Yara Shahidi Re-Defined Her Femininity With Fragrance

“There's no singular way to be a girl. That’s what is so difficult about girlhood.”

yara shahidi jean paul gaultier campaign
(Image credit: Jean Paul Gaultier)

Rose. Lilac. Lavender. Bergamot. Jasmine. These are stereotypical “feminine” fragrance notes. It’s not that these ingredients are tied to the word “girlhood” in Miriam Webster, but it’s been society’s prerogative to form an invisible string between the two. 

It’s exactly that construct that Yara Shahidi is trying to challenge with her latest Jean Paul Gaultier Divine campaign, which seeks to rewrite the rules of fragrance families by pairing a floral, gourmand scent with the power of gold armor packaging. “We all have this shared, very particular, very limited view of what girly girlhood or feminine womanhood is,” the Blackish star exclusively tells Marie Claire. “But there’s no single way to be a girl—that’s what I love about this campaign. We’re not pushing one idea of what it is to be feminine, we’re actually showing you authenticity is synonymous with femininity.” 

yara shahidi jean paul gaultier campaign

Yara Shahidi stars in Jean Paul Gaultier's Divine campaign alongside Tess Macmillan, Ana Elisa De Brito, Thando Hopa, and Lola Rodriguez.

(Image credit: Jean Paul Gaultier)

Such a simplistic definition of a term that’s quite often the cause for lengthy debate isn’t something Shahidi necessarily found easy to define. Like most, she spent years honing in on her relationship, mentally and physically, to the concept of girlhood. Starring on Blackish from the age of 13, her formative years were shaped by many false eyelashes and, as she puts it, way too many mirrors. “It was a great experience, but it also meant I was 13 and in a full face of makeup. It made me very self conscious,” she adds. 

It was through open dialoglog and “doubling down on who I am” that encouraged the Harvard graduate to develop her own definition of womanhood. “Freshman year, I wore a different monochrome track suit every day—I realized I felt so good because it was less about the silhouette, and more about being a woman wearing a bright color and taking up space in that way. My hair being super big—that’s a way I take up space. Those are the things that really anchor me,” says Shahidi. 

Now, wearing a powerful fragrance like Jean Paul Gaultier’s Divine is just another medium through which she embraces her femininity. “I've always been somebody who pairs a floral with a cool, base note. I never realized that was a pattern of mine until I was reflecting on the role of scent in my life. To find a perfume that hits both scents was really cool,” Shahidi says. 

Jean Paul Gaultier Divine is now available exclusively at jeanpaulgaultier.com.

Samantha Holender
Beauty Editor

Samantha Holender is the Beauty Editor at Marie Claire, where she reports on the best new launches, dives into the science behind skincare, and keeps up with the latest trends in the beauty space. She has previously written for Us Weekly, Popsugar, Makeup.com, Skincare.com, and Philadelphia Wedding. Follow her on Instagram @samholender.