ooo, you smell nice! dealing with the stereotype of size and smell
This morning, a perfume I’ve wanted for years, but was never able to get for various reasons (sold out, unavailable, prohibitive cost and not enough money at the time) arrived, along with a bunch of free samples. I was so excited it was like Christmas had already come for me. Which was convenient, because it was my Christmas present to myself. I was going to wait, but c’mon, yeah right. I wanted to dab on all the samples right away and smell like the perfume hall at Myer.
I’d always been a perfume fan; ever since I was young I would ask for sprays from my mother’s bottle of Opium by Yves St Laurent. But it’s only been in the past few years I’ve started to get into niche perfumes and buying perfumes for myself.
Subconsciously, I feel there’s something wrong if I’m not wearing perfume. Like how some people have their favourite pieces of jewellery they feel naked without, I feel nude without a spray of perfume on my wrists or neck.
I’ve even gotten my younger sister into perfume. She never leaves the house nowadays without at least a spritz from a bottle. I’ve trained her well.
I sometimes wonder, however, if the reason why I like to smell like perfume is because I’m trying to buck that horrible stereotype of the smelly, fat person. And I kinda hate that I am so aware of it.
You know how people talk about the smelly fat person. ‘Oh, they were so stinky!’ ‘They can’t afford deodorant?’ ‘Their clothes smelled of BO!’ ‘It’s probably because they’re so fat they can’t wash themselves properly.’ Lather, rinse, repeat.
This hurtful stereotyping pervaded my thoughts for years. It was something I was always so worried about back in school and at uni. School and uni starting in the summer months in Brisbane means sweating, and I was always SO paranoid about smelling that I probably bathed in deodorant and perfume. I didn’t want to be accused of being that stereotype. I’d witnessed others be accused and gossiped about and I did not want that to be me. I was far too insecure and scared to speak up against it too and I look back on those years with a sense of shame that I didn’t speak up and challenge the hurtful comments others made about other people.
Now, if I witness that type of commenting (which thankfully I don’t so much anymore because the people in my bubble know better than that), I speak up. I remind them that sweat and “smell” isn’t relegated to fat people, we live in the sub-tropics where for pretty much five months out of the year we’re all sweating to death anyway and sometimes deodorant fails, and lastly, it’s incredibly rude to be talking about another person’s body.
I’m sure people are already hyper self-conscious of what smells their bodies produce and we don’t really need to be drawing more attention to it.
Unless you’re me, in which case, you bring it up off the bat because you like to see people get awkward trying to pretend they didn’t notice your face dripping down your neck. Also, I love when people bring up smelling my perfume because I could gush for hours about my favourites. Honestly, if a day goes by where someone doesn’t ask me what I’m wearing, I get a little disappointed.
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