Rant with EauMG – “Mean Girl” Perfumes


Like many people, I absolutely hated high school. In fact, I absolutely hated ALL school for its conformity and norms. It was not a positive experience for me. And as soon as I got out, I never thought about it. I moved on…or at least I thought I did.

Over the years, I’ve had issues with certain perfumes and certain notes for “no real reason”. I thought it was mostly a preference thing. And then it hit me after a long rant about my hatred for Vanilla Fields, that I only hated this perfume because of associations that I had with it. Vanilla Fields was one of the “mean girl” perfumes.

What is a “mean girl” perfume? 

These are the perfumes that dominated the social hierarchy that can only exist and thrive in something as institutional as a school environment (and well, prison, but no perfume in prison). These were the perfumes chosen by relational aggressors. And of course, since junior high and high schools are such micro eco-systems, these will vary from era to era and from geographic location to geographic location.

Join me today while I confront my Mean Girl perfume issues.

The perfumes that remind me of “girl hate”:

Coty Vanilla Fields – Popular stuff in junior high with a crowd of wannabe Heathers. And really, even back then during that terribly awkward time, I was like, “You guys suck at being Heathers“. So really my deal with Vanilla Fields isn’t even that it sucks but that it was so “vanilla” and conforming to me, that I didn’t like it. I was like “Ugh, boring people that wish they were important wear this dimestore shit“. So, yes, I have a negative association with Vanilla Fields.

Bath & Body Works Sweet Pea – I hate this fragrance so hard. This screechy fruity-floral has ruined every sweet pea accord for me. Forever. And peony. This smells like freshman gym locker rooms. And when I was 15, I got chickenpox which kicked my ass and hospitalized me and put me out of school for a few months. I had to go back to school with f’n crusted lesions looking like I time-traveled out of the damn Middle Ages because I was told I couldn’t miss anymore school (because you know you can totally fake viral encephalitis). And then to top it off, I had to take P.E. while recovering from all of this. Like taking P.E. in high school isn’t terrible enough for any self-conscious teen?! I would change clothes in a stall (totally embarrassed by my healing body) and the mean girls would totally bully me because of this, because yeah, it’s cool to make fun of unhealthy people. Anyway, between the verbal harassment and the creation of rumors, they’d spray B&BW Sweet Pea. Fuck Sweet Pea.

Narciso Rodriguez for Her – When I was out of school and had my first shitty job while going to school full-time – in college and rather confident, I was knocked down by the manager from Hell. A grown-ass woman that wished she was a mean girl back in the day, wore this musky perfume. I couldn’t get over that a grown woman could still have so much resentment and girl hate still lingering around from her bullied past. This was actually when I decided to completely forget and let go of all of that adolescent bullshit and move on. NO MORE GIRL HATE! I didn’t want to be like this miserable, angry managerial monster. And that’s exactly what I did….or at least I thought I did until I tried NR years and years later and was like “icky” and hate it. Then I realized my response wasn’t to the perfume but connected to a person, a person that I hope has finally forgave, found self-love and moved on with their life.

Well, that was really therapeutic. I don’t want you guys to get the impression that I’m some bitter grown-up still thinking about events and people from a million years ago, because I don’t. I’m a very happy adult. It’s just that I realized that even though I live in the “now” and think about the future that I can’t underestimate the power of past scent associations (let’s save the exes’ perfumes for another day…) We can have aversions to certain perfumes and predominate notes from certain perfumes because they can consciously and subconsciously remind us of negative people. I feel like by talking about this, I can really move on with my perfume hang-ups.

This does not mean that I’m going out and wearing Vanilla Fields or B&BW Sweet Pea, because that’s some cheap, nasty shit that grown, confident Victoria isn’t even going to get near. I’m too busy wearing fancy-ass perfumes. But, I now can “logically” explain to you why I hate Vanilla Fields and notes like sweet pea and peony.

Since this was therapeutic for me and you “listened” (thank you), let’s dedicate this post to the freedom from some of our olfactory hang-ups. I know I’m not the only person that has negative associations with “mean girl” or “mean boy” fragrances. Share. Let it out. Move on. It feels good.

Now spray on the fanciest perfume in your collection. Because you f’n deserve to smell like a million bucks.

Love Yourself

*”Heathers” pic from The Atlantic. Text, mine.

21 thoughts on “Rant with EauMG – “Mean Girl” Perfumes

  1. OMG Vanilla Fields! I HATED that smell–I thought it cloying and sickeningly sweet and fake, like the “fake nice” front some girls put on while they were talking shit about others behind their backs. YUCK. It put me off vanilla ANYTHING (other than the sort you cook with) until I was in my thirties.

    1. OMG! Totally. It’s that total “fake nice/sweet” scent. And that was this group of girls. The problem was their shit-talking game was no good. I’m sure they improved in high school 😉 But, yeah, they were the group that the teachers and parents wouldn’t believe they were mean because “they were sooo sweet!”. Um, no. These girls wanted to be mean and that’s mean.

      Same here. It took me over a decade later to even want to smell anything vanilla! And then I learned that it isn’t a bad note if it is done right, it can even come across as tobacco at times, or balsamic. Vanilla is much more complex than what Vanilla Fields wanted us to believe.

  2. I really didn’t enjoy high school either, so I quite enjoyed the read. It’s not something I think about often either, but when the memory does surface, I can’t help but cringe or scowl. What was really funny about the post is that you listed all the perfumes I had a love affair with at some point or another. To me, they were small comforts during not so great times. Speaks to the popularity and reach of those scents.

    I do have to say though that one whiff of Tommy Girl would make me want to punch the wearer in the face. 😉

    1. I do want to say that it isn’t Vanilla Fields or Sweet Pea’s fault for being so accessible and affordable. It was just that this group of bullies wore it. They could have worn anything else from the era – Tommy Girl, Victoria’s Secret Love Spell, etc. And like you said, you think about high school and it’s like “ugh” so I smell these and go “ugh”.

      And I like Tommy Girl but I couldn’t revisit that one until like last year. I associated it with annoying people. But, really it’s a great composition…and you don’t ever have to wear it 🙂

  3. Haha!This rant is exactly why we love you and your blog soooo much Victoria!
    I Have a “Mean-Boy” rant to add:There was this macho rugby-playing dude in school.He bullied everyone,even his parents and his so-called friends.And he wore BLUE STRATOS.bucketloads at a time.You smelled him before you saw him!I’ll always associate Blue Stratos with him,therefore I LOATHE the scent!

    1. Blue Stratos just sounds like a “mean boy” cologne! At least you could smell him before you see him, gives you some time to run! 🙂

  4. I have two scents associated with high school–one is chlorine overwhelming, because I was a competitive swimmer, and the other is “cucumber melon,” because that seemed to be all the rage in the late 90s & early 2000s. I don’t hate cucumber melon, though it’s always stuck me as incredibly bland, so I tend to avoid it for that reason. Also a sniff of it takes me right back to being ~15 years old, an awkward, mostly-unpleasant time I’m not eager to relive, haha!

    1. I sort of like the smell of chlorine, would never fly in a perfume but hey, I like it.

      Cucumber melon is so bland…and so “functional” too. Always reminds me of shampoo or stick deodorants.

  5. This reminds me that my class reunion is coming up. I hated middle school and high school. I think this is the reason I couldnt stand tuberose (Georgio Beverly Hills and Fracas) or Orientals (Opium, Poison, Magie Noire) because some rich snobby girls (who I’m sure had self esteem problems) wore these. I can finally wear these thanks to bloggers who wiped all bad frag memories from my mind (this award goes to EauMG, Scents of Self, Portia at APJ and The Perfume Candy Boy). thanks for the detox.

    1. Oh…are you going? I don’t think I’ll ever go. And now with things like Facebook and just a good Google search, you can find out all you wanted to know, lol.

      I was talking to a cousin that is 5 years older than me and grew up in a different geographic location. She has major tuberose issues because of Giorgio and Poison, which were the “mean girl” scents of her school. And those are sooo strong. Teens have a tendency to overapply and overapplying any of those is lethal! Anyway, maybe I can talk her into trying a more modern tuberose…there are plenty of good ones out there 🙂

      1. Yes! You list some nice ones in your blog that are non-threatening (no mean girl attitude). Yes, I’m going to my class reunion. I went to the 10 yr reunion and it was very cathartic. I only recognized I few people and those people were the ones I enjoyed spending time with at the back table. 🙂 it was very Romy and Michelle, but in a good way.

  6. I laughed out loud over this, but I have to say that you’ve hit on a really important point. Obviously, we all have fragrance-to-wearer associations, but I never really thought it about it in terms of school.

    I didn’t think I had any specific fragrance memories from middle and high school. On reflection, it could be because:
    -No one was wearing anything, because we were in a place more remote than ‘Out in the Sticks’. OR
    -It was all Love’s Baby Soft or something. (I’m an oldie; we graduated in ‘84.) OR
    -We all wore tons of stuff, so we experienced a generalized ‘fume cloud all the time?
    Me? I was wearing Coty Wild Musk Oil. And Gloria Vanderbilt. (I started to say ‘rocking’, but we wouldn’t have said it that way. So you know, Historical Accuracy.) The guy I dated senior year wore Stetson. I’m starting to remember a LOT of Stetson. Huh. The third option above might be the winner.

    But it does make me wonder about some of my prejudices. For example, vanilla on my skin makes me absolutely, unreasonably angry. Screwiest response ever.The smell grows exponentially, along with my need to eradicate it. Maybe I’ll blame the Mean Girls.

    1. Hmm…all 3 could be possible, I felt like I went to a school of oversprayers. I feel bad for (some of) those teachers that I had to smell us all day. The Coty Musks are amazing, often forgotten because they are associated with our younger years, but still really good stuff. Many niche brands try hard to sell us those Coty Musks for more!

      Blame it on Mean Girls. You never know, maybe you are associating with someone, some time, some place unpleasant? Or you could just find vanilla annoying, and that’s understandable too. It can be so cloying.

  7. Although I was a good bit younger when I went to high school (OK, ALOT younger), I hated those three years with a passion. My idea of hell would be to repeat those 3 horrendous years for all eternity. My graduating class had about 950 people in it, so you can imagine that there was an endless supply of mean girls, and I do mean NASTY bitches. I can’t remember any “mean girls” perfumes per se, but my gym teacher wore Revlon Aquamarine and I hated her like poison. That smell always brought back bad memories of Phys. Ed. For myself, I was already a perfume freak by the time I was 15, and the popular perfumes at the time were Max Factor Hypnotique, Millot Crepe de Chine (G-d, how I miss that!), Revlon’s Intimate, and my personal favorite, Youth Dew, which I still adore since it lasts forever in the bottle and I still have the vintage bath oil. Unfortunately, the corporate suits at Lauder screwed up my Youth Dew EDP and now it’s awful, sharp and screechy.

    1. More scent reminders of P.E.? Uck.

      I have a bath oil of Youth Dew from the early 60’s. It’s marvelous. And my bottle of Youth Dew is from the 90’s. I’m actually surprised by how similar they are considering the 30+ years difference. I haven’t sniffed a new bottle though. They mess with everything so this (sadly) doesn’t surprise me.

  8. The only fragrances I recall disliking because of high school associations were Ma Griffe and patchouli. A much disliked teacher drowned herself in the former and I drowned myself in the latter. I have recovered as I now like Ma Griffe and love patchouli, both in very small doses.

    1. You know what, now that I think about it, that could be some of my Vanilla Fields issue as well. I’m pretty sure that an evil teacher wore it as well (the stuff was so popular at the time).

      I’m happy that you now love patchouli 🙂

Comments are closed.