I have a racist perfume in my collection. Discuss.

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14 Comments

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14 responses to “I have a racist perfume in my collection. Discuss.

  1. Le Golliwogg : see picture.

    Should it be kept as a historical document, or should it be thrown away?

  2. Do you like the actual fragrance? Or does the feeling of unease trump the novelty/pleasure in owning/wearing it? I’d be tempted to give it to a museum or something. Overt racist imagery or not, there is still a strong tradition of racism in certain French fashion houses that never seems to die, and perhaps needs more exposure. I’ve often worried about this *after* buying perfume, and then remembering awful comments made by its makers… On the other hand, obviously you haven’t directly profited the propagandists by buying it. I say if you like the juice, discard the bottle.

    • The whole ‘golliwog’ thing is so grotesque I remember many years ago buying it just because I couldn’t somehow not, at a flea market for a dollar or less ( in Japan few would understand its offensiveness)

  3. Miranda Gordon

    It’s a historical artifact–conceptual, visual, olfactive. It’s important that we understand the product, in the context of its time and place. There are golliwog books (Enid Blyton) and golliwog music (Debussy’s Golliwog’s Cakewalk comes to mind), and the perfume belongs in a discussion with those. To discuss, to examine, to understand–is not racist. Wait: does it *smell* racist?? 😮

    • Interesting….

      It smells like a musty oily citrus chypre..

      And to my shame, I once won a piano contest playing Le Petit Negre by Debussy. I was ten, had no idea of what it signified but still…

  4. Lilybelle

    In America these vintage things are usually categorized as “Americana” and sell for high prices. Maybe some people are offended, but others, esp. African Americans, collect them. Racism is an attitude. If that perfume bottle disturbs you then let it go. My two yen, for what it’s worth.

    • Renee Stout

      Yes, this is a hard one. As an Black woman, I have placed that bottle in the context of it’s time, when such things were freely expressed. While it is an offensive object, I also agree that it should also be seen as an historical object and a reminder that, although the world has come a long way since then, we still have a long way to go. I like that you brought it up for discussion. Don’t throw it away, keep it and if you like the perfume then use it. I occasionally see them come up on ebay from time to time, but the prices ar so steep that I just let them pass. However, a “musty, oily, citrus, CHYPRE” does pique my curiosity (LOL).

      • You can have it! It was just a spontaneous thing when I saw it (it must have been trapped behind the big mirror or something; I know I have never mentioned it yet alone ‘displayed’ the thing before).

        Japan does a similar thing with white people on TV – I know it’s not as insidious or hateful but it still bugs the shit out of me, when Japanese actors pretending to be white people don huge, grotesque noses and yellow wigs.

  5. An intriguing 21st-century dilemma. I would keep it as a historical artifact. I have read that Francois Coty was a fascist…

  6. Hopefully it is a little bit racy as well.

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