My Mom was extremely strict about a lot of things. As a kid I was never allowed to get dirty, play in a puddle of mud, not even out in the rain. As I got older I started to get to be more and more of a rebel and actually got my clothes dirty once in a while. I have no problem getting dirty now, but I think one of my flaws which is trying to be a perfectionist comes directly from that. It was not just how I looked that my Mom was concerned with, it was also with how I smelled.
Everyone has body odor. It is part of how we are and even how we communicate. Pheromones are the chemicals responsible for triggering a natural response that makes us attracted to other people. I remember one of my teachers who did not believe in deodorant but letting nature take its course. I also remember Richard Pryor talking about visiting Africa and encountering the smell of his tour guide less than pleasant… in turn his guide also found the smell of his cologne as offensive.
I started using deodorant probably before I needed to start using it. I was always very concerned about smelling good. I have always had cologne that I wear and can count on my hand the days that I have actually gone without a shower. I have to shower first thing in the morning or I feel uncomfortable until I do. I still to this day remember the day where I forgot to wear deodorant and how mortified I was about it.
I can remember every single time I have had to spend next to a person who’s body odor was not something I was comfortable with. I have tried to be very polite and never said anything about it, but I always wondered if it was something I should have mentioned. Do these people know that their body odor is really strong?
I know that when I have had a long day where my perspiration level was higher than normal I could smell myself and got home at my first oportunity to shower and change. Besides the ride back from playing soccer with friends in the car I cannot remember I time where I knew I smelled and I was ok with someone having to sit next to me. I think I was ok with it because I knew the other people that had to smell my odor were also pretty stinky themselves.
It is embarrassing to have to tell someone they smell and I am not sure if I would ever be able to actually do it. I know people who I have brought the subject up to have said that if they smelled bad I should tell them, but even in that case I would still have issues saying anything. Only a couple of times have the smell been so bad that I truly could not stand it and had to kind of gasp for air, and I still did not open my mouth.
Do the people that have such strong body odor know and just don’t care? Are those around them just immune to their smell? are they just used to the way they smell and don’t realize it? Would you tell someone you know that their body odor is offensive? What would you do in the same situation?