Many people, and anthropologists in particular, are interested in learning whether the qualities of beauty are shared by all cultures or whether they are unique to particular countries. They focus on the people’s physical constitution, bodies, and faces. They examine the shape, color, physiognomy, expression, and expressiveness of faces. Additionally, they focus on the bodies’ shape, color, and expressiveness.
Some observations revealed differences in the natural personal beauty of people in European countries. Henry Finck referred to many authors of the 19th and previous centuries to characterize Italian, French, Spanish, and other European cultures.
Let us continue looking in more detail at what is special about French personal beauty as it was characterized in the 19th century.
French Women’s Beauty in Graceful and Charming Manners
As Henry Finck asserts, French women often lack natural beauty. After the adolescent years, women have a general tendency to either become too lean or too stout. It seems to be more noticeable in France than in other countries in Europe. As he continues, there is no doubt that French women of supreme beauty definitely exist in France. However, such cases are as scarce as “strawberries in December.”
Nevertheless, French women strive to compensate for their lack of grace in beauty with their good manners and fashion. French women are naturally bright and quick-witted. They endear grace with their charming manners. French women typically captivate with their delicate little ways and movements.
French girls know how to use their eyes to their advantage from a young age. A witty newspaper writer once remarked that French girls
“can say more with their shoulders than most girls can with their eyes; and when they talk with eyes, hands, shoulders, and tongue at once, it takes a man of talent to keep up.”(As cited in Henry Finck, 1887/2019, p. 507).
French Men’s Constitutional Features
Men, meanwhile, are easy to recognize by their simians’ hairiness or their diminutive stature. Henry Finck, in particular, remarked on a difference in general manliness and stature between French and German or English soldiers. The English soldiers are superior to the French in terms of vitality and attractiveness. And it is more than “skin deep.” It appears to go all the way down to the chemical composition of their tissues.
French Professor Paul Topinard commented in his Anthropologie (1885) that he articulated in the early 1860s a fact that was generally supported by others, namely,
“that the mortality after capital operations in English hospitals was less by one-half than in the French. We attributed it to a better diet, to their better sanitary arrangements, and to their superior management. There was but one serious objection offered to our statement. M. Velapeau, with his wonderful acumen, made reply, at the Academy of Medicine, that the flesh of the English and of the French differed; in other words, that the reaction after operations was not the same in both races. It is, in effect, an anthropological character.”(As cited in Henry Finck, 1887/2019, p. 508).