Seven Questions on Beauty : Natalie from Another Perfume Blog

If you read Natalie’s writing about perfume, you will quickly recognize that her blog is not just ‘another’ perfume blog. Her writing is incisive and honest and provides interesting ‘angles’ on  perfume :  an approach that I identify with and which keeps me coming back for more.


1) What do you mean when you call something beautiful? Do you have different definitions when you talk of different things like faces, art, landscape? Or is everything you find beautiful characterized by something similar?

Oh boy! You are not going to ask the fluffy, easy questions, are you? 😉 

 Off the cuff, I would say that my definition of beauty is broad and flexible, and so the variety in how I use the word relates more to the characteristics “beauty” encompasses than to the object I might be describing. One commonality: when I use the word beautiful, it is usually in an effusive moment of deep appreciation, whether I’m seeing something beautiful for the first time or the millionth. 

 When I use the word to describe a person, I’m usually using it as shorthand for the intrinsic beauty of that person, describing a quality or qualities that are unique to them. I’m not apt to comment on a person’s appearance as often.

 I tend to use “beautiful” to describe art that conveys truthful and serious emotion. I don’t have less appreciation for humorous or satirical pieces, but I am less likely to call them beautiful. In landscapes, I’m pretty equal opportunity. I love urban landscapes and the countryside, so I’ve definitely been known to enjoy the beauty of a trashed-out alleyway or an abandoned building. As for people, I still maintain that every person is beautiful on the outside in some way. Watch someone doing the thing they love to do best, and their beauty is immediately evident.

2) Is there something that you find beautiful that is an exception to the above definition or which lacks the above characteristic/s?

I don’t think so.

3) Do you make a distinction between aesthetically pleasing (or appealing to the senses) and beautiful? Can you call something one without it being the other? Is something that is aesthetically pleasing to you also defined by the characteristics described above?

Yes and no. I might feel or realize that something is aesthetically pleasing to others, or by an objective measure, without myself feeling that it is beautiful. The easy example is a person who is objectively attractive, but has some other characteristic that negates his or her attractiveness for me. I feel the same about some people’s art, for example the work of Hemingway, Tarantino, Hockney. I can recognize the value and quality of their work, but I have an instinctive reaction against it their aesthetics (as well as some intellectual arguments against their work, but that’s neither here nor there)

4) Do you have physical reactions to beauty? (e.g. eyes opening wide, tears etc)

No, I save my tears for nostalgic crap.

5) Could you list examples of ‘things’ you find beautiful under the following categories

a) Painting/Sculpture 

“Love” by Stephan Sinding














b) Perfume                                  

Vol de Nuit by Guerlain

c) Smell

Black tea

d) Male Face

Oh, ugh. Famous men usually seem like douches. Exceptions: Kevin Spacey, Alan Rickman, Jon Stewart, and Hugh Jackman seem like awesome people.

For looks alone, Adrien Brody.










e) Female Face

Sophia Coppola is smart, individual, and beautiful.

f) Music from your own country


g) Music from a foreign country


h) Landscape












6)*  Is there a piece of art (or ‘thing’ or face) that you find particularly beautiful even though you are in the clear minority in that opinion? If so, could you discuss it and explain why it appeals to you?

There are things that I admire that I know are not commonly admired, but in the age of the internet, I think it’s always possible to find someone who shares the opinion.

7) Is there something that is renowned to be beautiful that either doesn’t appeal to you or that you don’t find beautiful? Could you explain why?

The Eiffel Tower doesn’t speak to me, which has always made me sad. I think because its beauty lies as much in its scale and the landscape where it is placed as it does in the structure itself, and it is difficult to find exactly the right position and atmosphere to take it in (especially because of one’s fellow tourists). I will keep trying, however. Someday I hope to be in Paris and just, blammo, be struck by its beauty.

Natalie makes a very interesting point that humorous and satirical pieces are less likely to be called beautiful by her, even though she doesn’t appreciate them less. I find that observation to be true for me as well. And I wonder why.

* Question 6 was suggested by Suzanne

Picture Credits

Pictures of Natalie via Natalie
Picture of Love by Stephan Sinding image via Pbase
Pictures of Jon Stewart via ivillage
Picture of Venice via 123rf


  1. And I am literally wearing vintage Vol De Nuit parfum as we speak, as I did last night out in Tokyo to a very strange and suffocating performance art piece. The perfume is perfect for the indescribable and the deep.

    • Natalie

      Funny, I just read your post about your vintage scores last night, and then this was posted today, and your comment came in. Synchronicity! It must mean some vintage VdN is going to fall into my lap. Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • I am not familiar with Vol de Nuit (meaning, I must have smelled it but haven’t ‘registered’ it). You and Natalie make me want to retry it!. ooh and I went back to that Antique store but I will update you on your post..:)

  2. I agree with so many things Natalie said.
    And now she mentioned the Eiffel tower, I realized I have no particular affinity to it. I’ve been to Paris 4 times and never felt the need to come close and see it – it was enough for me that I could see it, for the better part of my stay, every day in the distance.

    • Hi Ines!- Yes, though I haven’t ever visited Paris, I can identify with not falling in love with certain famous landmarks that are thought beautiful by many..Though I wonder if you would feel differently if you saw the Eiffel Tower up close?

      • Hmm, I don’t know. It’s a good question but it looks nice from distance and I never got a particular wish to see it close. I would enjoy climbing it though. 🙂

  3. “I still maintain that every person is beautiful on the outside in some way. Watch someone doing the thing they love to do best, and their beauty is immediately evident.”

    This says so much about Natalie, and of course, she’s right. I also got a kick out of her answer about how she saves her tears for nostalgic crap.

    Interesting to hear that neither she or Ines are taken with the Eiffel Tower. I’d have to say I really love it, but I can understand Natalie’s answer as to why it doesn’t move her.

    • Natalie

      Hopefully some of your Eiffel Tower affinity will transfer on to me for the next time I’m in Paris, Suzanne. Thank you for reading!

    • “Watch someone doing the thing they love to do best, and their beauty is immediately evident.”
      That is so true isn’t it? I loved that answer too. And I agree with everything else you you said too..:)

      I haven’t seen the Eiffel Tower but now I’m curious what I’ll think of it..:). We’ll see.

  4. This was fabulous. Natalie has such a thoughtful way of looking at the world and she does find new angles you never considered before, so it was wonderful to get her take on what’s beautiful. I particularly liked her view that there is beauty in art which ocnveys some kind of truthful and serious emotion. I also agree that the attractiveness of a person can be negated by some other characteristic. It’s interesting how few of us “objectify” others in terms of looks.

    I also love the little things you learn about people that you might not have done otherwise. I’ve never seen that sculpture before and I never had Natalie down as a Pink fan!

    • Natalie

      I do love Pink! I think she’s got such an amazing voice. It is especially evident when you see her perform live.

      I agree with you that it has been interesting (not surprising, but more confirming) that most people don’t seem to be too obsessed with external appearance. I feel like our group is probably pretty representative of how most people think about beauty. Right? (Or am I just not living in reality?)

    • “I also agree that the attractiveness of a person can be negated by some other characteristic.” Definitely- I’ve often found that the way a person looks seems to change the more I know. Most people start to look more attractive, especially the ones whom I like/admire. And of course, the other way around also happens sometimes. So I’m with you on that!

  5. I so agree with the statement “When I use the word to describe a person, I’m usually using it as shorthand for the intrinsic beauty of that person, describing a quality or qualities that are unique to them. I’m not apt to comment on a person’s appearance as often.”! While it’s a little bit easier for me to apply that adjective in its direct meaning to a woman’s appearance it’s not coming out naturally if I try to think of how a man looks. Probably it’s cultural: I grew up not trusting good-looking men: they were even more spoiled and chauvinistic than the majority of others. So for me it’s very important that the beauty comes from the internal charasteristics.

    • Natalie

      I agree with you. It doesn’t feel natural for me to apply the word to men, even if maybe I *mean* that they are beautiful. I would probably say “handsome” or something similar. Interesting that there is a cultural component, but that makes sense. (I guess after all I did say that famous men seem like douches.*) For me I think it is buying in to gendered language, though. I recognize that I do it, but still would consider a more traditionally masculine word for a man before I would say he was beautiful.

      *I actually hate this word, but for some types of obnoxious male behavior, it is the only one that seems to be colorful enough. 🙂

      • You know, it is weird, but I use the word ‘handsome’ very differently from ‘beautiful’. I seem to use ‘handsome’ as I would ‘attractive’ or ‘good-looking’. Somehow beautiful seems to necessitate something deeper (as you pointed out) – some inner quality, if you will. I am not sure why, though. That was one of my motivations for these questions- I wanted to know if others did this too and it does seem like many of us do! 😀

    • That’s interesting Undina! One of the reasons I had a separate category for male and female faces was because I did think that consciously/unconsciously our usage of ‘beauty’ might apply differently to both. I am not sure if that is true for everybody, though.

  6. Pingback: Beauty « another perfume blog

  7. I have since I first found Natalie’s blog been struck by her beauty. A beauty that shines from her though her writing which illuminates and is inviting to the minds eye. I also think she has beautiful hair.

  8. My favourite line in this thought-provoking assessment of beauty was the one about Natalie being ‘equal opportunity’ when it comes to landscapes. That tickled me, but I do tend to agree that humour isn’t quite beautiful. The occasional pun can come close, mind. 😉

    Oh, and another non-appreciator of the Eiffel Tower here – I think it may be to do with the fact that it is the iron girder equivalent of a pear shaped physique, and may be tapping into some deep insecurities in me. 😉 I also liked N’s point about some attribute negating a person’s objective beauty – we do all appear to be on the same page when it comes to our collective take on physical looks. Not much time for cookie cutter beauty and shallowness, for sure.

    • haha- yes- the ‘equal opportunity’ line was great and true too! I am still (theoretically) a bit puzzled by the beauty equals serious equation (not what Natalie said but why we all tend to feel like that). As in, why do I find it easier to call something serious beautiful. Especially since humor and satire can often get to the truth better. A lot of food for thought- haha.

      Hmm- interesting about the Eiffel Tower. This reminds me of how I thought (and still think) that the view from the Empire State Building was over rated (I might just have been too tired that day. It’s possible :))

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