“Bien dans sa peau.” It’s that mythical state that French women supposedly embody from birth (though the vast number of minceur creams and pills in French pharmacies may be a chink in that armor), and, we’re told, the foundation to achieving effortless chic.
Being comfortable in one’s own skin is not a state that comes easily to some of us. We struggle with our failure to meet cultural standards or even just our own. We starve, crunch, pluck, dye, wax, inject ourselves toward an arbitrary and unattainable ideal. We practice denial: the comfort of going sleeveless on a hot day, ice cream from Berthillon, sex with the lights on, a day at the beach, clothes that actually fit our bodies as they are now.
Not to be morbid, but recent deaths of family, friends and people we knew only from their work bring home the point that Life Is Short. Life is too short to worry that your thighs are too dimply or your ears are too pointy or your boobs are too small or your upper arms sag. Life is to short to get upset at finding another wrinkle or grey hair. Life is too short to spend apologizing for the genetic hand we were dealt.
But “bien dans sa peau” also goes deeper, I think. It’s a type of comfort and acceptance of our likes and dislikes, our choices and values, and how we live our lives. It’s the knowledge that we’re not perfect, and mistakes do not make us worthless. It’s a form of grace, of living (and yes, dressing) in alignment with who we are, and not trying to fit ourselves into a mold.
In his usual eloquent way, the Manolo sums it up perfectly: Dress well, live well, treat others well, and do all you can with joyful confidence and others will invariably come to love your flaws as you yourself cannot.
Photo of Simone Signoret from here.
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