Oh, that’s right, they went to Lille. Where I live! Super duper!
People here actually look normal, and this is an unsettling phenomenon. You know the stereotype of French women, that every one could pass as an haute couture model? That’s actually true. At least in my experience in Dijon and Paris it has been. But can you imagine how it feels to be a normal-looking person amongst these unintentionally (but also sometimes very intentionally) holier-than-thou beings? I mean, come on guys. Sometimes I don’t have time to do my hair so it looks effortlessly messy and yet magazine cover-worthy at the same time, and sometimes it’s just because I didn’t feel like doing my hair that day. I don’t own boots that make my legs look a mile long, and I would rather not wear stilettos on these godforsaken cobblestone sidewalks. Also, I cannot master that stupid winged tip eyeliner fad, and I’ve learned that the raccoon look is not so flattering on me.
The thing about other places in France is that if you fall under any of the categories listed above, people have no qualms giving you looks that would kill faster than Voldemort’s avada kedavra. Like, seriously. It sucks. And I’m not saying that those people don’t exist here; believe me, they do. But in a much smaller quantity (THANK GOD). Both my roommate have noticed a significant amount of normal, real-looking people here. People like us who didn’t just step off of the runway, and who maybe shop at reasonably-priced stores.
People here wear rain coats when it’s raining and sweatshirts when it’s cold (this apparently is a truly foreign concept in other parts of France). Also, they exercise (and they do it outdoors!). This is really monumental. It’s great to be able to partake in physical activity without being stopped and asked what on Earth I’m doing (this actually happened to me in Dijon). And there’s also a fair amount of people who don’t wear outfits that look like Anna Wintour personally approved them. It is unbelievably refreshing to not feel mortifyingly self-conscious every time I step even an inch outside my apartment. I love being able to literally run around the city in my workout clothes. I’ve even busted out my Converse sneakers a couple times, because they’re comfortable walking shoes. I hope no one fainted after reading that.
So, reasons thus far why I like Lille:
1) People are friendly.
2) Travel is easy.
3) Lots of young people.
4) The people can have a good laugh at their own expense (see: the “ch’ti” portion of my post Living the Lille Life).
5) Locals seem to be normal Earth-dwellers to whom I can easily relate.
And that’s just after being here for a little over a month…I’ve got 6 of ’em left, so I can only imagine how long this list will be by then. À bientôt mes chéris, and don’t forget to love yourselves just the way you are!