My Mamá and Abuela Taught Me the Power of Perfume

Clouds by Julian Restrepo
Lennie Billy
Lennie Billy

I'm a Latina girl, born and raised in Venezuela, eating arepas and all the good stuff. My mom and grandma are my rock. All the good memories I have as a child are with them around me, spoiling me and making me the woman I am today.

I was raised by a single mother, and when my grandma used to live with us, she was so helpful to my mom, my two siblings, and myself. When it comes to beauty, both my mom and grandma are my greatest examples of elegance, style, and manners. My mother is the type of Latina you'll see at the supermarket with a full face of makeup and smelling like an angel; my grandma is the exact same way. There's a quality I inherited from them both, and it's to always smell good. My mom and my grandma are obsessed with wearing perfumes, and guess what? I am, too! My mother used to have one perfume for every occasion; she would always have enough so just in case she ran out of one, she would have a back up.

My mom always told me that by smelling good, you gain respect.

My mom always told me that by smelling good, you gain respect. People will love to be around you, remember you, and you will always be seen as someone who takes care of yourself.

I've been wearing perfume since I was 8 years old. I love perfumes of all kinds, and it's my favorite gift, as well as my mom's and grandma's. My mom used to say to my siblings and I that if we wanted to give her something, please have it be a perfume, and she still does.

When I was little, I used to go to her room and go straight to the shelf where she used to have all of her perfumes; I would smell them, spray them on my clothes so I could smell like her, and try to read the names. Some I couldn't even pronounce 'cause they were in French or English, but that was my favorite thing to do, so I could be more like her (or at least, smell like her).

My grandma, on the other hand, used to wear the same perfume all the time. I still remember the aroma: it was a citrusy type of perfume that was to me her signature smell. Everything in her house would smell like that; her room, the pillows, bed sheets, everything!

Lennie Billy

That was the best beauty lesson they could have taught me. I love feeling like I smell good, and I love when people tell me so. It makes me feel complete, beautiful, secure, and elegant.

I always remember the story my mom told me about my grandma when she used to smoke. One day she went to the doctor and he told my grandma that it was unfortunate for a woman as elegant and gorgeous as her to smell like cigarette; right then and there my grandma quit smoking, and never again went near a cigarette in her life. For her, that was the worst insult she could have received. After I heard that story, I have always been so self-aware of my smell. I don't want people to think I'm not a clean person, that I don't love myself, or that I don't take care about what impression I want to give about myself.

Lennie Billy

I believe that my perfume also defines how I'm feeling at the moment. I like to have different types of perfumes with different aromas. I even try to combine them with what I'm wearing. For example, if I'm wearing all black to work, I will use a perfume that has a strong aroma, but if I'm just going out to the beach or on a date with my boyfriend, I like to use a perfume that has a softer aroma, something flowery or fruity.

My obsession with smelling good is so extreme that if I forget to wear perfume before leaving my house, I will go back or stop at a perfume store and act like I'm going to buy something, so I can put on some of the testers. My mom and my grandma definitely made sure I learned that right. I have never sensed a bad smell on them, and that has been the beauty legacy they've passed down to me.