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From Quarantined French Women With Love

Advice on how to survive and thrive in confinement

These are challenging times.

With this confinement comes a sea of limitations: don’t go out of the house but if you do - and only for essential activities - don’t forget your mask and gloves. Don’t gather. Don’t travel. Don’t walk within six feet of another human being unless you live with them. Don’t touch your eyes, nose and mouth. Fais pas ci, fais pas ça. 

It’s for the greater good, we know that, so we comply. Of course we comply.

Much like stars shine brightest in the dark, this confinement can also - if you look really, really closely - breed opportunities. Opportunities to re-center; to take the time; to reflect; to spend quality time with loved ones; to pamper ourselves inside and out; to stop perpetuating bad habits and start creating new, healthier ones.

We seeked guidance in the depths of quarantined France and found a few gems in its dark, obscure corners. Directly from confined French women to you, here are a few fine ideas on what to start, stop, and keep doing in the times of COVID-19. For your consideration:


START DOING


  • Try out new recipes. French TV has enrolled prized chef Cyril Lignac to cook two recipes from his house each day and broadcast the event to all of us, hypnotized by the deliciousness, in awe that he never ever messes up his béchamel sauce. A thing of pure beauty. It says a lot about the importance of food and cooking for the French, but also for many families around the world who still use this time to congregate and share. Follow @cyril_lignac on instagram for some much needed inspiration (and salivation), or create new recipes from scratch. PS: taking on breadmaking? Not a terrible idea!

  • Equally share chores. Women have been shouldering the majority of everything household & children-related for centuries, despite more of us than ever actually working as much as men. We cannot even begin to explain the weight carried everyday by these superwomen around the world, or to express our frustration at the speed at which things are evolving to better, brighter days. Essentially, it’s like watching grass grow. With everyone (no exceptions) being in quarantine, could it put us on equal foot and establish an equilibrium? It’s high time we shared house chores equally amongst all family members (yes, that includes children) and tested that chores calendar we secretly saved on our computers months ago.

  • Call people you haven’t connected with for a long time. There’s no time like the present to reach out to the folks you’ve been thinking about for months but still haven’t called. It will feel incredibly rewarding to finally connect, reminisce, get some perspective, shoot the breeze. Also, we should not underestimate just how much some of us are struggling right now. Your long-term friend, or you, might very well be in a precarious position. A phone call could make all the difference to either one of you.

  • Brush up on your classics. France is a country ruled by words. Written, spoken, we revere beautiful words. We have a long, rich history punctuated with literary masterpieces that have left a mark onto the world. And every year, we revisit them and push our youth to lose themselves in the prose. Willing to try and venture out of American literature? Here’s a list of French classics to get you started.


STOP DOING


  • Stop putting on makeup. We’ve never met a woman who didn’t want to achieve perfect skin. Luminous. Supple. Impossibly soft. But society has its expectations and so do we. Despite a definite and mighty movement towards bare beauty, very few women feel comfortable being seen in public without makeup on. Half of the French economy might very well rely on the beauty industry! (not really, but you catch our drift) Enter the quarantine. This is prime time to go bare, detox our skin and give it a rest from beauty products, however good for us they claim to be. Let your skin breathe, and spare it the rubbing necessary at the end of each day to remove all traces of makeup. Makeup removal routines have been proven to affect the protective layer of the skin and make it more susceptible to fine lines, clogged pores, pimples, and other nuisances we could live without.

  • Stop snacking out of boredom. Despite the copious amounts of pastries and culinary fare at our fingertips throughout the street of France, the French are not big fans of snacking. We are religious about our three meals a day, and most of us were taught to not resort to food in between, lest we get scolded by our matriarch. But we went to Whole Foods the other day and while there was kale left on the shelves, the ice cream tubs were nowhere to be seen. Any idea where they went?! You’re not alone in the struggle: we get bored, so we eat; we get stressed, so we eat. And right now, food is crucial to keeping us occupied and comforted. The key here is to keep busy doing other things; please feel free to adopt the ideas we’ve peppered in this article.

  • Stop bottling up your emotions. We’re definitely not advocating that you come at your apartment walls with a sledgehammer, but we humans have a tendency to bottle up emotions and store them in our bodies. We’ll pass on the details but this can create a host of health problems - some deadly - and well, that ain’t good. Let’s not do that anymore. Listen to your body! It’s smart, interconnected and reactive. Rashes, muscle spasms, intestinal issues, headaches... can be triggered by emotional issues. So instead of trucking along and going all #pokerface as if unphased, consider these to release the storm within:
    • Go for a little drive alone and scream at the top of your lungs (with the windows up).
    • Write, all about the cause of our frustration, the unsatisfied need or the thwarted intention; our feelings when this happens; and what we can commit to do to satisfy this need ourselves. If we believe it’s reliant on another person’s doing, we write our needs and express them openly and fairly to the other person. You might experience resistance or refusal, but at least the communications channels are now open and you self expressed.
    • Hit things. Fists, meet pillows. Pillows, meet fists. Utterly therapeutic.
    • Breathe. The 4-7-8 Breath (also known as the Relaxing Breath) by Dr. Andrew Weil is our favorite conscious breathing exercise. It works wonders and has never failed us.
    • Cook.
    • Dance it out. Fiercely.
    • Make love.


KEEP DOING


  • Gather to celebrate. Only, now, you do it virtually! Birthdays, happy hours/apéritifs, Sunday roast with the grandparents… does not need to stop because of the Rona. It’s all become a bit more challenging, but it’s still feasible. With a bit of planning, you can align the schedules, the bottles, the ingredients. Cook together, eat together, and virtually clink your glasses to better days via Facetime, Whatsapp video, Google hangouts, Houseparty, Zoom or your work’s collaboration tool. The virtual world is your oyster.

  • And, last but not least, wear lingerie. For fun. For serious. For your significant other. For yourself. If you follow us, it must mean that you love lingerie at least as much as we do, and this is one habit we never want to let go of. Wearing lingerie will keep femininity alive when it’s so easy to slip into shapeless pyjamas day after day. If you’re one of these mythical creatures who feel fabulous regardless of what they put on their back, more power to you! In the meantime, us mere mortals will be right here, proudly adorning ourselves with exquisite lace and the silkiest of lingerie.
April 16, 2020 
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