What is one to do when a friend isn’t smelling as fresh as they should…?
Don’t get me wrong, everyone has those days and those moments where they aren’t smelling like a bed of roses. It might be because they’re on their period, they just finished working out, or they might seriously have an actual B.O. they don’t know about. I had to embarrass myself at the gym some weeks back when I went extra hard on an elliptical machine for 30 minutes wearing some capri cut tights that put the T in tights. When I got off and started walking around the gym in the hopes of scooping up one of the other coveted machines, I kept smelling an odor that was not where it was at. I would bend down and sniff around seats and shake my head at how funky the gym was at that moment. It was only when I sat down and stood up really fast that I had to treat my own life. That odor was coming from moi. “Oooooh girl, it’s time to go,” I told myself and I proceeded to stand out of people’s way (and scope of smell) when I got on the train home. I learned a funk lesson that day: You’ve got to let your ladybits breathe, especially when you’re working out.
But how do you let another person know they aren’t too fresh when they’re close to you and you don’t want to hurt their feelings? Especially when the odor isn’t of the norm and doesn’t seem to go away?
At my old job, I had a co-worker who I was really close with, and even after I left the company, she and I remained close friends. But one day while working, she came up to my desk to shoot the s**t and talk about her weekend. Usually her presence was very much welcomed in the monotony of my day, but on this particular occasion, she came with a body odor I hadn’t come across before, and it was jarring. As she talked about the party she went to over the weekend I wondered if I should say anything to her at all. It wasn’t that I didn’t care whether or not she went around the office smelling like a barnyard animal, but I’ve never been very good at telling people touchy things without hurting their feelings. I had a boyfriend in college whose tepid breath I dealt with for months and months upon end because I couldn’t find it in my heart to grab him by the hand, look him in the eye, and say, “Baby, your breath is killing me softly!” Instead, I continued to skirt around the issue by handing him peppermints when I had them in my purse, gum when I had some to share, and held my own breath whenever he would come really close to my face and talk in a low swexy voice in an attempt to be romantic. It wasn’t until months later when a good girlfriend told me during a lunch date that she had talked to him and come to the conclusion that, “GIRL! ___ BREATH IS SO STANK!!!” When I realized that his mouth odor was so bad that other people noticed through her proclamation, I felt kind of bad and like I maybe should have told him–but by that time, we weren’t dating anymore and were barely speaking. Ah well.
As I thought back to incidents like this as my co-worker continued talking, I was surprised to see her get up and say that she had to head back to her desk. As she stood up, that could have been my time to say something, but instead, I looked her square in the face, smiled, and told her I’d see her at lunch. I guess I was hoping the smell wouldn’t last for too long (it did), and that maybe a family member (who we know can be brutally honest at times) would find a way to tell her that she wasn’t smelling too fresh. While we were cool, I still didn’t feel like we were all that close for me to be dropping the “Hey girl, you know you’re my girl, but you stink” bomb on her. As time passed the smell wasn’t as dominant so maybe somebody gave her the real deal, but I can tell you it wasn’t me. Maybe one day I’ll grow a backbone and do what’s “right,” but until then…I’ll just hold my breath and smile.
So really, is there a good way or nice way to tell a friend or family member that they have a foul odor going on?