This is not a piece about the raging gender debate or a political rant about how pissed-off I am about Hillary Clinton being denied the Democratic presidential nomination. At this particular moment in time, I am interested in Girl v. Woman from a purely fragrant standpoint, and it goes no further than that.
What is it that differentiates a “girlie” or “girlish” smell from a “womanly” smell? And further to that, when is it appropriate to smell like a girl, or to smell like a woman? I´ve read countless entries in the perfume blogosphere and on the message boards about what constitutes “girlie”, “girlish” and “womanly.” I will not even touch the “old lady” moniker since prevailing opinions are that “old lady” is an unflattering description of a scent comprised of face powder, roses and, well, age. I think I have an abundance of life left ahead of me sufficient to tackle that one at a much later date.
Of course, marketing and advertising has much to do with these labels. A woman is expected to adapt to her advancing years by changing her style of clothing, cutting her hair to a certain length, and adjusting her makeup and skincare routines in order to correspond with her age bracket. The same can be said of fragrance, as is illustrated by the print ads we see in all the magazines. It is obvious that scents like Yves Saint Laurent Elle, Miss Dior Cherie and the entire Ralph Lauren “Ralph” line target the late teen/early twenties age range, and more “mature” offerings like Vera Wang´s signature scent, and Estee Lauder´s Beautiful, are marketed to appeal to a woman who has arrived at the “marrying” age. The rest seem to fall into chronological ambiguity, thanks to advances in digital photo-retouching, rendering pitchwomen Sarah Jessica Parker, Nicole Kidman and Elizabeth Hurley stunningly ageless. We can certainly smell like them if we choose to, but realistically, the vast majority of us cannot PhotoShop away the marching of time across our faces and bodies.
So, where does that leave me – a woman of 41? I´ve certainly made a few appropriate concessions in the wardrobe, makeup and skincare areas, and consider myself fairly well preserved for my age. I wear sunscreen year-round; utilize a vast array of anti-aging skin care products, and haven´t smoked a cigarette since high school. Right now, I refuse to consider indulging in any cosmetic procedure, be it Botox or collagen, or any of the other poisons some women choose to get injected with in the name of vanity. I am too big of a wimp to even contemplate any future surgical procedures; I have never been under general anesthesia for anything and I hope to keep it that way.
As for the fragrance issue, I prefer not to attach the “girl” or “woman” labels to anything I wear. Yes, I enjoy scents that are considered “girlie” and those that are “womanly”. I base this not on what the blogs or message boards say, but on my own opinions. Some days, I am in the mood for a scent that is fresh and slightly fruity – but not fruity in the syrupy sweet way a lot of the celebrity scents are. I like Marc Jacobs Daisy, even though I am 20 years past the targeted demographic. It gets the job done on a pleasant spring day, and does not offend when the temperature shoots up to sweltering. Plus, the bottle is so darn cute; who can resist those vinyl daisies? Lately, I´ve been drawn to Bond No. 9 Coney Island, maybe because of the graphic of a futuristic Astroland from March´s Dior Addict post from Monday. Although, I don´t remember that area smelling anything like margaritas and clean ocean air. It was always redolent of dead fish, garbage and Nathan´s hot dogs. Fifi Chachnil is another favorite I like to wear on occasion, but please don´t cue up Aretha Franklin on my account. I love the tobacco smokiness combined with rose and a nice bite of citrus in the background. A lot of fragrance aficionados consider Fifi a very womanly scent, but I don´t buy into the categorization. Lostmarc´h Lann-Ael is one that I keep around for those days when smelling like sugary breakfast cereal is what I need to make it through a stressful day. I´ve been getting into more iris-based scents lately, and really dig Guerlain´s Iris Ganache and Prada´s Infusion d´Iris. What categories do these scents fall into? Honestly, I have no clue, nor do I care. I wear them when the mood strikes, rather than when I want to evoke feelings of girlishness or womanliness. For me, it´s the scent, not the label. If we paid more attention to how we feel, instead of letting the marketing powers-that-be pigeonhole us into specific categories, we´d all be much happier.
Some days, the girl trumps the woman and vice versa. Nothin´ wrong with that!