By Aaron Warga
Like any savvy college student, I scoped out Madame Bridaa on ratemyprofessors.com before I registered for her class. Students raved that she was “laid-back,” “chill,” “hilarious,” and “an amazing teacher!” I was obsessed with the idea of having a class in Healy Hall, which still has yet to happen, but hers was in Maguire which is basically the same thing right? Plus she got a flaming red pepper in the hotness section. I was sold.
I’ll admit I had a stereotyped image of French people in my mind, so I was caught off guard when she burst through the door with a cheerful “Bonjour!” What I expected: a short bob, eyes concealed by Dior shades at all times, reapplies her lipstick every 5 minutes, and wears heels when she sleeps. She bathes in Evian or Perrier because normal water simply isn’t French enough. When it’s time for le déjeuner, she whips out a five-star cheese plate from her Hermès bag and daintily nibbles at a few grapes. Then she smokes a cigarette, sips some red wine, and scowls at les américains that pass by. If she were a student here she’d wear Chanel to Snaxa, Yates, and Leo’s… but seeing as she subsists solely on brie and croissants she’d never be caught dead there.
Replace the bob with a mane of blonde curls, the Dior shades with a contagious smile, the heels an envy-inducing collection of Adidas, and the fancy cheese plate with a bag of Peanut M&M’s and voilà—I give you Boutheina Bridaa. I dare you not to adore her. Seriously, she’s the sweetest, spunkiest French professor you’ll ever have. She’s happy literally all the time, and not in the annoying way either. The first thing she did this semester was put on a Stromae music video and yell “Dansez! Dansez!” She wanted to have dance party on the 4th floor of Walsh—need I say more?
While Madame Bridaa is part of the French Department, she’s also busy slaying it in the style department (standup worthy content right here). She dons overalls (my kryptonite) with blazers and, of course, Adidas. She sports necklaces with giant fish and (I kid you not) Bob Marley on them, and it works! She’s also a fantastic teacher. I conducted this interview with her entirely in French, and I understood her and everything. Clearly she’s good at what she does. Sacre bleu I impressed myself.
Moi: “Where are you from?”
Madame Bridaa: “Tunisia, but I lived in Paris for quite a while before coming to DC.”
Moi: “What courses are you teaching this semester?”
Madame Bridaa: “Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, and Grammar & Writing.”
Moi: What does fashion mean to you?”
Madame Bridaa: “It’s a form of personal expression, it’s art!”
Moi: “How would you describe your style?”
Madame Bridaa: “It really depends on the day. It’s definitely not classic or traditional! I guess comfy and original.”
Moi: “What are your thoughts on the style of students here at Georgetown?”
Madame Bridaa: “There are some students who have really good, unique style. But in general, I see a lot of the same thing, I guess preppy. I’d like to see more eccentricity.”
Moi: “How has your style evolved?”
Madame Bridaa: “Oh it changes every year! I’ve acquired a collection of Adidas, and I wear different kinds of things depending on the occasion, if I’ve gained or lost weight, things like that.”
Moi: “How is fashion different in the US than in France?”
Madame Bridaa: “In places like New York, London, and Paris there’s such a variety and it’s really fun, but in D.C. it’s more homogenous. It seems like style can differ a lot across ethnic groups here, and I’ve noticed that a lot of African Americans have great style: they seem to have the eye for it, they start trends and they dare to try new things. In Paris it really depends on which arrondissement, or district, you’re in.”
Moi: “If your style was an arrondissement in Paris, which would it be and why?”
Madame Bridaa: “It would definitely be the 11th arrondissement! I lived there, and I love how ethnic, eccentric, young, and colorful it is. And I like to think that my style reflects it.”
*For those of you who aren’t familiar with Paris’ set up (because that’s common knowledge and all), the city is composed of districts, or arrondissements, that radiate outward in a spiral shape. The 11th arrondissement is known for being the home of youth, artists, and Parisians who are more on the, well, interesting side. I guess you could equate it to Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood, or cities like San Francisco and Portland.
Moi: “If you had to choose one word to describe your style, what would it be?”
Madame Bridaa: “Ahhh, I don’t know! Hmm, maybe casual-chic I guess?”
If you ever have the chance, take a class with Madame Bridaa, and I guarantee you’ll form a new french-ip (proud of this pun) with one of the coolest professors here!