• Rebecca Jane Salinas

Perfume, Internet Girls, and Me


When you learn something your brain wrinkles. I often wonder how I learned something. How do I know if my brain has developed a new fold? How do I know I am not zooming past information? Am I getting any life lessons, is this all nothing to me? As I drive in my car with my roommate we talk about our romantic interests. While we speak the ad for Yves Saint Laurent’s Black Opium perfume continuously plays between songs. Both of us laugh about it, but we’ve been doing everything recently to be considered more attractive. For her this pursuit has led her to buy every skincare and hair product she can find. On my side I have begun buying makeup, dyeing my hair, and compiling a list of every perfume I think can transform me into the person I want to be. In this case the person I want to be needs to smell amazing… at least that is what I like to tell myself. The first perfume I was ever given was called Joy. The bottle was in the shape of a bag, and the perfume color was yellow. It was most likely bought at a swap meet because that is the only place I can picture the person that gave me the perfume, my uncle, shopping. It smelled of baby powder, and was great at covering up the smell of dirty clothes if I couldn't clean. However, it isn't exactly desirable to smell like that, so I gave the bottle to my mom who sprays herself with liquid talcum happily. Since then I periodically go to the Macy’s perfume counter. I endure the fumes entering my lungs due to overzealous sales ladies using perfume as if it were agent orange, to wonder who I am and what scent would represent my life. I think I’m trying to exploit my femininity through scent. It has become a way to express myself and make up for the parts of me I feel aren't girly enough. Perhaps I am subconsciously comparing myself to the girls I see online. The girls I see online are constantly being told that they are pretty. If they post a picture of themselves crying, people flood their comment section with comfort, “You’re so pretty, don’t let people get to you, don’t spend your life worrying about them, you deserve the world.” I’m sure that girl has never been awkward the way I am, I’m pretty sure she has always been deemed cool. I want people to adore me the way they adore her. I want to have her hair, I want to have her body, and I want to have her clothes. I try to do what she does, I try to shut down the little me that wonders if this is what I want. Last summer one of the internet girls I became obsessed with was Alexa Chung, a model and fashion designer. It isn’t long before I begin to search online for the perfume she wears. I discovered that her favorite is Santal 33 by Le Labo, and I decided to order a sample. When the sample came I opened the sample bottle in excitement believing I was going to be luxurious wearing it, however, the first thing I smelled was the waft of pickle juice. It didn’t make sense to me that the liquid smelled like pickles, if a beautiful person likes it why would it smell disgusting? I sniffed again and accidentally spilled some of the perfume on my hands, soon the pungent smell became more pervasive in the room I was in. The pickle incident motivated me to stop searching for perfumes. I had tried Molecule 01 days before that incident and decided then that it would do. It made me smell crisp, and didn’t feel overpowering. Most importantly I was the only person I knew that would wear it. It was easier for me to pick something I could make my own. Yet, as an unemployed college student, I didn’t have the money to splurge on the purchase, the person that did was my dad. “Do you mind buying me a perfume for Christmas?” I asked him over the phone. I knew he would agree. I knew he was going to be happy. For years he had been wanting me to wear perfume, even though I had been searching for the perfect scent I never actually wore any, I decided years before that wearing one would be picking an identity. That mentality was gone by this time, I found it ridiculous all I wanted was to be free to be myself. Beauty items could be a minor background to my life. Now whenever I see myself in the mirror I always find myself staring, because I'm always surprised at who I am. I have found myself evolving. In the beginning of my search for perfume I was so clueless about who I was, and kept on trying to find myself through a specific smell. I now believe that perfume isn't something I am aspiring to be, or a representation of me, but my shadow. It is always with me, not at the forefront, but as my complement. photo via Pinterest