Does it Matter How Good You Look if You Smell Bad?

By Donna Lee Schillinger (because no one else dared write this article!)

Here comes summer and with this global warming thing starting to seem real – new record high temps year after year – we can plan on doing a lot of sweating! Gads. You can scurry from one air-conditioned place to the next and avoid sweating, but you’ll miss out on a lot of summer fun that way too. So equip yourself with good hygienic practices (and a summer care kit) to keep yourself smelling fresh even when you’re *glistening* profusely.

There are basically five body areas that can undermine your confidence and good looks by attracting unwanted attention: head, underarms, underbreasts, panty area and feet. In unabashed simplicity, we’re going to straight talk our way through them all.

Let’s work up from the feet. Fortunately, during summer months, feet can be less of a problem because they spend a good deal of time in sandals. Even so, some sandals, particularly those with faux leather insoles, can start to get a certain funk about them. Prevent a problem by washing them in soapy water with a half-cup of pet odor remover or vinegar added in. Then make it a daily habit to powder your feet with an antifungal powder or spray. Wearing absorbent socks is the best prevention for foot odor if you have to wear closed-toe shoes. But it’s not a great idea to stay in sweaty socks for hours and hours. So the first item in your summer care kit to keep in your car or purse is an extra pair of socks to change into when the others have reached their saturation point.

OK, you don’t want to read this and I don’t want to write it, but it needs to be read and said. There’s no more mortifying thought than that you might have, unbeknownst to you, crotch odor. You know how when you put on perfume, you can only smell it for a few minutes and then it seems to disappear? Well, it’s still there and people can smell it on you, but your nose’s receptors for that particular scent are “filled up” and so you can no longer smell it. Unfortunately, that’s the way it is with our body odors too. Our nose can’t really detect our own bad breath, etc. Sometimes, the wind will shift and you’ll get a fresh perspective on yourself, but most of the time, we’re just sort of the olfactory equivalent of blind to our own smell, a phenomenon known as olfactory fatigue. So do yourself and the world a favor and assume that you naturally stink and take precautions to prevent the odor becoming intrusive on others.

You should know by now that you just really have to shower daily in the summer and plan your exercise around being able to shower afterwards. Sometimes, however, that’s not possible. It’s from the park to the movies. What to do? Pack a change of clothes if possible. Add to your summer care kit a change of undies in a sandwich bag, which can also be used to store the dirty ones. But if you don’t have a way to make a quick change, you can at least wear and then change panty liners. Also stock your summer care kit with a
small spray bottle with three parts water to one part vinegar and a couple of drops of your favorite essential oil such as lavender or palma rosa. While you’re toileting, spray your whole panty area, including upper thighs. Give the vinegar a minute to kill the bad bugs and then pat dry. This, with a change of skivvies, is about as close as you can get to a shower without running water. If you’re not into making your own, Playtex makes a personal cleansing cloth (in the tampon section) that is individually wrapped.  They are a little pricy, but very convenient for when you need to refresh on the go.


“Why, Lord?” one wonders when considering the sweat glands in our chests, just under the breasts. I’m sure there must be some logic to the design, but in the summer, it just seems like a curse, particularly for large-breasted women. A good sports bra will keep skin from folding over on skin, which goes a long way to solving the problem. Also you can wear an absorbent band of cloth under your breasts, like a bandana (only longer – you may need to make your own from cotton material), which you can slip off after the heat is off so you don’t have to go around with a damp bra after a game of volleyball in the park.

We’re up to our armpits now! If you haven’t found a deodorant that works for you, keep trying. There are plenty out there and the trick is to use them regularly. A travel size deodorant deserves a special place in your summer care kit, but before reapplying, give your pits a spritz with the water/vinegar/essential oil solution and pat them dry, then reapply. Don’t put more deodorant on top of funky!

Did you know our heads stink? And I’m not just talking about our breath, for which there is no shortage of remedies. Our scalps perspire throughout the day and night and cause an odor that our hair holds. Additionally, ears stink if not cleaned regularly. The best prevention for stinkhead is to wash your hair and ears (soap inside the ears with your fingertips) daily. Don’t forget to dry your ears inside with a towel (not a cotton swab). But when you can’t shower, a stop-gap measure is to straighten your hair, which removes the moisture which is holding some of the stink molecules. But if even that is not convenient, tuck a travel size hair spray in your summer care kit and, yes, apply this on top of funky. Hair spray, with its lacquering properties, just seals that stink until you can get to the shower next.

In general, there are other measures you can take to reduce the amount of stink your body produces to begin with, such as reducing red meat, garlic, and alcohol intake, washing your clothes after every wear, washing them with odor removing agents (like pet odor remover), not smoking, exfoliating, steam bathing and toweling off thoroughly after bathing, to name a few.

It doesn’t matter how stunning you look, bad body odor can refute any fashion statement. And yet, we’re all stinky; yes, everyone stinks. So don’t obsess about body odor either. After all, God gave you a unique one that, amazingly, will attract just the right person to you.

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