Perfume as a tool to counter toxic positivity

'Perfume can serve as a grounding counterbalance: allowing us to confront the complexity of our emotions; and alchemise our shadow into strength.'

Toxic positivity is a phenomena known to increase feelings of subjective inadequacy in us.

You know - people that post only good vibes on Instagram that make the rest of us feel a little sick to the stomach that their lives are so 'perfect'. That pervasive tone of #blessed is the very thing that's driving the rest of us, with 'normal lives', to drink.

Perfume as the antidote

In a fascinating piece posted on Dazed's website - Lily McGonigal goes into an exploration as to how perfume is fast becoming a powerful, invisible tool to repel the world rather than attract it.

Perfume can act as a channel through which we can access the darker sides of our personalities - the shadows of who we are, to bring some kind of personal balance to the sickly sweet, fake-reality that infects social media and society lauds.

Scent has a remarkable knack for stirring our emotions and memories. A faint trace of smoke machine fog can transport you back to the sticky dancefloors of your first night out; a whiff of a stranger’s aftershave on the Tube can have you grappling with the sting of an old heartbreak. But what if scent could do more than just make us reminisce? What if fragrance holds the power to not only unlock our emotions, but assist us in navigating them? 
In the past, plenty of “feel-good fragrances” alluded to the emotional benefits of perfume through soppy campaigns of girls frolicking in flower fields. But today, a host of avant-garde perfumers are challenging the misconception that mood-focused perfumes need only be associated with positivity. Instead, their creations aim to explore our full spectrum of feeling; delving into the darker recesses of our psyche, and triggering emotions we may have long buried.

The best quote from the piece is a question that was posted on the r/fragrance subreddit on Reddit which asked for recommendations on which perfumes may help access the dark self:

I want to smell like I villain. I want to smell so evil and poison and provocative and lustful and powerful and murderous that merely a whiff would make a man’s asshole pucker when I walk by. Not witchy…. Not like I cast spells…. But like a black widow or a praying mantis…. You know….. really evil and absolutely undeniable.

Our take-out

Our modern societies are designed to force people to conform.

Our schooling systems train children to become uniform workers in a world that values STEM subjects above all else and encourages individuals to merely behave as viable economic actors contributing to sterile metrics of human prosperity like GDP growth.

But inside we're all freaks.

We're all a bit dark when nobody is watching. We play Sisters of Mercy loudly in the car when we're alone and find pleasure in telling somebody we don't really like to go fuck themselves when they're out of earshot.

Ignoring our shadows inevitable leads to depression - so perhaps embracing and fully exploring this side of ourselves (through enablers like perfume) is an important part of the maintenance of our mental balance.

You can read the whole article on the Dazed site here.


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