Take Back the Term: FRAGRANCE

Written by Rachel B January 31, 2019

Fragrance, from the Latin fragrans, stemming from the Romantic- fragro, both meaning “sweet- smelling, emitting an odor”  which pulled from the Old Germanic braehen, “to smell”, and “hound, setter”.....

Already embedded within the meaning of the word ‘fragrance’ is the notion of sniffing something out. Since the Sacred Bitch is my spirit animal, I’m on the scent of ‘fragrance’. Fragrance piques my sense of curiosity and discovery mostly because of the way this word is used within the context of “body care” products as the proverbial rug in which to sweep nasty things under. Fragrance sounds harmless enough, but honey- let me tell you- ‘fragrance’ on the ingredients list of a product is a highly deceiving word for ‘poison we don’t want to disclose’. And for what?

I was one of those teens who rocked CK One HARD. I doused myself in it, on top of using Herbal Essence, remember that shampoo? ...the one advertising women having smellgasims in the shower? I also washed my clothes with Tide, because I liked the ‘clean’ smell. Around the same time, I had a spell of using scented tampons.

The memory frightens me. Not only was I layering toxic, endocrine disruptors on my still growing body DAILY, I was inundating my sensitive sense of smell- overpowering and therefore shutting down this most ancient and subtle of senses. In retrospect, the saddest part of it all- is that these products targeted a shamed place in me that thought I needed cover the natural smell of my body.

These days, the strong smell of laundry detergent nauseates me- cloying perfume, the kind that hangs in air after someone leaves, that you can taste in your mouth- gives me a headache, I have to cross the street if I’m walking behind a dude wafting cologne.

Still from Tega Brain's, Smell Dating, 2016 New York

Part of the olfactory offense is that I love scents. Subtle scents, the kind naturally emitted by plants, people, places and animals give us so much information. Scent is literally communication.

So F ‘fragrance’!

The cocktail of chemicals underneath the F word literally throw a wrench into hormonal symphony of your body. Autoimmune issues, hormonal imbalances, allergies and asthma have been traced back to the effects of these chemicals on our bods. Don't forget that our body uses chemistry to communicate (that's what hormones do!). Saturating our system with hormone disrupters is like a sitting next to a person during a subtle art film who is having a WhatsApp, speaker phone, convo with their hard of hearing Aunty....BUT YOU CAN'T GET UP AND MOVE AWAY.


Let’s wake up to this poison, people! ‘Specially because you can have your cake and eat it too by rocking plant based scents!

Take back the term ‘fragrance’ from the clutches of deception and toxicity! Let fragrance, once again, be a word that prompts us to follow our nose!