Secrets of St. Barth's Beauties
The secrets, tips, and how-to live and look-like the beauties of St. Bart's. Globetrotting American, Caroline Alexa McBride, reveals how French women in their 30s, 40s, and 50s look and act decades younger, and, dance the night away!
Deconstructing the French Femme Fatale Mystique
After accepting an invitation to vacation in St. Barth’s and St. Maarten for the New Year’s holiday, my friend informed me that I would be the only American in our group of Parisians and French-Swiss from Geneva. I envisioned myself on a Caribbean beach surrounded by a flock of those legendary French women who always look svelte and sophisticated while leisurely sipping red wine. Although such images are a common stereotype, there is constant speculation about the secrets behind the stunning French ladies. The New Year had yet to begin, but I resolved to find answers in time for 2008.
Upon arriving to St. Maarten I was cheerfully greeted by my charming hostess, Geraldine Hubert. Sporting a Cavalli bikini I recognized from a recent magazine, she showed off her perfect figure and appeared to be in her late twenties. I was shocked to discover later that Mme Hubert has been married for over seventeen years and is the proud mother of two children. Her attitude and looks defy her actual age. We boated directly to a yacht belonging to her sister’s boyfriend and enjoyed a beautiful spaghetti pomodoro lunch complete with baguette, fresh salad, red wine and espresso with chocolates for desert. As predicted, the women onboard were extremely attractive and effortlessly oozed French sophistication.
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Nathalie, Regine, Gerladine, and Caroline enjoying the beach
Regardless of our location—dining at the Hubert family compound in St. Maarten, racing on the speed boat, shopping in St. Barth’s, or wading in the Caribbean sea—the women always looked fabulous. Although in their 30s and 40s, their energy level was that of teenagers. They danced on top of tables at Nikki Beach in St. Barth’s on New Year’s Eve and kept the party raging past dawn.
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Geraldine Hubert with Suzanne and Friends Dancing at Nikki Beach
Observing the women throughout the trip, I noticed that they do not smoke, do not take drugs, nor do they rely upon a "caffeine IV" filled with doses of soda and coffee. Their toned bodies did not evolve from anything unnatural like plastic surgery or eating disorders. Somewhat perplexed, I eventually felt comfortable asking them what the European women on the island do to look and feel so "trés magnifique." My query was met with surprise as they insisted that they are just like everyone else. I continued to probe and explained that American women want to look and feel as good as they do. "But the women in L.A., they look like this, no?" Mme Hubert asked. I explained that my country is full of attractive women, but generally lack the "spark" and positive body image attitude that seems to come naturally to French women. American women stress over the calorie content on packaged food, spend fortunes on beauty products, and sometimes go under the knife to try to achieve physical perfection. I asked her how one can obtain what she and her friends have without all the hassle. What is the source of that special French flair? Mme Hubert shrugged and responded, "I do not know. Nothing special. It must be the lifestyle." I found this to be a refreshingly honest answer from a woman who looks great because she feels great. "It is important to be happy," she continued, "to have nice husband, nice family, and nice friends."
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Geraldine sipping her Green Tea and sister Regine relaxing at home before lunch
While meaningful relationships and inner happiness will give us a priceless shine, I did manage to pick up additional tangible tips from the ladies to improve how we eat, our beauty regimen, and how we live.
How to Eat
Cleanse and Detox Your System Daily
Mme Hubert recommends boiling hot water and adding lemon juice. Drink it 30 minutes before eating breakfast everyday to clean out your system.
Eat Healthy Home Cooked Food While restaurant meals are high in calories and fat, food prepared at home will be healthier and fresher. Nathalie, a 32 year old accountant from Paris, informed me that if the food is not fresh, she will not eat.
Eat Small Portions in Moderation
During a sailing outing I observed Suzanne from Paris slowly munch on three Pringles potato chips, savoring each chip until she was satisfied. She passed the canister to Regine, Mme Hubert’s sister, who consumed hers in the same manor. The idea is to enjoy the taste as long as possible, once food is in your stomach, you will not be able to taste it anymore and you will be prone to eat larger quantities.
Keep Dinner Light
Everyone ate a healthy breakfast and big lunch, but a small meal for dinner. Their last meal of the day is comparable to the size of an average American lunch.
Skip Desert and Chew Sugarless Gum
To defeat sugar cravings, Nathalie chews gum and uses it to keep her breath fresh.
Take Basic Vitamins
While some in the group take multi-vitamins others only take Vitamin A or Calcium. Listen to your body.
Keep water or a healthy beverage nearby for easy access. Mme Hubert carries a jug of green tea and drinks from it all day.
Maintain a Tan
The women’s bodies are enhanced by their tans. Spray on tans from the salon and self tanning lotions are a wrinkle free way to achieve vibrant skin regardless of your local climate and without the risk of skin cancer.
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Regine and Geraldine with her Green Tea before lunch at the Villa
Use Neutral Make-up Sparingly
Mme. Hubert only wears lip gloss and mascara. She moisturizes with basic Clinique and Elizabeth Arden face creams—no need to go bankrupt buying expensive products.
Do activities that you enjoy. Exercising should be fun, not a chore. The group collectively disdains "hard sports" like weight lifting and drill sergeant style personal training. They prefer activities like swimming and walking.
How to Live
Try to get 8 hours of sleep. The women sleep an average of 8-9 hours every night.
Make Meals a Social Event
After spending hours dining with my new friends, it was obvious that more conversing allows less time for overeating. Also, you are more likely to serve healthy food to guests when hosting a party instead of gorging on easy junk food in front of the tube.
Be Fashion Savvy
Try to wear the latest styles that you feel good in. When you love your outfit, you want everyone to see it and you will subconsciously be more social.
Move to your favorite tunes and burn calories while bringing your stress level down. We turned the villa, yacht, restaurants, even the streets into our own dance floor. If you do not want an audience, you can still feed your soul by dancing in private.
Convince yourself that you are fabulous and others will agree. The French ladies nonchalantly lounge around in skimpy beach wear without reservation. Hence, slight physical imperfections, which everyone has, goes unnoticed by observers. Your good inner feelings will shine out. There is no magic pill that will allow us to achieve the exuberance of the French woman. But we can adopt some of their habits and make them our own. Even small changes can hit the right note within us and gives us a bit of the St. Barth’s "joie de vivre" glow.