Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Dress Like an American 2

To all the people I seem to have offended by suggesting that all Americans dress poorly:

I didn't mean *YOU*.

Note: I said this is what the french assume about us. That is a stereotype. We have them about the french, too.

And I am not "unproud" of being an American, as anonymous suggested. Exactly the opposite: I am very proud of being American; proud of all of the great things about our country, and especially proud of our country's ability to adapt and change to the needs of the people at the time. This is a rare gift, and one we should treasure.

I just don't like sticking out like a sore thumb and being stared at all the time. The same way you wouldn't go to church in a sequined tube top and hotpants, or ride the NYC subways wearing bib overalls with a piece of straw clenched in your teeth. It's just dressing appropriately. I dress the way I dressed in the US, here in France. Appropriately.

But I also don't appreciate the French assuming I am an ignorant person who has not made any attempt to understand their culture or to learn the language. I have been studying the language for about 12 years now, and I'd like a chance to practice, thank you very much.

And sometimes, this hinges on whether or not you are wearing a scarf.

Men, women, kids and the elderly--they all sport them, almost all the time. (Although, I must say, Lucy is the first dog I've seen wearing a "foulard"--and people stop me all the time to tell me how adorable she is with it on.)

I know that sounds ridiculous, but it seems to be true. If you do not have a scarf on, here in Paris, the temperature better be above 75 degrees Fahrenheit. When it's hot, that seems to be the only time not everyone is wearing one--although many do, and I don't understand how they can deal with it! I do not have the French Internal Temperature Gage. I always seem to be too hot.

There are many wonderful things about any culture, and there are things that are not so wonderful. Some of the good ones are finding lots and lots of beautiful scarves for sale at decent prices--from your designer boutiques (not so decent prices) to flea markets to little shops along cobblestone streets to local street markets, next to the "potiron" and the "soutien-gorge", to the Centre Commercial (mall). Others are fabulously incredible food, and lots of it, for prices far below what they would charge in the US for lower quality items. This I am LOVING. (Thank goodness for all the walking, or I'd never fit into my jeans.)

And by the way, no one here has ever given me a hard time about being American. As my friend Becky (who has lived in Germany for about 9 years) says, the Europeans love Americans, and they love just about everything american they can get their hands on. Except, of course, George W. Bush, but I'm not going to get into that. They love to learn about America, wear American fashion (I am actually thinking about starting a seperate blog for inappropriate English--I've seen some of the funniest things), listen to American music, and watch American movies and American TV shows (dubbed into French). However, they still have a culture that is fantastically and uniquely their own.

And I didn't fly all this way, and go through all the hassles of moving to France, to sit in my miniscule Parisian apartment wearing a sweatshirt and baggy jeans and drinking Coke. I came here, as an American, to learn about France. And that's what I am going to do.

And if that means wearing a scarf everyday, big whoop. That, as the drawer-full of scarves I brought with me from the US can attest to, I can handle.



At 10:46 AM, October 26, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My goodness! It's too bad you needed to explain yourself, Mrs. B. If you read the blog instead of skimming it, it was easy to see exactly what you meant! Hope none of those comments were discouraging to you. We love reading about your life in Paris. Keep it up, and don't censor yourself!
Your Cuz in N.D.

At 5:19 PM, October 26, 2005, Anonymous kjm said...

Mrs B

Au contraire! See page 30 of the French or Foe book. If you are being stared at, it is a compliment!! I remember reading this years ago and was grateful for knowing it. It sure changed my perception of life in public in Paris!

At 4:22 AM, October 27, 2005, Blogger La Rêveuse said...

That kind of staring I don't mind. (I can tell the difference.) :)

And CIW--I know. I just wanted to put them in their place. I do love that here, I always have the last word. And the power of the delete button! Not discouraged at all, but am a little, secretly, glad that I am attracting readers unknown to me.


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