Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Musings on Perfume

Long ago, before much of anyone bothered with things like bathing or changing their clothing, everybody stank a bit. It was just one of the facts of life. At some point the rich people began using strongly scented oils to cover up their own odor...wearing perfume developed into a status symbol (because of course the poor had neither the time nor money for such things).

In modern times we have running water, and (at least in most places) bathing is readily accessible. We can all be nice and clean and un-stinky all the time. In other words, the time for perfuming oneself is past!
And yet, instead of laying off, we have taken it to the next level. Now, along with the perfume, we have scented shampoos, soaps, deodorant, hair products, lotions...oh yes, and the perfume. Even our laundry detergent and fabric softener are scented (probably with two different scents) so even our clothing has its own smell. The average person walking past me on the street is a veritable battlefield of conflicting odors. Sure, each may smell nice on its own, but does anyone really think that they all smell good together? And does anyone bother to coordinate? (The only people I know who pay any real attention to this are the ones who are allergic to the perfumes, and stick to unscented everything...or the occasional anosmiac who sticks to unscented for practical reasons!)

The truth is that a lot of people ARE sensitive to perfumes (whether it's an actual allergy or just a sensitivity). It is the height of rudeness to wear perfume of any kind or in any amount if you will be in close quarters with other people (in a vehicle, in a theater, frankly even at church). I can't tell you how many times I have sat next to someone and then realized I needed to move on because if I stayed next to them I was going to get a headache. (I don't mean to be rude madam, but I must get away from your smell as I am about to be sick!)

I hate magazines that have perfume samples in them. One sample might not be too bad, but when there are 3 or 4 and they all mix up.... it gives me a terrible headache. I am not allergic to perfume, but good grief, do people really think that some of these smell good?! There are people paying to smell like this? Really?!
And as I said before, multiple synthetic scents all mixed's just not a good thing.

Smells, even a multitude of smells, can be a wonderful thing (walking through a flower garden comes to mind, or the wafting odors of dinner being prepared...) but synthetic scents are a whole other ballgame. And it's a bad ballgame.

What happened to the idea that "smelling clean" meant that the person/clothing didn't smell like anything at all?! Really, those were the days!


RasJane said...

One of my pet peeves wrt perfume is the people who reek of it and ask to hold my baby.
Why would I assault my poor babe that way??

Mallory said...

I've slowly been cutting out on my synthetic scents. I just moved to unscented laundry detergent and dryer sheets. I haven't worn scented lotions in a long time. And I just cut out shampoo altogether. I'm feeling quite proud of myself!

Although, I must say, every now and then, I love putting on some perfume. Also, I love smelling my husband when he is wearing cologne.

Christa said...

totally agree, in high school I think I would put on body splash or something after gym because we didn't have showers...but I haven't worn perfume in years, ever since I realized that I don't stink, neither do other people...except the ones who wear perfume.
We actually have a lady who sits in the hall during Relief Society every single Sunday because of the perfume people wear.

Brooke said...

You sound like you might be pregnant!! LOL :) I remember gagging at the thought of walking into the grocery store while pg... all those SMELLS. I too am sensitive to perfumes and many synthetic smells. I've used unscented detergent for so long that I'm often shocked when I smell someone's clothes (usually washed with Tide) when they walk in my house.
Oh well.

Destiny said...

I completely agree. I hate the migranes I get because someone decided to bathe in perfume.

Katrina said...

I couldn't agree more! My mom and I both have that sensitivity (allergy, really) to synthetic scents. So I, too, would need to move if I inadvertently sat next to that lady at church. Because of this, I don't consider it courteous of others to wear strong scents, either. A little, okay, but when they spray it on and it makes you choke just to walk past them? Ugh. Even my 4-year-old notices things like this: At the store one day we walked past a man in the isle and she said (quite loudly), "Mommy, I smell that man!"

Also interesting: I read an article once about an olfactory study that found that typically the people who pour on the perfume/cologne or those whose "smeller" doesn't work as well as the rest of ours. They can't smell it, so they don't think anyone else can. Unfortunate mistake.

Mae said...

"The occasional anosmic"? That made me howl with laughter. Thanks for representing!

I happen to be a paranoid anosmic who doesn't wear smelly stuff for fear she'll stink and offend others(I'm guessing you had me in mind with this one...) and I have sensitive skin so I might as well just not use the stuff.

The one scent I use is the "crisp linen" air wick thingy to make my house smell better before company comes over. Or I just put cinnamon in a pot of water and boil it on the stove.

My mother doesn't like scented antiperspirants or deodorants because she doesn't like the idea of someone smelling "soft powder" on her and thinking, "Hmm, she must be sweating!"

Carolyn said...

Being married to someone with a severe chemical sensitivity to perfumes, etc, I agree that it is very rude to come into close quarters with others smelling like you took a bath in your perfume! It is disruptive to my family. I am already the chorister at church, so I'm away from my family, and if DH sits by someone who is highly scented, he has to take out both kids into the foyer where it is noisy and difficult to feel the spirit. If he doesn't, he'll get a headache for the rest of the day, and possibly into the next.

Janeen said...

Oh, I'm SO with you on this and it was pregnancy that did this to me. I got rid of all but one perfume and one body spray and I barely wear them, only wear the one perfume really for hubby who loves it. It's Love's Baby Soft so not really strong. I can remember smelling Vanilla Fields when I was I think in seventh grade on someone in the summer and was almost sick. I liked the scent myself but could only wear it during the winter. Now, I can't wear it at all or even really tolerate it.

During the Feast, in the building where services are hold for the one site, there's a section specifically for people who cannot handle smells and no one with perfume on is supposed to go up there. We haven't made use of it though but the idea is a good one.

Marly said...

I am also one of those people who can't handle the smells. I have always been this way, so it wasn't pregnancy that did me in. When I walk through department stores, I have to hold my breath and walk very fast through the perfume section.

The only smell I like was my husbands after shave he used when we were dating. it brings back all those wonderful memories but I can't handle allspice, which my dad wears. go figure.

Threads of Light said...

I completely agree. Since cutting out all the synthetic fragrances that I possibly can, I find myself sensitive to the scents of other people's clothing, as well as their perfumes and deodorants.

Frankly it's a case of TOO MUCH. It seems that many people find it difficult to be confident that their own clean bodies smell ok, so they feel it necessary to drench themselves in all these synthetic smellies.

Katie said...

I seem to have developed a sensitivity recently -- I don't recall being this way as a kid/teenager. If I even wear a bit of perfume, I get a headache.

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