I’m a very sweaty person. I’m one of those people who does it if they just walk around a bit with even a tiniest layer too many clothes. ANd I wear a lot of layers, so I’m often at the wrong state.
I’ve been told this by strangers on dancefloors (for the record, I didn’t quite cry, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay…it’s genuinely scarred my life). I’ve had a co-worker take me aside and tell me about it. I’ve had friends explain to me about deodorant (pretty much everything I’ve tried has created an allergic reaction, or just added an extra chemical thread to the already heady cocktail).
I’m sure most of these people were concerned for me rather than being mean, but that sort of concern, when it’s something you’re already aware of and can’t do much about actually cuts a bit. And the lady on the dancefloor. She was just horrid.
So I smell.
To an extent I try to deal with it. Regular showers, constantly changing t-shirts and bedsheets. Open windows and essential oils. I even have this hippy deodorant stick that only half works. I mix the water up with tea tree as well.
It doesn’t quite work. There’s still always going to be times when I smell. It happens.
And in essence, I realised/decided something. It sounds a bit like evolutionary psychology, which I usually hate, but basically, if you don’t like my smell, you can fuck right off.
The people that love me and care about me, or at least many of them, have told me that they love/like/expect my smell. Rosie’s told me that she can tell when I’ve been in a room recently, and that it makes her feel more at home. Whenever I see crazy, mad Jo, one of her opening greetings is to bury her face in my armpit. Since I developed stricter cleaning regimens she’s always a little disappointed, but not entirely.
And of course, the secret is, I love it too. A cheeky nose in the armpit when nobody’s there. ‘I smell myself to make sure I’m still there.’
And the same goes for the people I care about. The people I get close to. The people I cuddle and kiss and lick. The sweat is a gorgeous part of that. It’s sensual. It’s intense. It shows engagement!
I’ll be honest, I can tell when I’m in heat, because of the way I react to body odour (mine or other people’s). It can be a bit potent.
But if I could get rid of it for everybody? Well. I probably would. I’ve got too much paranoia around it. I’ve been told enough times that I feel I’ve got an invisible fence around me, one that I can’t quite detect but makes others judge me.
And sweaty clothes are unpleasant.
Actually, my answer would be nudism. Sweat stops being a problem if you’re naked and outside.
Illustration by Simon.