3.29.2011

The smell of Chapstick

Do you know that particular, waxy smell that Chapstick has? It's different from Blistex or other lip balms. I don't know what gives it that smell. What I do know is that it reminds me, instantly and irrevocably, of Chanukah.

Why the association?, you might very well wonder. When I was little, we kids got eight presents for the eight nights of Chanukah, one on each night. And for as long as I can remember, one of the presents was a stick of Chapstick. At first, it was the clear kind. But then, when I got older, it was the more exciting cherry flavor. And do you know why the cherry flavor was more exciting? It's because it was more like lipstick. And that was exciting, fun, and cool. Especially when I was little.

I thought of that Chapstick smell-Chanukah association as I read Marjorie Ingall's piece in Tablet ("Little Ladies," Marjorie Ingall, February 22, 2011), in which she wonders about the sale of makeup to six-year-old girls. She's not the only one.

I sympathize with her. But when I remember how non-princessy I was (dressed in gender-neutral primary-colored clothing by my mother, the better to hand down to my little brother), and how I still coveted those tubes of Chapstick, plain or fake-cherry-infused, I wonder. My mother didn't wear makeup, so I wasn't trying to imitate her. My grandmothers did, and one grandmother happily introduced me to nail polish when I was about six. I polished my nails intermittently throughout my tween years.

So, is Walmart creating a market with its geoGirl line, or capitalizing on an existing desire among little girls to paint their faces? On the other hand, as the Ms. Magazine blog post ("Walmart’s geoGirl: Doesn’t Every 8-Year-Old Need to Exfoliate?" Mia Fontaine, February 9, 2011) points out, this is a far cry from a tube of Chapstick:
The line, which boasts a total of 69 (let’s hope that’s coincidental) products, contains everything from eyeshadow, mascara and blush to exfoliator, anti-oxidant treatments and face soap. After all, what 8-year-old doesn’t need to slough off dead skin and elongate her eyelashes?
And what of the claim that the push is coming from parents and not kids? That's a disturbing one!

Thoughts?