Everything You Need to Know About the Body-Inclusivity Debate Rocking France Right Now

Photo: Getty Images/Frank Rothe
Here's a tip for everyone fortunate enough to have this as a choice: When you turn 30, do it in Paris. When I hit that milestone, I was surrounded by women who had figured out the ageless aesthetic. As in, not trying to look young—but each beaming with her own individual brand of sexy sunshine. And most had a (much) younger man in tow. It was a sight I had not seen stateside.

My friends and I, who'd all been fixated on the big 3-0 for months, were smitten. And freed from the arbitrary tick-tock that the world constantly reminds you of. It seemed that, at least in France, ageism had taken a holiday that summer.

So when I read Pamela Druckerman's column in The New York Times, "The Revenge of the Middle-Aged Frenchwoman," it was like a pillar of the body-inclusivity house had been smashed. Because the ageless are agitated in France. What happened? In an interview in the French edition of Marie Claire, a prominent writer and intellectual sounded off about his lack of attraction to women his age (50)—and the fact that he prefers Asian women in their 20s.

You do not eff with France’s legendarily ageless sex goddesses.

Even in live-and-let-live, boys-will-be-boys France—where Catherine Deneuve famously thought the #MeToo revelations were pretty meh (though she later apologized to women who shared their stories of victimization)—this could not stand. Why? You do not eff with the nation’s legendarily ageless sex goddesses.

Druckerman argues that the writer, Yann Moix, didn't commit a sin in the sex-positive country by having specific preferences—it was just that he was just so gauche about it. And he set off a firestorm in response. "'You don’t look a day under 65,’ one woman tweeted to him. 'I hope you’re lonely until you’re 100,' another wrote. They insulted his literary talent and his under-eye bags, and speculated about his wounded psyche," Druckerman writes.

On the upside: They're mad as hell, and they're not taking it anymore. Historically, French feminists have shied away from this kind of public condemnation because of the shaming involved—like Deneuve, they'll often argue that it's a slippery slope toward puritanism and a life devoid of eroticism. And the idea that women are victims of anything is seen as an affront to the badass feminine power they wield with skill. But it seems that l'affaire Moix has stirred them to take action. And admittedly, this palpable anger may have been boiling beneath the surface for a while: After all, France made catcalling illegal a few months ago.

So welcome, women of France, to the body-inclusivity movement. Everyone's invited! (Obvs.) And hey, while you're here, we've got a few questions.

Another oh-so-2019 part of the body-inclusive movement: vaginas (yep). Next up: cellulite.

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