Thursday, March 14, 2013

Things I have loved I'm allowed to keep

That's from "The Flowers," Regina Spektor's contribution to the great canon of denial songs (e.g., "I Ain't Missin' You At All" — I have long intended to start a list of these). I am very sad that Google is killing its RSS reader, Google Reader, in July. I have used Google Reader daily since 2007. They killed it once before, now they're killing it again. Sadface to the max.

Anyway, a couple of things I have loved in the past 24-48 hours:

1. This "cultural history of Love's Baby Soft." The Awl is doing a series on "teenage fragrance memories" and nobody told me?! Here's an excerpt:
Baby Soft was born in 1974. The company that brought it to market, Menley & James, an imprint of the pharmaceutical bigwig Smith & Kline, had already been marketing beauty products to young women for several years. And yet, with the unveiling of Baby Soft, the company's concept of "young women" was revealed to be sort of… gross. The perfume's slogan was "because innocence is sexier than you think," and its most beguiling, bewildering magazine ad pictured a very young girl made up in creepy-sexy adult face: a proto JonBenet. In a corresponding early TV spot, a young woman (the same one shown above) timidly fellated a lollypop as a creepy male voiceover intoned that the fragrance captures the scent of "a cuddly, clean baby… that grew up very sexy." 
To make things weirder, in the same way that Seventeen is actually aspirational reading for pre-teens, Baby Soft wasn't so much aimed at "young women" as it was at girls who were looking forward to being women in the future. A 1974 Gimbels department store ad in The New York Times declared Baby Soft "the new way for big girls to baby their bodies" and assured that it was "created with Gimbels young customer in mind." Somebody, somewhere, seemed confused about the difference between babies, and girls, and women. That didn't matter: If Baby Soft was not the very first perfume marketed for the coming-of-age set, it was certainly the first smash hit. 
Eventually, in the 80s, the marketing angle shifted away from "sexy baby." Instead, Baby Soft billed itself as a weapon of clandestine feminization. This was the era of shoulder pads—a time when being a strong woman was sometimes confused with being masculine. An ad from this era pictures a cool tomboy, hanging with her dude friends, and the line, "underneath it all, she's baby soft." Women were trying to figure out how to have it both ways; Love's was selling girls a secret method. (This was a theme: Secret, "strong enough for a man," would be crowned the decade's top women's deodorant.)
There's also a piece about what your chosen GAP scent says about you. I never owned one of those original GAP fragrances, but my best friend in high school wore Heaven.

2. This song (a Kristin Hersh cover of a Vic Chesnutt song) coming on my iPod before I started running, so I could sing along:


  1. Both the fragrance memories series and the death of Google Reader made me think of you. I'm going to write a denial song about Reader. Sigh.

  2. I signed up with The Old Reader, which is an almost identical, bare-bones version of Google Reader. Seems to work pretty well.

    1. I'm putting off my migration till at least May/June...

  3. Hahahahaha. Spot... om:


    Smelling Notes: The least offensive of all incenses + Good Earth Tea.

    Type of Girl: A simulacrum of Jessa from "Girls" and Claudia from The Babysitters Club. Long hippie skirts you stole from your mom’s trunk in the basement. Sarah McLachlan circa Fumbling Towards Ecstasy. Favorite book: Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet.

    The Vibe: More bracelets on one arm than numbers in your age.

    The Future: Pretending your wardrobe isn’t from Urban Outfitters, Evergreen College for two years before transferring to a state school. Midwives and natural births. Yoga and juicing retreats, but persistent problems with “staying in the moment” during savasana. Tickets to Florence + the Machine’s next show.

  4. I DO own up to the amount of Urban Outfitters in my wardrobe, though. Heh.

    1. I haven't shopped there much in the past few years, but the things in my closet from UO are undeniably awesome.