Humans are social creatures – we cannot survive except in groups. Anybody with excellent outdoor survival skills who thinks they can do it alone should ask if they learned those skills from another human. Since we are social creatures, it wouldn’t make any sense for our bodies to naturally produce odors that repelled other humans. Based on just that simple argument, it seems clear that the concept of offensive body odor is bullshit.
The deodorant market is worth almost 19 billion dollars (Statista). Deodorant manufacturers have a clear interest in getting as many people as possible to use deodorant, and we know they do that whether people need their product or not. 2% of people in Europe don’t produce any underarm odor at all (Science Daily), yet still nearly all of them – millions of people – buy deodorant because we’ve been convinced that deodorant is something we simply all need.
If a human does smell offensive, then there’s something wrong. It might be a disease, or it might be something in your diet. For example, if somebody smells strongly of alcohol, we know that’s because they’ve been drinking too much alcohol. Is the solution to put on an alcohol-disguising perfume, or perhaps to drink less alcohol? If I get diarrhea, I don’t just pop a cork up there, I realize I’ve been eating poorly and eat foods with more fiber. Surely it’s the same with body odor – if it’s there, your body is sending you a message.
When researching for this post, I read a lot of comments from people saying that they knew somebody who didn’t wear deodorant and thought they didn’t stink, but the commenter said they did. It’s difficult to find out for sure if what I believe is true, since we live in a world where everybody uses deodorant. I believe, though, that if everyone stopped, after a week or two we wouldn’t even notice the difference. We’d get used to whatever scent we have, and we wouldn’t need to cover it up. We’d save money. Create less waste. Have more space in our precious under-sink cupboards. And be saved forever from the choking stench of Axe and Lynx marketed to the world’s teenagers.