When you Love something, you can’t help but talk about it, even if you feel embarrassed or reluctant doing so. That thing just comes up, and what happens next is key: you’re met with interest or disdain, to varying degrees. How people respond to what we love influences the relationships we have with those people, and perfume is a good barometer for finding out how others perceive you.
That perception comes to the forefront when the topic of perfume comes up. Perfume is sometimes viewed, by those who don’t know our generous and fraternal community, as a vain, selfish, frivolous, indulgence. As pointless luxury. As stinky chemicals. As (go ahead, fill in the blank). When the conversation comes up, as it inevitably will for you if you’re reading this blog, it’s an opportunity to have a peek at yourself through someone else’s eyes.
Is it our job to make people understand how a touch of beauty can lift our spirits? How a spritz can give strength to face a grueling day? How the unlooked for generosity from a fellow perfume lover can move you nearly to tears? Of the pure, unadulterated pleasure wrist-to-nose posture can bring? No, it’s not our job— but I do think that it provides an opportunity to improve the relationships with those around us, if we’re open to it.
29 thoughts on “Sharing the love”
So, so true! What a great post, dee. I think it’s such an important part of our lives that we can’t really conceal from the people closest to us and probably shouldn’t anyway. I do agree that it’s a good barometer. How could a loved one or true friend look down on us for something we love, whether they fully understand it or not? I still can’t get over that friend of Birgit’s who pronounced her passion, “vain”.
I have however wondered what people who aren’t close to me think, such as those who know me through my sister. Funnily enough she told me last night that people are always interested when she tells them about it. I must admit it was quite a relief (unless they are good actors!) because I imagined they’d think me odd or stop the conversation right there. I do think she does a good job of selling it though, as she is my biggest cheerleader!
Thank you Tara! (And I want to take a moment to apologize, to you and the rest of my thoughtful commenters, for the delay in response time!)
This topic is near and dear to my own heart, and has been for some time, but it took a while to think it through cohesively— right now I’m interested in the idea of how we perceive one another social, and while probably almost any topic would suit, perfume does seem to be a particularly good barometer.
It does not surprise me at all that people who know you through your sister are interested in your perfume habit; it would be hard to perceive you as anything other than sunny and generous! 🙂
Very thought-provoking. When I talk about fragrance with other people, I find myself watching anxiously for that flash of discomfort in their eye which tells me I’m wonking up the wrong tree. Luckily that seems rare, as most people have a connection to fragrance and seem to want to share it.
I have one friend who is sensitive/allergic to fragrance and who thinks it is INSENSITIVE of others to love it. She won’t even allow others to TALK about it in her presence without cutting them off with a curt reminder of her allergy. Even the WORDS used to describe fragrance seem to threaten her. On the other hand, I have a friend who used to be a fragrance SA & is now sadly anosmic. She LOVES to talk about fragrance even though she is 100% unable to smell anything– the vocabulary of scent still gives her joy!
I have experienced this too. It’s hard to balance having concern for someone’s health condition with defending your right to your own passion and hobby.
Yes, the flash!! It’s a squirrely-ness, and it makes me uncomfortable; fortunately, it’s been pretty rare for me too, though even when rare, still causes me to hold back more than I’d like (admiring Vanessa’s model big-time!).
Too bad about your friend! Seems a little weird, but maybe she’s just exhausted by getting to take her concern seriously. I know I write off “allergies” pretty easily, so it’s people like me that she’s subconsciously battling with you, lol 😉
Wonderful post, Dee!
This is a sensitive issue for me. (Which is why I took the whole afternoon to think
My family (not my husband) think such a passion is frivolous and, yes, vain. They only see the money spent. They don’t think it is or even can be important for some people. My sister in law says about my blog that never in her life would she think of doing some like “this”. Only drug dealing might be worse. Probably.
Then my best friend in real life, my maid of honor, is anosmic and has been from birth. She is not exactly the right person to share this part of my life with.
I share the beauty with those who I know understand it, all of you. Aside from this virtual world, I’m on my own…
Birgit, don’t listen to your SIL! It’s such a chrestomathic passive-aggressive behavior!
The question is “what is such a nice person like her is doing saying such nasty things to somebody in a family?” 😉
What a great way to put it! Thanks, Undina!
This is very sad, B. Not being interested is one thing but to act almost as if you are doing something shameful is quite another. You’d think they would admire your writing even if they didn’t care for the subject matter. They don’t know what they’re missing!
They don’t read what I write, so they have no idea whether I am able to write or not.
Thank you for being so supportive, T! xo
Thank you B!
It’s heartbreaking when someone see’s you as something that you are not, especially when you have so little control over that perception– and when you add perfume to that— something that gives us such community and delight— it’s unjust, that’s what it is.
On the other hand, it makes me supremely happy that M has become such an avid follower of your blog, and even supports the blog by encouraging full bottle purchases 😉
I LOVE your blog, it is one of the first ones I check on! I’ve always liked perfume, but most of them set off my grandmother’s asthma, so when I was growing up it was pretty much forbidden. However, her entire side of the family loved cloths and quality fashion, they couldn’t afford such things, so they learned to make them themselves. Now I am married to a man who I love very much, but became religious after we were already married, and his ideal woman is covered from the top of her head to her toes, with no form or definition showing. I am not a member of his religion, so I do not dress that way, but his reaction to the cloths I do wear has made me tone it down a lot. I feel frumpy a lot of the time, now, as well as a little resentful. Perfume came in to my life as a beautiful, unexplored revelation! Something that expresses colors and life and love and beauty! And I get to WEAR it. On my person! I feel so lucky for myself, and so sorry for all those people who only associate survival needs as necessities. Studies have shown that when we are surrounded by beauty, whether it be something beautiful to look at, touch, hear or smell, we automatically become more uplifted and optomistic. Anyway, sorry for the long post, but just wanted to let you and all the other bloggers I read to know how much I enjoy what you do! Thank you, Dee!
Whoa! Long and personal post, sorry!
No need to apologize! Perfume is a personal experience, and lends to personal sharing. I know I can speak for all of us, and we’re glad to have you 🙂
Wow, thank you so much Kimberly! I’m really glad that you are commenting, and glad to know that you are here 🙂
Living with someone who suffers from asthma would certainly curtail perfume exploration, but in a way it’s good that you can see and understand that perspective. It helps remind people like me to be considerate of my sillage when I leave the house!
Isn’t it amazing how comforting, and how beautiful a perfume can make you feel? No matter what you are wearing, or experiencing, perfume opens the door to new worlds more interesting and idyllic than our own 😉 a little taste of paradise for us to enjoy; I am so glad that you’ve found the uplifting and optimistic joy of perfume!
I must say I have approached this hobby with nothing less than missionary zeal almost from the very start. I do judge my moment, and which friends and neighbours and family members I talk to about the subject, but I have had great success at expanding the horizons of a number of people in my circle, partly within mainstream scents, partly niche, according to their taste and budget. It gives me vicarious pleasure to see them so pleased with a new discovery that is more “them” than anything they previously owned. ; – )
I love it! You are sharing the love in the very best way 🙂
Perfume is not discussed much in my circle of friends and family and on the whole, I suspect that perfume is not as widely worn in Australia as it may be other parts of the world. Australians may also have inherited a certain British diffidence in relation to talking about personal things like perfume. So I tend to keep rather quiet about my hobby.
But at work, I always make a point of admiring someone’s perfume (if I like it, I try and be honest!). This does not necessarily lead to a lengthy discussion about perfume, for the reasons mentioned above, but a warm conversation always ensues. People love having their taste admired. I rarely mention what I am wearing tho’. How do I explain to someone in a Kenzo fragrance, the name of which she cannot quite remember, that I am in vintage Miss Dior?
But I learn something too quite often out of these conversations. At the moment a colleague is wearing the Armarni Code given her by her partner for Xmas. l learned this after admiring it one day. I had to scratch around in my memory for info on this one, and realised that it is a mainstream perfume that perfume enthusiasts ignore or disdain.
But on her it smells gorgeous, and so like her personality – very fresh and pretty and light. And technically it may be a good perfume too in that it maintains this light, easy presence for quite a long time. It’s a good bit of work.
Can I just add dee that I adore that image you have chosen for this post. You are a genius!
“A warm conversations always ensues”
I love the way that perfume can bring people together— it is such a personal thing, yet it’s beauty stands apart from our person enough that we can safely admire it on one another.
That’s an interesting obsrvation about Armani Code: I’ve been having similar thoughts about how we wear and use perfume, and how perfume performs in the The Wild, and how sometimes there’s a breakdown between the two… Might be a good post topic!
I’m glad that you love the image! I love it too, because it’s so tender, yet so weird 😉
One way I try to get people to understand the hobby is comparing it to people who have wine as their hobby – it’s similar in many ways. It’s something that you can learn about, but is definitely complex and it takes a while to train your nose to tease out all the different notes in a perfume, just as with a wine. A lot of people seem to “get it” when I describe it in those terms.
There are definitely people out there for whom perfume is poison though, and there’s no getting around that issue for them.
Yes, I often compare it to food and wine. And restaurant and wine criticism is quite acceptable, so perfume criticism ought to be as well.
The wine parallel is fantastic— I agree that it helps people to understand the complexity, and the artisanal value behind perfumes.
Yes, those “perfume as poison” people are tough nuts to crack! Judicious use of Amarige in public would further our cause immensely… 😉
This is definitely a salient topic, Dee. I have not commented ’till now because I really do not know my own mind about it. On the one hand, I would love to be like Vanessa and able to help friends find perfumes they love outside their normal horizons. On the other, that’s not really a very “me” thing to do. I tend to keep quiet about it, and very very few of my friends even know about my interest, let alone know about my blog or how much time I spend on this hobby! Luckily, those that do are very supportive, even if they don’t “get” it. My mom, fortunately, has a love for scent, so we can always talk perfume, although her interest flags before mine does. 🙂
Expanding the horizons of those around us truly is a joy, if those around us are open to the experience! But it definitely is murky water to test, especially if it’s not something that’s occurring naturally. But it sounds like those around you accept it as part of who you are, and it’s awesome that your mom is a perfumista too!
It’s nice to have someone “in real life” to share your passion with, even if our online community is tight-knit and wonderful 🙂
I’m with Vanessa on this one. I’m constantly expanding my circle. Not to the extend to involve them in my hobby completely, but I don’t have a feeling that anybody thinks it’s strange. What helped is probably the fact that I was “into perfumes” long before I knew what “niche perfumes” meant. Knowing and owning mainstream releases, following new arrivals and being able to find some of them at online discounters weren’t that incomprehensible or threatening to my family, friends or co-workers. And by the time I dived deep into all that, everybody got used to it already.
So you were pretty much already established as a perfumista before the blog set in, eh? That doesn’t surprise me!
Being the Perfume enthusiast can be really rewarding; I love it when someone tells me they’re interested in finding a new fragrance, because it provides an opening to get to know the person a little bit better, and it’s a pleasure to share 🙂
I tend to be very open, it’s not easy for me to keep quiet about something I’m passionate about, so all my friends know about “the perfume thing.” Thankfully, they’ve never treated my interest with scorn, although they do find it quirky. (I’ve learned to try and tone it down, as I’m very talkative and eventually the eyes do start to glaze over.)
Just yesterday I wore Cuir Ottoman for the second time (wow that is good stuff!), and greeted all my friends with “You should smell me today, I smell fantastic!” They all just grinned and obligingly sniffed, but for CO every reaction I got was “Hey, that IS good! What is that?”
I seriously doubt any of my friends will ever follow me competely down the rabbit-hole, but I find myself more and more helping them find new fragrances, and have had “sniffing afternoons” at my home. It’s a satisfying thing to help someone feel beautiful. (My hairdresser loves getting tips in the form of perfume samples.;)
One friend approached me about a year ago to help her find a new signature fragrance, since her mother had gifted her SIL with hers, and she was feeling put out. She’s been converted to the idea of a perfume wardrobe, and now wears Shalimar, Pulp, Voile de Violette, Coromandel, and Black Orchid.
On the other hand, I don’t think my family knows at all. They don’t live close to me, and although I love them I learned a long time to to keep conversations to a pleasant, surface level. Perfume has never come up.
It’s so cool that your circle of friends has been integrated into the fold! Even if only on a small level— perfume sniffing parties? That’s amazing! Even if their eyes do eventually glaze over, it sounds like you’ve got an accepting, receptive circle of friends, which is really cool.
Helping someone find a new scent is exciting, isn’t it? I think it’s especially cool that she’s now sporting a “wardrobe,” and not relying on one scent for all occasions.
Family is another thing— I’m pretty sure most of my family (aside from mom and MIL) roll their eyes at my obsession. But I don’t let it get me down 😉