Deodorant & Stinky Hiker Syndrome

Somewhere north of but with a view of Mt. Shasta – en Route to Sacramento – Ridesharing with Manny and Julia

Everything about a long distance hiker and cross country traveler includes/involves/incurs a certain aroma that seems to resist soap, scrubbing, and laundry detergent. I’ve been called…ripe..on several occasions by people who love me and understand what I’m up to. They accept the beyond BO fragrance I carry around even though I know it kinda grosses most people out. To be honest, I’ve refused commercial deodorants and antiperspirants for so long that all the folks in my life have just sort of known me to be smelly (for some reason my body emits a natural scent likened only to the heavy musk of marijuana – even if I haven’t used any for years).  I choose to go au natural, or annoint myself with pure essential oils, for several reasons.  And I know it would be an odoriferous transition but I have a dream that some day everyone will ditch the deodorant!

I originally forsook the conventionally accepted hygeinically toxic underarm products becasue they are all chemical laden, creepy, artifically fragranced cosmetics used to block the natural and necessary bodily function of perspiration, to kill bacteria, and deaden olfactory nerve endings (preventing the stench of bacterial death).  I’m telling you, rather soap-boxy, that deodorants and antiperspirants, body splashes and perfumes, are full of toxic compounds whose long term effects we are only just discovering.  For example: tumor growth and cancer, hormone disruption, nervous system damage, etc.

There are certainly many people who disagree, and that’s ok, but to me none of that is worth the risk.  I don’t need to feel pretty or clean, socially accepted, or appropriately feminine by way of artificially fragranced armpits. F that!

[Update: I have since writing this begun using a natural deodorant.  I really didn’t want to, I resisted the hell out of it, but I had to for work and to appease a friend I was staying with for a while. Let me know what you think about this in the comments section.]

There are tons of more natural products on the market, and while that’s awesome for people who choose to use, I feel it’s a stepping stone to a cultural revolution I hope is inevitable!

When did society begin to feel so intensely that the natural smell of a human was uncivilized? We’ve always used fragrant herbs and oils to ENHANCE our own unique smell, arouse the senses of prospective or potential lovers, or to achieve altered states of consciousness. But at some point some person decided we needed to mask or disguise our natural odor.  It seems to me like another attempt to control nature, the way humans do when clear-cutting forests to build shopping malls.  Wearing deodorant under the arms is disguising the animal nature, our primal expression and an important way we communicate with others through pheromones.  It’s symbolic of humans being herded, having individuality removed, and forced to fit in by removing smell or hiding behind an artificial application.  We are effectively losing our authenticity when we roll that shit on.

For a while I made my own deodorant and it worked really well. Best of all, I knew exactly what was going on my skin and purpose and function of each ingredient in the recipe.  I’m a wearing a super natural cream right now because I didn’t want to freak out the rideshare with my dirty hippiness (not dirty at all actually, just stinky).  But I don’t like it. I don’t appreciate the false pretense and the facade.  I just also don’t know what to do about it, especially if I ever get a job again. Or what about going to a symphony or fancy party? Will I forgo such experiences and situations as not to sacrifice my ideals (for an institutionalized belief system that should be eradicated)? Or will I keep the roll-on hidden from view so that for those special times when I really want to ‘fit-in’?

Who knew such social commentary could stem from deodorant?! I’ll have to give an update when I’ve figured it out a bit more for myself…


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