Bath & Body Works kinda smells like ass

by Janelle Hanchett


I didn’t really wear make-up until I was in college.

I got into that whole cute-clothes-shopping thing at about the same time.

I got my first boyfriend when I was 16.

My hair was down to my waist by the time I was 12 because I didn’t cut it. That was my hair-styling method: don’t cut it.

Pedicures didn’t enter my life until I was around 25 (and they come way too rarely) and manicures have never quite made the cut. Ha ha. Nice pun.

What I’m trying to say is…it took me a long time to get into the whole “girly” thing – and I have never completely entered it.

This is not because I think I’m above it or a feminist or anarchist or whatever. Though obviously, women are better than men. Duh. It’s because it just isn’t my thing – just naturally not really my deal, from the beginning. But I am into some girly stuff. I wear make-up with relative frequency, I get my hair done (every 6 months whether I need it or not!) at salons that charge approximately one month’s rent – and I have a minor boot problem. Also jackets. But mostly boots.

At one point I had a small obsession with gift bags.

Let’s talk about something else.

And I dig getting dressed up. Like twice a year.

But there a few girly things that I just don’t understand on any level. A lot of it (lots of make-up, heels, matching purses, exercise, shaving, etc.) I’m just too lazy for, but I understand the theory behind them. Some things, though, are a complete no-go. I look, I watch, I wonder.

I try to understand, but I fail.

For example, fruit-smelling lotions and sparkles.

So basically, everything at Bath and Body Works.

Raspberry scented lotion with glitter.


Yes, right after I vomit on myself after applying it. I mean some of that shit is horrid. I like eating fruit, not smelling like it. I walked into that store the other day with Ava to purchase something for a birthday present and I was slammed with the sparkly-ness of it all.

Freaking GLITTER everywhere. All this pink and cursive and gold curly ques. I felt an almost visceral reaction…wanted to cry out “Mommmmyyyyy. Help. Get me outta here.”

In short, some of that shit stinks – such overkill.

Now, now. I’m not judging people who use “Jingle Bellini Shimmer Mist” or “Strawberry Sparkler Shower Gel” or “Pink Sugarplum Fragrance Spray”. I don’t care. And some people I love dearly use that stuff. I just cannot relate to how it’s appealing on an actual nose level. It smells so overwhelming to me – like a big, thick, shimmering mask of SUGAR.

The sweetness of it gives me a headache. I sound like an old person.

And I do a lot of things. But I don’t really sparkle. There ain’t a whole lotta “Sparkling Berry Bliss” in my life.

I mean when I hear names like “Marshmallow Fireside” or “Frosted Cupcake” or “Ribbon Candy” I think porn, not lotion.

Not that I watch porn, cause I don’t. I’m lucky if I get 15 minutes of television a week, I’ll be damned if I’m gonna waste it staring at women who are skinnier than me.

How’d we get on the porn topic?

Oh right. Frosted Cupcakes.

I’ll frost your cupcake.


Sooooo…admittedly I like the Lavender Vanilla, and my friend had a Vanilla Bean lotion that was nice, but most of that stuff is just too sweet for me, and, well, kinda smells like ass.

It was weird being in there, walking around all this stuff that was supposed to apply to me (as a female), but felt so unappealing and foreign – and as I strolled around a little awkwardly an old familiar feeling crept in – you know, that one that tells me there’s something wrong with me because I’m not interested in “Cinnamon Raisin Cookie” lotion, or sparkles. Or raspberry lip gloss. And I never have been.


I used to look at these other girls and wonder “how do they just know how to do this make-up thing?” How do they know how to dress? How to be cool?

What boat did I miss and where can I find it now?

I tried for awhile, to find it, to shove myself into glitter and fake nails, but it just didn’t work.

I felt more awkward pretending than I did just embracing my non-“Candied-Sugar-Plum” self.

The only difference between then and now is that I now embrace my geek-hood. I’m okay with being, well, I don’t know. Whatever I am.

I’m okay with not getting it. With looking at society’s depiction of femininity and just knowing I ain’t that and a lot of us aren’t and I don’t really know how to dress and if my purse matches it’s coincidental – and my nails are usually not pretty and my gray hairs are starting to show and I don’t know what the fuck to do with myself in Bath & Body Works.

Now leave me alone so I can go douse myself in “Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin” body cream.

I just threw up a little. I did.


Well, not all of America.

20 Comments | Posted in nothing to do with parenting. | December 12, 2011
  • Sara

    1. I wish I could take back that bath and body christmas basket I gave you about 6 years ago… now I know 😉
    2. I’ve always looked up to your sense of style, fashion and yes…the way you transform your eyes with a couple mac colors.
    3. Lucy asked me today why you changed your hair and eyes at the party last this past weekend:) I told her sometimes girls like to do their hair and makeup to look nice…to which she said, yeah Auntie Janelle is pretty.

    Seeing as I always do my hair and makeup the exact same way…maybe I’ll try to do something different. but wait…I have a newborn. Nevermind.

    • renegademama

      Awwwww, I love Lucy.

      And I like the scent you chose – lavender vanilla. It was probably the only one I would buy again. In fact, I went to check it out but it smelled different now, kind of stronger or something.

      So you “done good.”

  • Lisa

    You just made me laugh, again. Despite my own tomboyishness in my early youth (is that a word? who gives. . . ) I did try to do a portion of the girly thing a little later on. And I still do, at times. But lemme tell you – I’ve only had a few manicures and I know that given 30 minutes and a sharp set of tools and a little color I can do better myself. But back to the point. Women who just seem to naturally get style, and color, and polish, have always thrown me off. No offense to anyone reading this but my Mom was raised lower-middle-class and worked two jobs the whole time she raised us, single most of the time. If we had decent clothes we were lucky, we didn’t get to sit around doing our nails and reading magazines and such. I have no problem with anyone who did, it just wasn’t my life. I love to “get pretty” every once in awhile it just takes me a lot more planning than some others as it isn’t my everyday vibe. I ended up going to an upper-end High School (your post about Ava and the limo struck a chord with me – those were the girls I went to school with, but had absolutely no relation to, then) and they were mostly picture-perfect. But I had real problems, ya know? The difference ate at me then but bothers me very little now.
    Now to address Bath & Body works. Yuck. The reason it smells like ass to you is that it really smells like ass. I had a few well-intentioned relatives give me some of that shit in years past and I tried to use it. Then I realized, it has more to do with a toxic waste dump than any type of beauty regime. Your instinct that it just doesn’t smell REAL is right on. I can do a few of their shower gels (I am a shower aromatherapy whore) but the lotions, sprays, . . . the glittery shit? It has wretched and useless written all over it. I love real aromatherapy with natural oils but that shiny corporate version. . . I just can’t do it. So go with your spirit and say no to fake and image and unreal. If it smells like ass, don’t wipe it on your face.

    • renegademama

      Hahaha! This made me laugh. And yes, I actually do like the lavender vanilla scent…but it’s pretty strong too. It’s really the sparkly fruity ones that get me.

      and I totally get what you said about it not being your “everyday vibe.” That’s how I am. I like it, it’s just not how I roll on a daily basis. 🙂

  • Melanie

    I don’t like stinky stuff. I avoid those stores or the parts of stores that reek of “smell good” odors. No, no, no.
    The glitter in my world is on the Christmas decorations.
    Now a bakery? Those are some sights and smells I can get behind. 🙂

    • renegademama

      Um, yes. Bakeries. If those are girly I’m as feminine as any woman who’s ever existed.

  • Momtothree

    Ok, since it’s Circle Time for admitting geekiness, I have a few confessions of my own. I am a bit crazy when it comes to perfume. I am horrifically unfaithful to any brand or smell (though I admire people who have their ‘signature’ fragrance). I just need to spray myself with something that matches my mood. Mostly eau de toilette in Spring and Summer, and more earthy/moody fragrances in Autumn/Winter. However sparkles, no. My 8 year old thinks that’s cool, but a sparkly décolleté? You have to be kidding. Let’s leave that stuff for the under eighteens and maybe pole dancers, or something. Also, anyone notice how the body lotion in the same line always smells gross. Like you get the gift set, but you only use the perfume. For actually looking after your skin, almond oil is way better, more natural, cheaper and probably has a whole lot less parabens and s**t.
    And nails, please let’s not go there. I have tried so hard to keep them looking reasonable, but with the kids/house/garden/dog duties, there’s no way. In the end, all that matters is how we feel about ourselves. I know I’ll never measure up to those dolly-dressed, amazingly groomed mothers with matching handbags, scarf and shoes. But as long as I feel ok with what I’m wearing (and my nails are at least clean), I’m cool with that. Seriously, who wants to spend that much time and money on something so superficial?

    • renegademama

      At one point I had a perfume addiction, but seriously something has happened to me in the last few years: most strong scents make me gag. Weird.

      I kinda miss it actually.

      I still have them all, thinking maybe some day I’ll get back into it.

      • Momtothree

        Pregnancy is probably what happened. Even favourite scents can make you gag. You’ll get back into it, don’t worry …

  • Alycia

    Ugh I hear you about the manicures and pedicures. I have always thought they were a little too self indulgent and pricey. There are a ton of other things I can spend my $50 on…plus the fact that I don’t like people touching my feet.

    AND…since we are all friends here, I am 30 and I have to follow the instructions in the package on how to apply eye shadow. I still can’t figure it out, and I am embarrassed to say that I have had to go on you-tube to figure out how to apply eye shadow so it will stand out for dress-up events…which I enjoy the idea more rather than the reality.

    • renegademama

      THIS is awesome. I’m totally doing that. I’ve totally visited websites to figure out how to do make-up, and I pretty much just follow what this make-up artist at the M.A.C. counter told me, oh, TEN YEARS AGO – so I’m sure I’m like a 90s throwback or something, but whatever.

  • Kateri Von Steal

    This post made me cry, I was laughing so hard.

    • Momtothree

      “Jingle Bellini Shimmer Mist …
      3 CHEERS for the holidays !”


      They can’t be serious?

  • Cheryl

    A few years ago I had a serious beauty product addiction, bath salts, nail polish, smelly lotions, etc. I used to wear makeup every day, I loved to buy it and try different techniques and brands, even though it never really felt like it was ‘me’. I met my husband 5 years ago and he doesn’t understand the beauty product thing, hates makeup, and thinks I’m beautiful without it(huh?), so I finally got brave enough to stop wearing it…at all, ever(gasp!!!)….and it’s been really freeing. Mostly, I think it forced me to think more about my insides and getting comfortable with who I really am, not who society told me a woman should be. I still love to get pedicures and manicures sometimes, and I like to smell girly and clean, but now I don’t feel so awkward. Maybe it’s a being over 30 thing, but I’ve come to the realization that being real and not perfectly put together beats the crap out of being a great-looking, sparkly, smelly fake any day of the week. I think it’s awesome that you’re so honest and open with all of us and it’s nice to know that other people feel like I do and are much better at expressing it than I am, so thank you!

  • eringirl

    The only fragrance that doesn’t make me want to die is vanilla.

  • Shan

    There was an old lavender vanilla that smelled divine. Tom gave it to me the first time we spent the holidays together. Then they took it away and replaced it with something that *has* to be made for old ladies. Seriously old. Bleh. Plus there’s that whole thing where they have ingredients that are linked to breast cancer. Fuckers.

  • Sara

    i used to blame catholic education for my lack of girly-ness (who needs fashion sense when you were a uniform every day?? and only sin-filled sluts wear make-up….) but i think it is my inherent geek-ness that causes my ineptness. i know plenty of catholic school survivors who can put themselves together. i work at a pharma company now, and you can tell the scientists and engineers from the admins and marketing women. geek= no makeup, t-shirts, flats. everyone else= hair and makeup, heals, skirts. if i see a geek in a skirt at work, i become concerned someone died and they are heading to a wake!!! yay geek women!

  • Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama

    You are spot on as usual. My husband asks me if I am worried about not being girly enough. I ask him if he is worried about keeping his sack. 😉 Bath and Body works creeps me out both visually and from an olfactory standpoint. Makes me throw up a little in my mouth when I walk by. I suppose there might have been a time when I find it somewhat appealing but that was back when they had three scents and no glitter!

    Thanks for a good head nod and laugh. Enjoy some sanity for the rest of the month!

  • Michael Ann Riley

    Perfumes and strong smells give me migraines. Can’t wear them. But I CAN wear Lavender. Mmmm.. Trader Joes as a wonderful Lavender Mint (or something?) lotion that my chiropractor uses (instead of oil) when she massages my neck (ahhh) and that’s what I buy now

    Love a nice pedicure but only had my first one last year and I’m 47! And I only get a mani or a pedi if I have a gift card. Which actually I get fairly often from the parents of the preschool I teach at. NICE!

  • no

    Oh, you special snowflake.