Botanical Perfume and Experiential Beauty
Are you a grey-haired goddess? A hairy-legged beauty? A genderqueer babe? You are welcome here.
How sad it is that our beauty industry is based on creating insecurities and then marketing to them, when there are so many other perspectives that could be celebrated! Why do we pressure women to buy a facial cream that will make them appear younger when we could market that same cream simply for the pleasurable experience of feeling it on our face? Why is pleasure more off-limits than shame when it comes to promotion? Why use judgement when you could use sensuality?
Far too many body care products are marketed to improve your appearance. They promise to make you look younger, more desirable, more attractive. They send the message that the way you are now is flawed and needs to be fixed. They capitalize on the same insecurities they plant in your subconscious. Ad after ad tells women that they are aging and that process needs to be halted, no matter the cost.
There is nothing wrong with aging. Let me say that again - there is nothing wrong with new wrinkles or gray hair or changing complexions. It’s a natural part of life and it is beautiful. The fetishization of youth in our culture does a great disservice to the wise and multi-faceted older women amongst us. Too often I hear stories of middle aged or older women feeling invisible or ignored; they cling to the promise of looking younger because it gives them hope that they’ll feel valued again. It’s a terrible shame that we send those messages out into the world, and all for the sake of a few dollars? Similarly, the vultures of the cosmetics industry use shame to target all shapes and sizes of people, particularly femme-presenting ones. I’ve had enough of it.
Let me clarify: I do not think bodycare products are bad. I love the few I use to feel clean or expressive. I just think our cultural focus needs a little shift. Instead of promoting external results, let’s focus more on the pleasure of use - the sensual enjoyment of silky lotion on dry skin or the heady aroma of a floral steam. Let’s create these potions with natural ingredients and use them during times of self-care as a gesture of love and tenderness. Let’s slather our bodies with goodness not to alter our appearance for anyone else, but because our bodies deserve that loving care and our minds need that relaxing break. Let’s indulge and enjoy and pamper and love. This soft rebellion is perhaps the most powerful kind of rebellion I know. Learning to love your body exactly how it is is a radical protest against a fortune-driven monster of a cosmetics industry. And with all that programming, it’s hard. But we can all start somewhere, such as creating a custom perfume blend to enjoy just for you.
I wrote the following poem after listening to my amazing friends express their vulnerabilities about their bodies. I felt at a loss to comfort them, knowing how deep-seated that bodily shame can be and how frustrating it is to have a body that doesn’t do what you want it to (in my case, my struggles with body image have more to do with feeling broken due to illness, but it’s a similar root feeling.) It can be difficult to see beyond your insecurities sometimes. But every single one of these people is immensely beautiful to me.
To my sweet friends…
I love you, in every shape you ever are.
I love your round curves, like a neolithic goddess, filled with the ancient wisdom I see in your brown eyes as we sit in the moonlight, dripping after a dip into those dark waters.
I love your tall strength, like the Tamarack trees that surround us when we’re out in the woods together, needles changing to the same bright auburn as your copper hair.
I love your sprightly small frame, as strong as the vines that climb over the rock wall we lean against, laughing at skinned knees
I love your mousy-brown hair, as familiar and comforting as the spoonfuls of soft roasted squash we eat together after our walk home from the farm stand
I love the lines at the corners of your eyes that deepen when you laugh with me, where I imagine little teardrops sometimes settle in snugly.
I love the streaks of gray that run through your long hair like wisps of silver. It seems to shimmer in the low light of the evening as we pick blackberries and chat
I love the pear-like curves of your body, so expressive as we dance together, caught in a moment of pure play
I love the stretch marks on your abdomen, signs that you, my dear friend, held within you the beauty of a new life - a beautiful baby to nurture and love
I love the scar across your cheek. It belongs to a story I have not yet heard (and do not want to ask for) but I know that it is you, and that makes it more beautiful to me than I can say
I love your broad shoulders, so perfectly suited to carrying a backpack, to exploring beyond the reaches of the ordinary, for carrying home the stories of adventure
I love your round face that you’re so self-conscious about because you look like a painting brought to life with luminous brushstrokes; not a one of them a mistake
I love your raggedy nails and rough hands in mine, I can feel the passion for your plants in your pulse, I know you love the earth and for that I love you
So, with all of that said, let me express my intention in sharing this perfume recipe with you: it was designed purely for pleasure of use. The blend of essential oils I used here is reminiscent of sitting in the middle of a garden on a summer morning. It’s the smell of gently brushing geraniums and tomato plants, of breathing in the earth beneath you, of catching wisps of blossoms carried on the wind. It is lovely when stored in a roller-bottle filled with delicate botanicals, as beautiful to look at as it is to smell. I hope that you allow yourself the pleasure of this potion for no other reason than your own enjoyment. I made it for you, after all. To apply, just roll a little bit on your wrists, temples, etc. (Make sure you test a small area first to make sure you don't have a reaction to it.)
Summer Botanical Perfume
This recipe is for 1 (1oz) roller bottle, but you can easily scale it up to make enough to share with friends. Just make sure to use less than 12 drops essential oil per ounce of the sweet almond oil to keep it at a safe dilution. (2%.)
1 oz roller bottle with removable top
1 oz sweet almond oil
2 drops yarrow essential oil
1 drop geranium essential oil
1 drop bergamot essential oil
4 drops sweet orange essential oil
2 drops vetiver essential oil
Dried flowers and botanicals: bachelor’s buttons, calendula, cockscomb, etc.
Remove the top of your roller-bottle and fill it with some dried flowers or petals.
In a small glass or ceramic bowl, mix together the sweet almond oil with the essential oils listed. (A toothpick works well for this.)
Carefully pour the scented oil into the roller bottle, using a small funnel or pipette if needed.
Put the top back on and cap your bottle. It’s ready to be enjoyed.
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