How would you tell a sweet girl that she has B.O.?

So, I’ve been hanging out with this woman for a while, and she’s become one of my best friends in this town, one of a few people in the world with whom I can converse for hours. Incidentally, she’s also very attractive and fit. Unfortunately, she’s sworn off men for whatever reason, but as someone who’s used to being perpetually single, I’m enjoying the rare camaraderie just the same.

Oh, and it’d be tough to get any closer to her, because, as another friend says, “she smells like a linebacker.”

First of all, is it really possible she doesn’t smell it on herself? I mean, this is serious “teenage boy after a basketball game” B.O. It’s “cheerful foreigner with different cultural norms” B.O.

So, obviously, if she’s not aware, somebody needs to tell her. I’ve appealed to her coworker, a mutual friend, but he feels too awkward about it. Given its inherent awkwardness, I could easily see everyone in her universe being reluctant to speak up, which is sad if she truly doesn’t know.

It’s also possible that she’s mental, and is using B.O. to keep evil guys at bay. But she’s kind and considerate in every other aspect of her life. She’s also been going on some job interviews, and I feel like she’s wily enough to know the value of first impressions. She’s rank on those days too.

Honestly, in my middle 30s, I’ve become more adept at cutting through the bullshit and telling it like it is, and I realize I could potentially be doing her a huge favor by telling her straight up. But I’ve also learned that I have no idea how people will react to things, and as I can count good friends on one hand, I’m wary of embarrassing her.

Ah well. Wish me luck. How would you proceed if you were in my shoes?

Get her email address. Send her a tactful message via

That is tough. I’d be inclined to say, if you really are ‘good friends’, “Listen, we need to have a talk, and this is going to maybe sound a little harsh and I apologize profusely in advance if this offends you, but it has to be said…”

Or something more tactful along those lines. I would not do the anonymous email. She will either ignore it or be really, really hurt.

The coward in me was all ready to recommend an anonymous email. But yeah, **Jman **is right…if she’s truly your friend, she deserves better than that.

**Jman **is right. The only way is to be honest, as gentle as possible, but blunt as a baseball bat. If it makes you feel any better, by the time you’re halfway through the, “I have to tell you something and it’s probably going to upset you, but because I care about you…” disclaimers, she’ll think you’re about to tell her you’re in love with her. Hopefully, the relief that you’re not will take some of the sting out of hearing she stinks.

WhyNot, that’s hilarious; I had the exact same thought about the disclaimers. An extra layer of awkwardness.

If I do tell her, I’ll definitely be direct, but as I fantasized about cowardly ways to tell her, I thought one of my better ideas was to have another woman handwrite an anonymous note, claiming to be a coworker. Besides coming off as sisterly, it would throw her off my scent, so to speak.

A family friend of an old girlfriend of mine was some sort of human resources consultant, billing several hundred dollars an hour. Companies would hire her to come in and act as a mediator/arbitrator to smooth out all the toxic gossip/personal issues that sometime arise in an office environment. She said she was commonly brought in to call someone out on their hygiene issues. Enough so that she charged a flat fee (possibly $500) to tell someone that they smelled terrible, and really needed to do something about it. She was the nicest lady you could imagine, and apparently being able to get these points across without making people feel bad or offending them is worth a lot of money.

If you get really desperate, perhaps you could hire a stranger to do it for you?

Great. Now I have the J. Geils Band “Love Stinks” playing in my head.

I want this job.

I’d venture she already knows. There is a whole rack of deodorants in the supermarket, and I’m sure she’s aware that she skips that section. Some people, for whatever reasons, just choose not to use deodorant. I don’t think you’ll accomplish my other than making her feel self-conscious and if it does work it will just be bullying her into doing something she’s already decided she doesn’t want to do.

Sometimes people need a wakeup call or to be pressured into doing things that will help them in the long run. If she truly smells this bad, she’s going to be passed over for jobs, lose friends, lose out on potential long term mates, etc… Of course it’s eventually her choice, but she may be avoiding those aisles because she thinks her body always smells flowery no matter what, and doesn’t need that stuff like those sweaty people do. I don’t think it’s a good idea to tell her, then remind her about it every time you see her (bullying her into it), but she may need to hear that not only is hurting her professional life, but makes it hard even for her close friends to be around her. At least once.

Mileage may vary, but I’m perfectly fine with bullying people into not reeking.

Buy her a gift set of lightly scented products from The Body Shop or similar that includes a deodorant stick.

You don’t need deodorant to stop from smelling. Under normal circumstances you don’t even need to bathe or shower daily to stop from smelling.

There must be something else going on here; normal people don’t just reek.

Some people bathe and shower, but don’t wash their clothes often enough. Maybe she just doesn’t do her laundry?

Yes, they do.

I know if I (or my wife, or my friends, or one of my coworkers who also doesn’t smell so nice) doesn’t wear deodorant or such, and we sweat at all during the day, we’ll be nice and ripe by the end of the day. And I shower every single day.

I’ve found that most people who make this claim (and I’ve heard it before), tend to smell pretty bad.

:confused: Define “normal circumstances.” Because in these parts, after a few days without showering in the summertime you are guaranteed to develop a rough aroma.

I think that’s a definite YMMV thing. I wouldn’t smell too great without my trusty deodorant and daily showers, `specially in the Summer.

She’s also a bit of a workaholic, so besides working 12+ hour days and commuting and hardly sleeping, I can see her foregoing a shower to get that extra 15 minutes of sleep. But I dunno.

Yeah, that’s a possibility too. Once knew a woman who occasionally smelled of mildew just because she didn’t wash her towels often enough.

I was going to suggest this. A lot of the time, when people are a bit whiffy, it’s their clothes, not them.

I also have a female friend with BO. Also her teeth are pretty discoloured. But otherwise she’s really attractive; tall, slim, pretty…so she gets approached a lot, only for guys to make excuses and disappear.

She’s been single since forever and is quite down about it, so I was also thinking of how to tell her.
I was actually thinking of suggesting doing a makeover thing with her (and throwing deodorant in as a seemingly incidental part of the makeover). But I’m a guy so the makeover offer would probably seem very weird, even though we are quite close.