Today I’m not talking about life in Malta, moving to Malta or anything specific to this little island. Today I’m getting personal. Today I wanted to talk about the fact that I don’t wear perfume.
Now, if my Mum, or anyone who has known me for a long time, is reading this, they’ll either be laughing their asses off or screaming at the screen that I’m a liar. I used to wear perfume. And by ‘wear’ I mean ‘bathe in’. I had to have every new scent that came out, I’d spray 4 times before I left the house (one on the left wrist, then rub onto right wrist, one spray on either side of my neck and the final, fourth spray on my hair) and then always carry a bottle with me to top up multiple times a day. People could smell me coming. People would complain. To me. I KNEW the smell was overpowering but that’s just what I liked.
One year I became obsessed with finding my ‘signature scent’, one that if people caught a whiff of, they’d instantly think of me. So every time I travelled (and I travel a fair bit) I bought a new bottle. I ended up spending over €1000 in a year just on perfume. I did eventually find a scent that most felt like ‘me’ (Armani, Si, incase you’re interested) but at a huge cost and so much waste.
Then, one day, I met a man. Now, this is not about to become “I met a man and changed everything about myself for him” story. Been there, done that, won’t ever let it happen again. But he did inadvertently help me see something I hadn’t seen before.
He doesn’t like artificial scents. He doesn’t like heavily perfumed cleaning products, candles, fabric softener and he does not like perfume. He never told me to stop wearing it, or even to cut down, but he did let me know, as most people I met did, that I wore a LOT of perfume. I thought about it and I figured he was becoming very important to me so the least I could do is try and wear a little less so for a few days I laid off the perfume.
I already shower with unscented Sanex, as I have psoriasis that I have to keep at bay, then I use a fresh, cucumber scented deodorant and I was honestly so confused at the idea of not wearing perfume. Then, what will I smell like? Suddenly it dawned on me. I was worried about smelling like nothing. Of being nothing. Of going unnoticed. Of not being masked.
It only took a few days and I was seeing the world in a different light. I had been using perfume (and not just perfume, but I’ll get to that) to mask deeper insecurities. I was worried that I wouldn’t be memorable. But as the days turned to weeks, months and then a year, I realised how memorable one can be, when you take away all the fake shit, and how much better it is to be remembered for YOU and not for the way you smell or the thick eyeliner you layer on.
It didn’t take long until I became super sensitive to other peoples smell. Not their natural smell, because in this life you barely ever get to smell that. The smell of heavy perfume became unbearable to me. Now I sneeze any time a group of scented souls walk past. Not only this, I became a lot more comfortable in my own skin. I stopped obsessively straightening my crazy, curly hair. I stopped wearing foundation. I stopped looking in my compact mirror every 10 minutes and powdering my face. Yes, I still have oily skin but do you know what? Don’t dull that shine, girl! Rather an oily glow than layers and layers of powder becoming patchy and gross. I still wear makeup, because I enjoy the whole process (and who doesn’t love long, thick, lashes!) but now I use it to enhance, rather than cover.
These days, I’m at this place where I don’t have any of the shields I used to hide behind. The dead straight hair that I literally wore covering my face. The layers of foundation to hide the acne that had long since passed. The constant powder application to hide any hint of shine. The dousings of perfumes to make sure that someone remembered me because I had no confidence that someone could remember me for my constant hiccups, my love of country music, silly sense of humour, chattiness, curiosity, experience, knowledge. I felt like I had nothing to offer, so layered myself with artificial offerings.
I am not ‘anti’ perfume, or makeup, or hair dye, or straighteners but rather I am ‘for’ just being me and being comfortable with me. I might spritz myself every now and again, maybe some days I will still blow out the curls, but I don’t rely on any of this to feel “OK” any more.
All it took was one little scratch to see what was under the surface and all of those layers fell away and I saw myself. And truthfully, I am happier with that real me than I ever was with the versions I made up for everyone else.
I’m not saying that wearing perfume, or makeup, or dying or straightening your hair is bad. I’m not saying that because I stopped, you should too. All I’m saying is that if you are hiding behind anything (be it makeup, humour, whatever) then you don’t need to. You are so much more fabulous than you realise and once you are able to accept yourself a little bit more, you’ll stand a little taller, your eyes will shine a little brighter and everyone will love this new, real version of you.