Never wear glasses, never re­veal your age: Writer on how French women va va voom through their 50s

Au­thor spills les beans on how stylish Parisians cruise through mid­dle age by look­ing for­ward not back

The Sunday Post (Dundee) - - NEWS - By Al­ice Hinds [email protected]

Never wear glasses on a first date, keep reg­u­lar sa­lon ap­point­ments to avoid grey hair, and don’t re­veal your age to any­one.

That’s just some of the ad­vice given by Parisian au­thor My­lene Desclaux to women who want to look and feel younger than their years.

French women have al­ways been con­sid­ered to pos­sess an ef­fort­less el­e­gance – a cer­tain je ne sais quoi – that makes them look and feel age­less, and the 59-year-old’s self-help book is meant to re­veal the se­cret.

Her book, Les Je­unes Femmes de Cin­quante Ans, Why French Women Feel Young at 50, of­fers Scot­tish read­ers some tips and ad­vice from their stylish coun­ter­parts across the Chan­nel.

Based on her own ex­pe­ri­ence of turn­ing 50, My­lene’s book started life as a pop­u­lar blog, and she be­lieves writ­ing has helped her come to terms with en­ter­ing a new chap­ter in life – some­thing she wants to share with other women.

“I de­cided to start a blog when I turned 50, as it was a dif­fi­cult time for me. My chil­dren had left the nest, I was sin­gle and I had stopped work­ing. So, I thought, ‘ What can I do with my life?’

“I had a lot of suc­cess and then af­ter 50 ev­ery­thing changed for me. So the blog helped me to think about my­self – it went with me ev­ery step of the way.

“It was just like a di­ary. I wrote not only about prob­lems faced by women in their 50s, but also about my life, my trav­els, my so­cial life and things I thought were funny. I de­cided to then help other peo­ple, too. I think if you help peo­ple, it feeds you.”

In gen­eral, she urges women over 50 to ban­ish re­grets and stop look­ing back­wards.

But some of her spe­cific tips – “Don’t have a 50th birth­day,” “Bo­tox only once ev­ery two years,” “Never men­tion the menopause.” and “Change your name if it is dated” – have been de­rided by some read­ers as out-dated, su­per­fi­cial and a lit­tle silly.

She re­sponds by stress­ing the most im­por­tant thing is a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude to get­ting older and grab­bing life by the horns.

She said: “I was in a dif­fi­cult place at the be­gin­ning, but I tried to change and trans­form all of my stress into a kind of joy.

“And I would like to share my pos­i­tive mind-set with my read­ers. In the book, I share pos­i­tive thoughts.

“Age is a bleak sub­ject, and I think it’s more dif­fi­cult for women to deal with than men. I would like to change and trans­late how we think about be­ing 50 – it’s an op­por­tu­nity, you are freer and it’s pos­si­ble to be very happy.

“When my ther­a­pist told me that ‘age is an ab­strac­tion’ I re­alised that. Why had I been fo­cused on age, age­ing and get­ting old? I tried to start think­ing dif­fer­ently, and I think I have suc­ceeded in that for my­self.”

On whether the French ap­proach age­ing dif­fer­ently to women here, My­lene ar­gues the per­cep­tion of the stylish Parisian is some­thing she hadn’t con­sid­ered be­fore her book was trans­lated into English.

“I have dis­cov­ered there is a very dif­fer­ent men­tal­ity be­tween the French and Brits

– that wasn’t some­thing I knew be­fore I started do­ing in­ter­views and see­ing the re­ac­tion to my book,” she ex­plained.

“Bri­tish women have this feel­ing that French women are more glam­orous and el­e­gant but I don’t know why! I don’t feel su­pe­rior in my el­e­gance. It’s very much some­thing that comes from the Bri­tish side.”

De­spite be­ing worlds (or at least oceans) apart, one thing we per­haps do have in com­mon is the feel­ing that turn­ing 50 is a mile­stone we don’t nec­es­sar­ily want to cel­e­brate. But My­lene ad­vises that new be­gin­nings should still be recog­nised with a party, as long as you don’t di­vulge the rea­son.

As she writes in her book, “Over 50, where’s the ad­van­tage in broad­cast­ing this nu­mer­i­cal pro­gres­sion? We can still ig­nore it, at least for a few years.”

She also be­lieves get­ting older is an op­por­tu­nity to be­gin again, and hopes this is what read­ers will take away from her book.

“Turn­ing 50 is a new start, but it doesn’t need to be a new stress. It’s pos­si­ble to fall in love or start a new job but just in a dif­fer­ent way,” she said.

“The most im­por­tant thing is to feel free to do what you want – who cares what other peo­ple think? Your par­ents, they are old. Your chil­dren, they are gone. The feel­ing of be­ing free is very im­por­tant, and so is tak­ing a chance.”

She added: “The more dif­fi­cult thing is find­ing the right way for you – what’s right for me might not be right for other peo­ple. I have just given my tips and shared my own path, but that might not be right for ev­ery­body.”

Au­thor My­lene Desclaux

Parisian in Scot­land Mariam Bye at home last week, main, and, be­low, ac­tress Au­drey Ta­tou at movie premiere of Coco Be­fore Chanel, when she played the French fash­ion le­gend

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