Does This Fragrance Make Me Smell Fat?
by, 14th September 2011 at 04:23 PM (3534 Views)
So some dudes on Basenotes have occasionally used the phrase "old man's fragrance." I read this, and I think, "Wow, this expression is carrying an awful lot of freight!"
What do I mean by that? Well, I mean that there are a lot of unconscious assumptions behind this statement. Maybe I should detail some of these, first of all, just for fun, but secondly, to deconstruct some unexamined ideas that show some pretty shocking attitudes — attitudes that people wouldn't want to be putting out there if they knew the impression they were making with them.
First there is the idea that somehow "old men" are less cool than younger men. That's kind of like saying that women aren't as cool as men, or that ethnic minorities aren't as cool as white folks, or even (how do you like it if I turn this around?) that young guys aren't as cool as older guys. Bigoted ideas are kind of like packs of wolves: where you find one, you often find a whole bunch. So where I hear one kind of prejudicial assumption, I suspect there are others lurking about. The thing is, I don't think people who put down one unpopular group realize that they are showing their probable general disregard for the dignity of others. In fact, I think that they would deny that they are prejudiced at all. Yet, I think others see that pretty clearly.
Secondly, they reveal their susceptibility to the manipulation of marketers, who want consumers to believe that the new scents are better than older ones — because obviously (duh!) the really cool folks have the latest stuff, and only the old fogeys still buy stuff that the cool kids don't want any more. This is pretty obvious, isn't it? Well, it is if you ignore the fact that the new stuff is made from cheaper materials, that it was rushed to market to save money on development, and that most of the money that was spent on it (and now has to be recouped) was spent on marketing intended to dupe the gullible.
Now I'm not saying that everything old is good or everything new is bad; that's simply not true. Still, if you think about it, the trends in fragrance are in the direction of downgrading quality and overemphasizing marketing images to get the advertising budget back.
Another thing about the "old man" assumption is that it reveals the purposes that people assume for using fragrance. It kind of says that scents have the function of creating an image for the wearer, rather than being a measure of the wearer's taste and sophistication. Now, I think we all consider the effect our choice of fragrance has on others, but I still believe that I mostly choose what I wear because I think the stuff I wear shows that I know what's intrinsically good and well-crafted, rather than because I think "chicks dig it" or it makes me "smell cool." These assumptions about how my selection affects others are, I think, not well-founded in reality. First of all, most people don't even notice what others wear. To think otherwise is, I'm afraid, rather naïve. Whatever may convince a romantic target to decide to concede physical affections is based on many more factors than the notion that the suitor "smells cool." In my experience, men seem to give considerations of superficial appearance and impressions more importance than women generally do. But, of course, it takes all kinds to make a world...
Lastly, looking for security in the protection of the crowd marks one as relatively insecure in one's own personal merits or as not having a grounded belief in one's own ideas, especially where these may run counter to the common stream. A person who is overly concerned with following popular trends sometimes reveals himself to others as being anything but his "own man."
Well, there are probably other debunkable assumptions behind the notion that fragrances are tied to the age group of the wearer. I'm sure there are also other ways in which people who consider such things may be revealing themselves to be rather shallow or relatively unconscious of the significant concerns of others. On the whole, such things are not pleasant to write about, so I think I'll leave off for now.
I'll just say that it might be a worthy thing to consider what one reveals about oneself when one expresses these kinds of casual opinions, namely, those that put down others.
The best thing about being young and naïve is that it's a temporary disease, and that most people have a chance to recover from it. On reflection, I think I could put it this way: For me, growing up didn't end when I reached age 18; in fact, at that age growing up had barely just begun.
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