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

People get used to the smells around them, especially if they are on their own bodies. I lived in an entire town that smelled like a massive fart because of a paper mill. Those of us who lived there would forget about it until we had out-of-town visitors.

It’s not that simple. There are people who don’t think that they smell bad or don’t notice. And there are people who come from communities where everyone is used to natural body odors and thus don’t think that there is a problem to be solved. It can be annoying and insulting, but different social groups have different expectations.

Sometimes completely normal people do give off odors that the people around them aren’t used to. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with them.

My only thought is that if you do tell her, say something like “your deodorant isn’t working” rather than “you smell bad.” In other words, talk about the situation rather than about her personally.

If you bathe every day, you shouldn’t smell bad regardless of whether you use deodorant. I live in Florida; I worked at Disney World; I know B.O.

It’s simply not true. I bathe twice daily and I still sometimes need deodorant.

This is true at the beginning of the day, but if it’s a hot day and you’re outside a bit, I find it depends quite largely on whether you’re wearing deodorant or not. After I’ve showered, I have a good 4-5 hours where I’m safe if I forget deodorant. After that, all bets are off. Of course, if it’s cool and I’m not active that day, I may be able to get away with a day without deodorant, but not if there’s activity/heat, etc.

Next time you’re talking to her, make sure to have a radio playing. Call the station ahead of time so they can play U Stink but I :heart: Uat the right moment :smiley:

Kidding aside, I don’t envy you a bit. At my last job one short-lived coworker stunk to high heaven, and her clothes and hair were always filthy too. The manager very tactfully talked to her about it and Miss Smelly was so offended that she up and raeg-quit.

Raised by a single dad, hygiene wasn’t really emphasized. At my first job one of my coworkers pulled me aside for this. A couple of factors:

  • Not washing my work uniform often enough
  • Forgoing the shower in favor of sleep
  • Not wearing deodorant

My coworker was nice about it (“Not sure how to tell you this, but…”) but I was still horribly embarrassed. My suggestion would be to do something that involves getting hot and sweaty (working out, a pick-up game, moving heavy things around, whatever) then comment, “Eugh, we reek! You want to shower first? There’s a travel deodorant in my cabinet you can take.”

Even if she passes up on the shower, insist she take the deodorant. Yes, buy a travel deodorant, in some manly-ish style that wouldn’t be unusual for you to have around the house. But if she’s aware of this problem at all she’ll take the hint. If not, you can fall back on the embarrassing conversation.


Oh, nice. Very kind. I vote for this approach!

In my experience, there’s a big difference between “working outside in the sun all day” smell and “friendly foreigner” smell.

Twice came in and shot the teller and Jim Fell.


My thought was that the job interviews are the perfect opening. That way it’s not that you are offended or can’t deal; you’re just looking out for her because other people might be turned off by something she’s not really aware of. Hard to argue with that, and it’s not personal from you.

Maybe the first shower is golden.

Or worse, the second.

I’ve known K since we were 11 or 12, and even then she had a B.O. problem. She’s horribly aware of it, and has been since she was mercilessly teased for it at school. She showers 2 or 3 times a day, uses deodorant, and launders her clothes carefully and regularly, but she still smells. She mentioned once that she was having an operation to try to correct it, but it didn’t help. I don’t know what the cause is, we’ve just always talked about it as some sort of glandular thing.

Not all smells are hygiene related, and not all smelly people are unaware of it.

Some people just secrete more of whatever than others.

I need deodorant. And I need to shower at least every other day, even if I’m on bed rest in a cool room. If I’m physically active and/or out in the heat, I might shower twice a day.

And everyone I’ve ever met who says “Oh, I don’t need deodorant, I shower every day” always has that stank on them after about three or four hours. Yes, some people will just stink, even if they shower twice a day and use deodorant after each shower. But for the vast majority of people, a combination of bathing/showering, deodorant use, and only wearing clothes for a total of about 16 hours before laundering/cleaning will take care of most odor problems.

I’ve lived in a culture where deodorant was not commonly used. I prefer the plastic wrapped American culture, thankyouverymuch.

Can’t recall where I read it, but someone voiced the suspicion that more human relationships are based on smell than we realize.

I had a friend who usually had bad BO, and I was afraid to tell him, because he was a good friend.

I read that people who smell bad usually can’t tell. When you’re used to smelling something for a long time, your nose just gets used to it and you can’t smell it as much anymore.

Those are the smells you don’t consciously recognize and in fact things like deodorant and other scented products interfere with this sense. It has been said that modern personal body products actually prevent people from hooking up in ways that natural odors would have facilitated.

This thread reeks.

:smiley: :smiley: :smiley:

Odor can also be a dietary issue. Back in the day of living off oriental-flavored ramen noodles, our kids apparently reeked from the “spice build up”. I’m thankful for the school nurse who brought up this sensitive subject. After we changed our diet, the odor problems completely disappeared.

Others who eat a lot (stress here A LOT) of garlic or ginger or any other potent spice can end up with a odor that showering and deodorant don’t begin to touch. And some people appear to have a difficult time properly digesting meat.

Not sure if these thoughts contribute much to how to tell her–but they might be relevant to the cause. Does she seem physically unclean, sloppy or dirty in any way besides the odoer? That might be a clue.