Olfactory Political Correctness

Fragrances Offend

Oh dry shampoo, why must you smell of pineapple or tropical blooms? Are you not made of cornstarch and propellant?  Must I trail the mists of Hawaii behind me when I cannot bear wet hair?

Hand lotion! Spare me your false vanilla, green tea, and orchid! Make your fragrance-free products affordable and prolific!

Palmolive dish soap, you lie! Your unscented soap reeks of weedy melons!

Alas, the preponderance of fragrance!

Before Unilever shot rockets of underarm deodorant over the iron curtain, I lived in Moscow.  Masses of summertime people pressed against me on public transport. Subway after subway, bus after bus, the aroma of tangy onions and tinned meat clung to humanity.

The uniform and predictable odor of the people became familiar, comfortable, even.  Humans really don’t smell so bad, rather we have been conditioned (brainwashed?) to be revolted by personal odors.


So, if the purpose of hygiene products is to prevent offense, should I be less offended by the lady standing next to me, shoveling bucketfuls of lilacs into my nose?

I don’t mind if our culture is compelled to smell like flowers or fruits or trees, provided they do so with temperance. One can look away from an unwelcome sight or muffle excessive noise, but an unsolicited smell is inescapable.

Olfactory political correctness should be de rigueur. Let personal odors have a context, an intimacy. Let personal odors be a whiff, a breath of molecules as you draw near, not a drenching monsoon of semi-insecticidal body spray that fills each visited room.


Be kind to unknown strangers who may have autism, asthma, allergies, or other sensitivities. Keep perfumes private, within your walls or arms reach. Many will appreciate your olfactory discretion.

Axe to Grind: I rate this popular men’s fragrance!

Common Scents: Adventures in Autism and Chemical Sensitivity

The Guide to Living Life Unscented