Girl Powder: A Cultural History Of Love’s Baby Soft

Perhaps the most feminine of all feminine products to have ever existed on Earth is Love’s Baby Soft. Its packaging, all soft curves and pale pink and frost, was basically an homage to the tampon. Its marketing scheme was Cinemaxilly soft-focus pre-teen beauty queen. It was made out of chemicals. It smelled like babies.

From the mid-70s until the mid-90s, this fragrance was an object of intense feminine fetishization for girls who had reached a certain age: the one at which we began to feel, rather definitively, not quite like little girls, not yet like teenagers. At this age, around 11 or 12, we acquire a sense that there’s a next level somewhere out there, just out of view, as if we are characters in a video game. We are consumed with figuring out how to get there. A magic mushroom must be consumed, a brick wall must be smashed through, certain totems must be collected. These, conveniently, are available at CVS: lip gloss, mascara tubes, curling irons, concealer sticks, Tampax — pretty much anything that comes in pink and is shaped like… a wand. After all, the symbolic language of little-girlhood still speaks to us.

The first in a series about our teenage fragrance memories.

In this sense, Baby Soft was pure perfumerie-marketing genius. It is an aroma that touches the comfortable memory place inhabited by scented Cabbage Patch dolls and, um, actual baby powder. It is positioned reachably, at a price-point just around allowance-level. And, in its confusing way, what it says is: WOMANHOOD.

Today, Love’s Baby Soft is a sensory relic. It has close to 15,000 Facebook fans, many of whom leave messages on its wall sharing their fond distant memories of wearing the fragrance in junior high and high school… read more >

I’m Baby Soft 1974 Vintage Women’s T-Shirt

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