you should be doing something about it. Which is difficult to reconcile with the other thing they're very good at, which is the art of food. In addition to the fact that they quite shamelessly intersperse ads for chocolate inbetween their multitudinous get slim ads, it's enough to drive anyone barmy.

The directive to slim down is, of course, standard in all westernised countries. What France excels in is the sheer QUANTITY of messages. Coming into summer season, as we shortly will be (tomorrow , so I'm led to believe), the advertising gears have been shifted into overdrive, and ones evening session of telly watching can quickly degenerate into an aggressive display of cellulite free bottoms and inner thighs that know what a breeze feels like. Now, in Australia, the large part of this advertising is directed towards magasine sales, subscribed dietary programs or late night infomercials ('I stuck my finger into this plug socket and lost 58 pounds!' Yes! You too can lose inches off your waistline and years off your life expectancy simply by ordering our special patented finger socket adaptor for the special price of $299 + $75 miscellaneous unexplained charges. Watch those calories fry!)

In France, by contrast, a large part of this marketing is directed towards actual snakeoil products; lotions, potions, creams (try as you like, you will never convince me that rubbing anything short of an organic solvent onto my legs will remove centimetres of diameter off them), and - quite hilariously - water. Diet water. I need to sit down for a moment and mentally digest that one. Most of this overpriced foolishness is what you come across in Australian health food shops, whereas in France it's sold in the first refuge for the hypochondriac - the pharmacy. Now here's another thing I've not yet explained about France - the sheer abundance of pharmacies; green neon crosses flashing signs of a saviour promising sanctuary from the evils of owning a body.

Every year, the health system refunds a staggering amount of presciptive medicine (though they managed to save themselves a packet last year by encouraging people to buy generic medicines) and French citizens happily continue to stock up on any number of remedies, for real or imagined problems. In fact the last time I went to the pharmacy - the sales assistant seemed quite puzzled and irritated by my reluctance to buy only one product and my dogged refusal to buy every single product he was recommending to me. I suspected for a moment that he was going to refuse to sell me my anything at all by way of punishment.

Now if you'll excuse me I have an unexplained urge to go and eat a bar of chocolate.
* regime(fr): What the above sentence expressly forbids one should do.

1 comment:

Lisa B. said...

So it sounds as if, in their own charming way, the French are just as nuts as Americans, only perhaps not quite as fat!