Paris makes me want to suck in my gut.
As you walk around the city, you can’t help but notice that there aren’t many overweight people here. Everybody, regardless of their age, seems to be thin, stylishly dressed, and moving fast. The contrast with America, where you see seriously obese people everywhere, is startling.
Why is this so? Maybe it is because more Parisians seem to smoke than Americans — at least, that’s the impression I get after a few days here — or maybe it is because food is expensive, and people have cut back a little on the chow-downs as a result. More likely, it is because this is a city of walkers and cyclists. On weekdays, you see people hustling down the streets to get to work or riding their bikes as part of their daily commute. My guess is that few Parisians follow the American model of going to their garage in the morning, hopping in their car, and then driving to a parking garage a block away from their workplace, where they will sit on their butts all day.
I also think there is a strong social disapproval of being overweight — implicit, perhaps, but nevertheless a factor. Everyone here wears fashionable clothing, from hats down to shoes. If you want to join everyone else and be part of the haute couture parade, you’ve got to keep the weight off. It’s hard to look stylish, and Parisian, if you are hauling around an extra 60 pounds.