American men perk up when my mom reveals in conversation that she's French. They whip out their favorite French phrase: "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?" and pretend not to know what it means. Fortunately, I speak English with an American accent, so I can keep my je ne sais quoi on the down low.

The mythical figure of the French girl looms large (but in, like, a slender way) in the American aesthetic consciousness. She's an icon of grace and style, like Audrey Hepburn, except she gets dudes more hot and bothered. Hence the kilogrammes of advice prodding American women to be more like the nymphs wandering around Paris with their immaculately done-undone hair flowing out from under their berets. But I'm here to tell you la vérité. Let's deconstruct, shall we?

Emily Lever is a French-American writer who wishes she led a life of adventure. You can follow her on Twitter here.

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