Americans’ top 10 French stereotypes

A French news website has come up its definitive list of prejudices about the French held by people over the pond

22 October 2012

AMERICANS see the French as hairy communists who don’t wash but who are also chic and sophisticated, says a French news site.

The website of leading private TV channel TF1 listed what it thinks are the top 10 prejudices Americans have about the French, based on their portrayal in the US media.

TF1 said Americans seem to think:

1. The French strike all the time, are lazy and are Communists

2. All French people smoke

3. French women don’t shave; especially their armpits (but the French think this applies to Germans, said TF1)

4. They love wine and cheese, often eat snails and frogs’ legs and always walk about with a baguette under their arms. “Americans think of the baguette in the same way as they think of the Eiffel Tower: a French person without a baguette isn’t French”

5. They are chic and sophisticated. For example, dinners among friends are often more refined than American ones

6. They are sex mad – “a well-brought-up Frenchwoman never says ‘no’, particularly if she thinks she’s loved” according to American journalist and francophile Ted Stranger. The DSK affair reinforced the image of French men as sex-obsessed

7. French men are effeminate – they tend to be painters and fashion designers, while the American ideal is the rough-and-ready cowboy type. Their language is “delicate and charming”, not down-to-earth

8. They are arrogant and rude. However this might be because too many Americans only go to Paris, said TF1. Perhaps though it is also because the French are so proudly attached to their culture and stand up for it a bit too much

9. They smell bad and don’t wash. The image may date back to Sun King Louis XIV and his courtiers who doused themselves in scent rather than bathing

10. They can’t finish a war – the Americans can’t forget about 1940 or Iraq
Photo:Chris Waits

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