Ta-Nehisi Coates, a writer for The Atlantic, is spending the summer in Paris. His most recent “dispatch” looks at cultural differences between the US and France starting with how Paris requires effort:
There are stairs everywhere and the stairs are all but mandatory. In America the stairs are off to the side, and the elevator is prominent. Often, it’s the reverse here — the stairs are out front and often beautifully wrought. It almost feels sinful to take an elevator.
Re Parisians and weight, Coates notes (emphasis mine):
Before I came here, so many people told me, “There are no fat people in Paris.” But I think this misses something more telling. There are “no” stunningly athletic people either. There just doesn’t seem to be much gusto for spending two hours in the gym here. The people don’t seem very prone to our extremes. And they are not, to my eyes, particularly thin. They look like how I remember people looking in 1983. I suspect they look this way because of some things that strike me — the constant movement, the diet, the natural discomfort — are part of their culture.
I’ve been meaning to dig into Bruce Alexander’s The Globalization of Addiction for a while now. Alexander’s premise is that “societal determinants” of addiction are more powerful than individual tendencies. It’s interesting to consider the idea that the prevalence of “stunningly athletic” or “particularly thin” people might be a negative influence rather than a positive one.
HT Melissa McEwen.