Bell or Pas Belle!

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I came across Michelle Thomas’s blog:  Tinder Date – it just appeared on my computer screen and I clicked on it – about some creepy man she dated who specifically wanted her to know (by lengthy text) that he felt unable to fancy her (to put it delicately) unless she were a “slip of a girl”.  (It does sound like a grown woman is not what he’s after!  Does he need to read Susie Orbach’s Fat is a Feminist Issue!)

It reminded me of a boyfriend at the age of 20 who said to me:  “Honestly!  If you just lost a couple of stone, and you wore a pair of tight jeans, you’d walk across the room and you’d be irresistible!”  If I’d lost a couple of stone, I think I would have been close to skeletal, and I don’t think that was what he actually wanted!

It also reminded me of a poem I recently unearthed while searching for something, which I wrote a long time ago, based on a conversation with some French-speaking guy – not the same one I refer to in Artichoke Heart (earlier blog).  I use the name “Chantelle” mainly because it rhymes so perfectly with “belle”, but apart from that, I used to be known as Chantelle in folk clubs back in the day!  As for him – appropriately enough – I have not the slightest recollection of his name!  I hesitated to publish this on my blog for a few reasons, including:  reluctance to reveal inaccuracies in my French (apart from poetic licence); reluctance to expose the fact that my poetic writing doesn’t stand alone without music!  Yes – I would have written this with the purpose of singing it in folk clubs – but fortunately (perhaps) I didn’t sing it anywhere!  So here it is!

Tu n’es pas belle, Chantelle

Il regardait mes yeux, et il me dit

Pourquoi, dis-moi, tu te pas maquilles?

Je répondis, c’est la moi réelle

J’ai pas besoin d’être trop belle

Mais tu n’es pas belle, il dit, Chantelle

Tu n’es pas belle, Chantelle


Tu n’es pas belle, Chantelle, Chantelle

Tu n’es pas belle, Chantelle

Je trouve que tu es laide, en effet

Tu rassembles un peu à Madame Thacher

Mais tu n’es pas belle, Chantelle, Chantelle

Sauf que t’es triste, Chantelle


Tu m’attires à cause de ton scent

Ton parfum, peut-être, ou ta lotion

Tes cheveux sont beaux, comme un bébé ta peau

Et tu es spéciale dans ton genre

Mais tu n’es pas belle, Chantelle, Chantelle

Sauf que t’es nue, Chantelle


La beauté se trouve dans ma famille

Ma mère, ma soeur – elle est très exotique

Mon père était beau, comme moi, ainsi

Je ne te plais pas?  Je dis oui

Car je savais la peine de:  tu n’es pas belle

Pense-pas que t’es belle, Chantelle


Et dans le miroir, l’image tout clair

Laide comme le péché, un visage sévère

La beauté à voir vient de dedans

Mais la beauté dedans peut fuire dans un moment

Non, tu n’es pas belle, je me dis, Chantelle

C’est vrai, t’es pas belle, Chantelle


Et dans le marché, et dans la rue

Les vendeurs de légumes, les vendeurs de fruits

La sueur qui tombe de leurs fronts comme ils crient

Pour que t’achètes pas de son voisin, mais lui

Tu n’es pas belle, j’entends, Chantelle

Pense-pas que t’es belle, Chantelle

Tu n’es pas belle, mais laide, tu sais

Tu rassembles un peu à Madame Thacher

Et tu n’es pas belle de tout, Chantelle

T’es laide et pas belle, Chantelle


M. Herman


Someone who read this blog commented:  “They’re both as vain as each other!”  After all, who on earth would say:  “J’ai pas besoin d’être trop belle“???  Well, me, apparently!  Many years ago, during a rare moment of vanity, perhaps.  Or a less rare moment of defiance against the obligation imposed on women to change themselves physically, such as wear make-up, in order to be socially acceptable or beautiful enough.  But trop belle for what?  I think, in fact that was not quite true:  I did feel the need, not d’être , but de sentir trop belletrop belle to be affected by those people who consciously or unconsciously try to undermine you:  through their own feelings of inadequacy, or jealousy.  Such as, to return to the opening of this blog, Mr “Can’t get it up unless you’re a slip of a girl!”  I think all women need to feel “trop belle“!