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What’s your “signature scent?”

April 29, 2009

When shopping for my bodywash earlier this year, I was going through the various possibilities, sticking my nose under the cap of each, trying to decide what I wanted to smell like for the next couple of months. I picked up the current brand I was using, which doesn’t have a described scent, and asked my roommate what it smelled like and whether she liked it, she replied “I don’t know, it smells like you after you shower.” I decided to go with that one. Apparently, it’s my signature scent.

I think it is fascinating the emphasis on choosing a cologne or perfume that’s yours. You want people to associate you with that scent. A signature scent, in fact, nevermind that half a million other consumers in your demographic are wearing it. But our bodies already have a smell. Is there a reason bodies shouldn’t smell like bodies, armpits like armpits, and vaginas like *gasp* vaginas? What is wrong with a natural scent?

Oh wait, we are supposed to smell natural. We should smell like fruits, flowers, herbs, spices, even “woody”, but never like a human body. (It’s actually rare that I stop and smell the different possibilities, because I know what my favorite is: blue. Blue is normally “fresh rain” or “spring breeze”; I kind of like the idea of smelling like the weather.)

Signature scents also sold as a way to get back to our natural instincts, often as a tool of seduction. Axe, for example, puts its product rather disgustingly into a discourse of predator and prey. I know there is a lot of research out there on how our pheromones are related to our sense of attraction to others. Instead of allowing others to smell our natural scent however, we are told to cover it up and be ashamed of our natural bodies.

The way it smells is just another one of the areas in which we are told to control our bodies, to feel shame about how they operate, to normalize them. And, of course, to buy.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Andreas permalink
    April 30, 2009 5:21 PM

    This is a topic I’ve been mildly passionate about for years – ever since my peers in middle school (and onward) were obsessing over their body’s smells and I was completely apathetic, finding it a boring, superficial thing to worry about.

    I like all the sensory aspects of my body, and if anyone else – an individual or a corporation – doesn’t, well, it’s not theirs… so they can fuck off.

  2. cellardoor10 permalink
    May 2, 2009 10:25 AM

    I’m one of those crunchy, non-deodorant wearing kids who probably doesn’t shower enough, but I feel so liberated most of the time (I also have no idea where my deodorant is). I’ve never been a fan of people who hate feet or hate the way people smell. I also don’t have a super amazing sense of smell, which may have something to do with it …

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