Friday, June 02, 2006

Skin Color, Ph and Fragrance

The Fragrance Foundation isn't alone in suggesting suitablility of scent families based on people's skin color. I found a perfume blog which broke down the color-coding to blonde, brunette, redhead and black-haired. Guess which people are best suited to wear the heavy Orientals? The darkest people, of course, and this time, they also listed the heavy florals such as tuberose as being "suitable" for black-haired people (and even though this generalization hurts, I'm not about to forgo my white florals--I'm not that crazy--but I am turned off to Oriental scents for the time being).

The way they explain how they find "suitability" is actually based on an unproven, unscientific method which is ultimately based on a theory that because darker haired people (with darker skins--it really comes down to the skin color) are proven to be oilier than true blondes and redheads and thereby making lighter skins more alkaline and darker (oilier) skins acidic, acidic people should wear alkaline scents and vice versa. Here's the unproven part of it all: how do you prove what smells better? Isn't the dry down of a perfume, or even our perception of which perfumes smell good, subjective to a large degree? Where is the study that shows that all dark people smell better wearing spices and resins than citrus or chypre?

In truth, my own mother and I don't smell alike nor do we agree on the same fragrances. They say Guerlain L'Heure Bleue was created for blondes and Mitsouko for brunettes (way back in the days of segregation--but then again, this is Paris we're talking about). I don't like Mitsouko but my mother does. I prefer L'Heure Bleue. So, I don't want to hear about "most people"--I am one person with particular skin chemistry and individual taste, and I strongly dislike being stereotyped because it makes me feel insignificant and unworthy of wearing certain scents I love--unfit because I'm supposedly too oily to wear any flower that isn't tropical (sexual).

Furthermore, ph skin color-coding fragrances is sexist. Why should we continue to perpetuate the notion that dark people are more sexual beings or that blondes are dumber, redheads are...I don't know, something about being complex, but they're all labels to keep women from being anything more than these stereotypes. I guess it's all in fun for people who like to be told where they fit in. I have never liked that, so maybe that's why I rebel against the notion of scent typing. But it's deeper than that. Stereotyping and being stereotyped actually hurts me on the inside in a way I can't even fully express.

The whole unproven theory is as useful as Color Me Beautiful--not at all for those of us who are all black-haired and can really only look one way--Ethnic. There is no variation for us.