The Ugly History of Beautiful Things: Perfume

Longreads

Katy Kelleher | Longreads | September 2018 | 15 minutes (3,859 words)

If given the choice to smell like whale excrement or delicate white flowers, few people would chose the first option. Bile, feces, vomit, and animal oils sound as though they would smell repulsive. The words conjure up scent memories of that time your dog released his anal glands on the duvet, or that summer you worked by the wharf and the August air was thick with the miasma of oily herring heads. Jasmine, on the other hand, sounds like a love song, a Disneyfied dream. Try, right now, to imagine the smell of blooming jasmine. Your memory, ill-equipped to locate scents in its baroque filing system, might pull up something syrupy sweet or softly floral. Is that how you want your body to smell?

Too bad: if you choose door number two, you’ll walk away reeking of sharp…

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